Tag Archives: World War 2


Litercurious Book Review

Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
TitleSPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron
AuthorDilip Sarkar
PublisherPen & Sword Air World (August 29, 2019)
GenreAviation History, Military Aviation History
ISBN 10/131526732815 / ‎978-1526732811


Learn more about Dilip Sarkar.


Spitfire is a new version of the original book with the same title. The author has updated it with a ‘wider context including social, political, aviation and military history.’ It tells the tale of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) from its inception through the Battle of Britain and a little beyond. Its primary subject is Squadron Leader Brian John Edward “Sandy” Lane DFC; fighter pilot and flying ace of the RAF.

Mr Sarkar has written this book as a tribute to Squadron Leader (SL) Lane DFC; and all of the men and women, on both sides, that took part in the Battle of Britain. The book covers the RAF from WWI through the many changes into WWII. He explains the politics and tactics of the time used in defending England in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He further discusses the men and women who made up the RAF, their jobs, and family lives. He tells the harrowing tales of the real life live-or-die dogfights that took place over England and the Channel. Mr Sarkar includes personal recollections, pictures, and stories from the real people that took part in this time of historic conflict.

The book is filled with the actual logbook entries of the pilots. Sarkar also includes the letters and diary entries of the actual people who participated in the action. Sarkar discusses the individual players, their lives, their careers, and for the survivors their post-war lives.

Although the book is focused on SL Brian Lane DFC, Sarkar incorporates 19 Squadron and all the key personal: the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s), the ground crews, the pilots, the decision making leadership, and of course the politicians. He further discusses the technology of the time and how it was used in the defense strategy.

The author thoroughly covers the Spitfire; from its inception through the many models and modifications. We discover the shortcomings of some models that have catastrophic consequences for the pilots that flew them. We learn just how the Spitfire stacked up to the Messerschmitt ME 109 and its different variants. Finally, Sarkar discusses the Spitfire against the Focke-Wulf  FW 190.


Spitfire is an exceptionally researched historical account of 19 Squadron and the Battle of Britain. The information contained within its pages is in-depth and vast. From the different types of airplanes the RAF used from WWI through the beginnings of WWII, to the political infrastructure and bickering that took place.

I found the book to be a bit confusing at times. My epub copy didn’t differentiate from the story to the photo captions causing confusion when the story just changed mid-sentence to photo caption. This issue occurred throughout the entire book. However, if you can get past that little inconvenience, the information contained within its pages is priceless.

Overall, I found this book a little difficult to read at times due to the jumping around from person to person and the photo captioning intermixed with the main text. However, I immensely enjoyed learning the history of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, and all of the men and women who took part in the book. I definitely enjoyed reading all about the Spitfire and the dogfights that the pilots flew.

I do recommend this book to anyone interested in Aviation History, the Battle of Britain, or the historic account of the Royal Air Force.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


I would like to thank Dilip Sarkar, NetGalley, and Pen & Sword Air World for affording me the opportunity to review SPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron.


Litercurious Book Review

TitleWolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s
Greatest Female Spy
AuthorJudith Pearson
PublisherLyons Press (May 13, 2008)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback, Hardcover
AudienceHistorians, People who like suspense and thrillers
ISBN # 10/13159921072X / 978-1599210728


Judith Pearson is a remarkable woman. She graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in French and English. She continued her post graduate studies in Psychology. She is the founder of Courage Concepts, an organization dedicated to cultivating courage in women and girls. In 2012 she was an International Book Award Finalist for It’s Just Hair: 20 Essential Life Lessons. After her breast cancer diagnosis, she founded A2ndAct.org, an organization that supports and celebrates women survivors of all kinds of cancer. She is still very active conducting keynotes and workshops, not to mention writing. She currently lives in Phoenix (that just seems fitting).


Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is the true tale of Virginia Hall. Virginia lost her leg as a young woman in a hunting accident. Virginia always wanted to work for the Foreign Service. In 1929, at the age of only twenty-three, she applied for a consular position with the State Department. She finally received a job as a clerk with the State Department in 1931. She was told that because of her amputation, she was unfit to be a Consular.

At the outbreak of WWII, she enlisted in the Services Sanitaires de l’Armée, a Red Cross type of organization. She drove an ambulance outside of Paris. After France capitulated, she made her way back to England. On the way she had a chance encounter with George Bellows. He provided her with names and places in London that would eventually change her life forever.

Vera Atkins, an acquaintance of Bellow’s, met Virginia at a party in London. Unbeknownst to Virginia at the time, she was recruiting for the “Inter-Services Research Bureau.” This is where Virginia was enticed to work for the British as a spy. She attended a compressed spy training program; learning how to do such things as making bombs and planting explosives. Her leg was not seen as a detriment but a plus as most people wouldn’t think a one-legged woman is a spy.

Virginia went to France where worked tirelessly recruiting for the resistance, sabotaging German supply lines, and creating havoc whenever and wherever she could. She became such a thorn in the Germans side that they actively hunted her and offered rewards for her capture. She was forced to move constantly to stay ahead of the German spy’s that were tracking her. England tried to get her to return as the dangers were too great. She continued fighting for France. Eventually, the Gestapo forced her to flee for her life by making a perilous journey over the Pyrenees Mountains; not an easy feat for a woman with one leg.

Back in England she was assigned to the OSS. They sent Virginia back to France disguised as an old woman. Her limp accentuated the disguise. Virginia continued her work against the Germans until the end of WWII.


Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

Judith Pearson does an excellent job of describing the events, the feelings, and the suspense that Virginia endured. The story is remarkable in its own right, but Judith brings an element to the tale that makes this a must-read book. Full of danger, suspense, intrigue, and sorrow; this story is one that must be told. An extraordinary woman in a dangerous time, Virginia Hall is a heroine for all times.

I heartily recommend this book to everyone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Litercurious Book Review

TitleAgents of Influence                          
AuthorHenry Hemming                        
PublisherPublic Affairs (October 8, 2019)     
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook & CD       
ISBN# 10 / 131541742141 / 978-1541742147     

“Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.”

Alexander Hamilton
(1757-1804) American statesman, Secretary of the Treasury
Pacificus, No. 6, July 17, 1793.


The author of Agents of Influence is Henry Hemming. You can find more information about him and his other publications here.


I recommend this monograph to those with a general interest in military history and anyone with a particular interest in the asymmetric warfare of World War II.


Agents of Influence is the true story of a British Intelligence team tasked with swaying a reluctant United States of America (USA) to join with Great Britain against the Axis Powers in WWII.

The central character, William (Bill) Stevenson is drawn into the murky world of undercover intelligence operations or a “war by other means.” He was assigned by the British Military Intelligence Agency (MI6) with the task of organizing a hand picked elite team of operatives to work behind the scenes influencing the U.S. populations opinions surrounding their role in the war. To this day His operation is considered to have been the most successful covert action ever to have taken place on U.S. soil. Spectacular in its scope, eye waveringly expensive in terms of cost and promethean in its use of an intelligence campaign, William’s enterprise is one of the greatest examples of mass population influence in modern history.

Hemming has us accompany Stevenson during the dark days of the 1940s following the tragedy of the evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk. In June of 1940 the U.S. population had no interest in becoming embroiled in the war across the “pond.” Through William and his teams influence, the national opinion slowly changed. Within a year and half, the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the U.S. into World War II.

Hemming’s Agents of Influence unrolls the characters and the methods, including “fake news,” that changed the history of the world and the ultimate outcome of the war. He explains the British motivation behind the occult actions employed. He takes us on the ship with Stephenson and the wealth of a nation from across the Atlantic. From there he describes how Bill Stephenson uses his considerable talents to assemble an effective team, integrates them into U.S. society and begins his influence operations behind the scenes. That is just the beginning.


Agents of Influence is so outrageous that it seems too unbelievable to be true, and yet it happened. Put simply, it is one of those manuscripts that you find yourself carrying around so that you don’t miss an opportunity to read what happens next. I have just discovered a new favorite author. The next step is to get my hands on one or two of the five other works that Hemming has written. This is a superb read; but don’t take my word for it, go out and get a copy and discover for yourself the pleasure of a Henry Hemming volume. This is the first 5 star review of the year.

Written with academic prowess, scholarly skill, intensively researched, extensively referenced and reads as a compelling novel, Hemming has created a genuine winner.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


I would like to thank Henry Hemming, NetGalley, and Public Affairs for affording me the opportunity to review Agents of Influence.

Operation Swallow – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleOperation Swallow: American Soldiers’ Remarkable
Escape from Berga Concentration Camp
AuthorMark Felton
PublisherCenter Street (October 15, 2019)
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook


Mark Felton has a PhD in history from the University of Essex. He has authored numerous publications and maintains two YouTube Channels. You can find him on his official website here. If you are interested in his YouTube channels, you can find WWII history here, and his War Stories here. Mark’s twitter page is @mpfelton. If you are looking for more information on Mark Felton you can try his Wilkipedia page here.


This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys non-fiction stories of WWII. History buffs, students, teachers, and anyone else who likes to read historic accounts of the soldiers who fought in the European theatre will truly enjoy reading this work.


Operation Swallow: American Soldiers’ Remarkable Escape from Berga Concentration Camp is the story of U.S. soldiers captured during the Battle of the Bulge and taken to “Berga an der Elster,” a German concentration camp. These soldiers were forced into hard labor by the Germans to aid in their war-fighting machine. The deprivation, malnutrition, torture, and forced labor killed many POW’s. Forced to dig whether they were ill or not, beaten if they didn’t or couldn’t meet expectations, these men suffered at the hands of their captors. The bond between the soldiers and loyalty they shared were essential in the escape attempts.

Mark Felton weaves a compelling tale from official documents, eye witness accounts, and personal testimonies. He tells the story in the words of those who were actually there and experienced the brutality and hardships first hand.


Operation Swallow is a no-holds-bar true life story of just one facet in WWII. Imagine this story multiplied across all the concentration camps run by the Germans and the scale of the atrocities is astronomical. Mark does a great job bringing this story to light and giving these soldiers who suffered at the hands of the Germans a voice. I definitely recommend this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


I would like to thank Mark Felton, NetGalley, and Center Street for affording me the opportunity to review Operation Swallow: American Soldiers’ Remarkable Escape from Berga Concentration Camp.

Retribution – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleRetribution: The Soviet Reconquest of
Central Ukraine, 1943
AuthorPrit Buttar
PublisherOsprey Publishing; 1 edition (October 31, 2019)
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook


Prit Buttard is a British general practitioner and writer. He has written multiple history genre books covering WWI and WWII. He even authored a couple of novels. He did a five-year stint in the British Army as a surgeon and medical officer. He had an outstanding career and recently moved with his family to Scotland in 2017. You can find out more about Prit Buttard here and here.


This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys the history of epic war-time battles. WWII history enthusiasts will find the information contained within its pages invaluable.


Retribution: The Soviet Reconquest of Central Ukraine, 1943 tells the story of the Ukrainian front during WWII. Through exhaustive research, personal accounts, and eyewitness interviews Prit Buttard brings the epic conflict to life. The reader gets an account of the myriad of detriments effecting both sides. The Germans were better trained soldiers but lacked supply’s, replacement personnel, ammunition, they were unsuited to the environment, and much more. The Soviets were not well trained but had an inexhaustible amount replacement personnel, resupply, and factories that were beyond the reach of the German forces. They were also well suited to the environment. The German Army was also constantly being undermined by Hitler trying to micro-manage the conflict without possessing any concrete knowledge of what exactly was transpiring on the front. The Soviets didn’t experience the limitations that Hitler did as they were right there managing the battles as they went.

Prit describes the battles from the major confrontations to the grittier hand-to-hand personal battles. He gives an account of the Ukrainian people that were caught behind the German lines and the suffering they endured both during the conflict and as the Germans retreated. He does an excellent job of portraying the human conflict from all sides during this dreadful time in history.

Although the information was captivating, the book was a little disjointed due the different timelines between chapters. The reference material was also lacking in usable maps for the reader to follow along.


Prit Buttar does a great job of bringing this epic conflict into view. Even though the maps were somewhat useless, the story is one that needed to be told. This conflict tied up German forces, resources and time allowing Allied forces to win on other fronts. The loss of life on both sides is astronomical. The Soviets, through sheer manpower, overwhelmed the Germans and their limited supplies to force their retreat. Overall, an excellent read!

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Prit Buttar, NetGalley, and Osprey Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Retribution: The Soviet Reconquest of Central Ukraine, 1943.

Ian Fleming SOE And Operation POSTMASTER – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleIan Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER
AuthorBrian Lett
PublisherPen and Sword Military (February 19, 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback
ISBN-10 / 131526760681 / 978-1526760685




Anyone who enjoys history or WWII military operations.


Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER: The Untold Top Secret Story, is a historical look at just one of the Special Operations Executive’s (SOE’s) missions in West Africa. The author draws parallels between this mission, the makeup of the SOE, and Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

The story follows a small group of soldiers from Dunkirk through special operations training to mission “Operation Postmaster.” Brian Lett explains how Ian Fleming was involved with the SOE, how he knew the individuals involved, and how he incorporated certain characteristics from each member into his fictional character James Bond. Brian breaks down the makeup of the SOE and the code words and letters utilized during the time and how Ian Fleming incorporated those into his series.

Operation Postmaster is the tell of a small group of highly motivated soldiers from all walks of life and multiple nationalities banding together to accomplish a single goal. These soldiers trained in England and Scotland, and then went to work on the Spanish island of Fernando Po, now known as Bioko, off West Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The story describes the trails and tribulations that the SOE went through just to be able to do their job. From the pushback of the Admiralty, to the international political scene.

The detailed planning, the timely execution, and the personal fortitude of the men is quite evident. The fact that they received almost no help from their own military only added to the tale. The British General Officer Commanding (GOC) West Africa Command refused to support the mission. The only way they could accomplish this mission was to get help from the Governor of Nigeria.


Operation Postmaster is sometimes thrilling, but for the most part it just tedious. This is in no part due to the author, but due to the lack of support from the British military. In order to tell the story, the author has to incorporate the long delays, the trials, and tribulations that the men had to go through. When the story really picks up it is very good. Overall, I found it an interesting read but one I could do without. The whole operation just seemed a waste of resources for little gain and the possible international ramifications. The way the story is told it seems that the whole operation was just to prove that the SOE could “do it.”

Although there are similarities between the code names of the soldiers and Fleming’s books, there is no evidence that he used this particular mission to from his James Bond 007 series. It is evident that he used his experiences working with the SOE for the background of his series, but I believe the author put too much emphasis on this one mission. My greatest disappointment is that Ian Fleming, although promoted heavily on the dust cover, features less than I expected.


My sincere thanks go to: The Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher, for affording me the opportunity to review Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER: The Untold Top Secret Story.

The Battle of Britain Broadcaster – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Title The Battle of Britain Broadcaster
Author Robert Gardner
Publisher Air World (September 30, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover
Page 272
Language English

Author’s Bio (from Amazon)

“Robert Gardner worked as a journalist for four years before moving into public relations with the British Aircraft Corporation becoming Head of Publicity and later Vice President of British Aerospace and BAE Systems. Robert Gardner, who is now retired, was appointed MBE in 2001.”

Who is the Target Audience?

The Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer and WWII Pilot will appeal to anyone interested in British WWII history. History students will find the contents of this book revealing and a genuine look into the times of Britain’s greatest conflict.


The Battle of Britain Broadcaster is unlikely to be a populist favorite. I felt whilst reading this book that it was a publication too late in the day to ever be truly popular as it might have been. That being said, the book is resplendent with fascinating nuggets of intelligence on a myriad of subjects. I found the involvement of Gardner with Lord Mountbatten on the matter of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip Of Greece when he was attending The Naval collage at Dartmouth at the age of 18 and the Princess was a mere 13 years of age to be most revealing. Gardner managed to go far on a Gammer School Education and reached the dizzying heights of the Ministry of Information and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). During his service to King and Country he established many of the principals of broadcasting that the BBC uses today.


I really did want to love this book, but it never really happened. It felt trapped in the past like a man living off of bygone glories. People in today’s Britain are more concerned with right now rather than with the future or the past. For this publication; the Britain of World War 2 and the Britain of the Eurozone of today are literally worlds apart.


My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley and Air World for affording me the opportunity to review The Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer and WWII Pilot.


Litercurious Book Review

Seducing and Killing Nazis by Sophie Poldermans
Seducing and Killing Nazis by Sophie Poldermans
TitleSeducing and Killing Nazis
AuthorSophie Poldermans
PublisherSWW Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2019)
FormatKindle, Paperback     

Author’s Bio

Sophie Poldermans is a Dutch, Women’s rights activist and lecturer. She formerly worked at the National Hannie Shaft Foundation (NHSF). It was at the NHSF that she learned of the heroic actions of three Dutch young women and the tragic end of one of them. Poldermans seeks to lift the veil of time off this forgotten tale of daring-do and to remind us of all the sacrifices that many women made during the war.   

Who is the Target Audience?

Seducing and Killing Nazis is foremost a history book but it is also a memorial to Hannie Shaft, one victim of millions. The story is told by her friend Freddie Oversteegen, who is now 90 years old, and her sister Truus. This personal account of the events of World War II will satisfy; students of Military History or those studying the events in Europe during World War II, and those studying the Shoah. It may also be interesting to Feminists and other women. If you enjoy reading about strong characters, especially personal accounts of women in war situations, you could find this book inspirational on many levels.


Seducing and Killing Nazis is monograph by Sophie Poldermans. She introduces us to three ordinary girls who did extraordinary acts during tumultuous times. Of the three main characters, two are still alive; Freddie Oversteegen and her sister Truus Oversteegen. The third woman, Hannie Shaft sadly lost her battle in 1945. I could go further into the details of the in-depth biographical account of the surviving sisters and the historically available information researched by Poldermans; but to experience the life of these women and girls during the horrors of that era, you really need to read this book for yourself. Fortunately, this book is available in many formats and stores. If you enjoy well researched, concisely written, biography of the horrors of war from the female perspective then this is the book you may enjoy.


Sophie Poldermans has provided a valuable account of the dire experiences of three young females. Their lives, and for Hannie her death, forever changed by their experiences and activities. They may have begun as ordinary students but they ended up being remarkable women. Their stories are inspirational and their bravery is undeniable. These three teenagers set a high standard for the rest of us to follow. I could not help but be inspired and motivated by the life they describe. It is a perfect memorial to the life and times of Hannie Shaft, the forgotten heroine of World War II.


My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley and the Publisher SWW Press for affording me the opportunity to review of Seducing and Killing Nazis.


Fire And Fortitude – REVIEW

A Litercurious Book Review

Title Fire And Fortitude
Author John C. McManus
Publisher Dutton Caliber; 1st Edition (July 30, 2019)
Format Hardcover
Pages 640
Language English
ISBN # 0451475046 (ISBN-13: 978-0451475046)

Authors Bio

John C. McManus is a 54-year-old Professor, and Military Historian. McManus is also a long-established author of Military history focusing on the United States involvement in the battle space of World War 2. McManus has more than 14 books currently in print and Fire and Fortitude is his most recent foray into his favored genre. Among his previous publications are such notable works as: Grunts, World War 2 Through Iraq, and The Dead and Those About to Die. A graduate of the University of Missouri he experienced a short stint as a sports journalist before electing to study his Masters in American History at his alma mater. He followed his successful completion of that qualification and began his doctorate, also in American Military History at the University of Tennessee. The primary focus of his Ph.D, was the Normandy battle grounds. McManus style of writing focuses on humanizing the military machine by focusing upon individuals, and the sometimes-insuperable challenges they sometimes face. His earlier work Grunts and The Dead and Those About to Die follow that method. Fire and Fortitude is his first forage into the Pacific Theater of Operation.


I must say, first and foremost, that Fire and Fortitude is very well researched. It is resplendent with quotes from dairies, personal letters, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles. Professor. McManus provides a glimpse into the horror, the desperation, the futility of some of the major battles from all sides of those in this great conflict. Whether the soldier is Japanese, American, Australian, or an indigenous island person the reader feels what they felt at the time. 

Part One: Onslaught of the book was tedious to get through. I felt that the author exhibited a degree of bias against General McArthur. The picture of McArthur painted in the book makes him out to be an egomaniacal mommas’ boy; with a narcissistic personality disorder who could do nothing right and the whole Philippine debacle was his fault. I don’t deny the facts, but reading the same thing over and over is tedious. MaArthur’s failings as a General, leader, friend, and politician are a theme throughout the entire book.

The chapters of life in Australia were a bore. I really don’t care about mutton hot dogs, drinking, womanizing, bar fighting, or the recreation practices of soldiers in Australia while they waited to join the war effort. I want to read about the Fire and Fortitude that I was promised in the title of the book. 

The author seems to want to brush over the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers and write them off as a byproduct of war. He briefly describes a few atrocities during the Bataan Death March and in China, but fails to bring the full extent of their hideous war crimes to the reader. He makes out that the Japanese soldiers were victims of circumstance. The fact that the Japanese soldiers committed vile, brutal acts on POW’s, soldiers, and civilians in different parts of the world at the same time, describes the mindset of the Japanese as a society during WWII.

Part Two: Turnabout of the book is where the author really shines. He finally gets into the Fire and Fortitude of armed conflict. The soldiers, the battles, the fear, the suffering, and the constant hand-to-hand fighting are all brought to life in vivid detail. There is still political infighting and poor leadership but there is also heroism, undying loyalty, and bravery on all sides. Once I got into the second half of this book, I just couldn’t put it down. It was absolutely enthralling. The suffering that the soldiers went through, both Japanese and Allied, was incalculable. Disease, famine, and wounds all surrounded by the dead and dying was equally prevalent to all sides of the conflict. Some soldiers were reduced to cannibalism just to keep alive because of the environmental and logistical nightmares of resupply. Soldiers faced hand-to-hand fighting to the death in the dark wet jungles or Alaskan muskeg. Soldiers were  just trying to survive another night, another day.


Fire and Fortitude is a very good book if you start at Part Two: Turnabout. The research into this book is phenomenal. The reader can’t help but to learn something new. Sometimes the book is tedious, other times it is exciting and nerve wracking. Regardless, the book is an overall good read.


My sincere thanks go to: The Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher Dutton Caliber for affording me the opportunity to review Fire And Fortitude.