My Brother & Sister in law bought me two excellent books. The first is Panzer Commander which is the memoirs of Colonel Hans Von Luck. Von Luck was in one of the first Motorised units into Poland at the start of the war and saw action almost constantly until his capture by the Russians in 1945. He fought in Operation Barbarossa in 1941-2, with Rommel in the North African desert in 1942-3, the collapse of Tunisia in 1943 and participated in the German defence of Europe after Normandy in 1944. He knew almost every German commander of distinction in the conflict and his memoirs have become a classic in the literature of the panzer divisions of the second world war.
The second book is Overlord by Max Hastings. I reviewed one of Hastings other works, Das Reich, earlier in the year so I know this is going to be an interesting read. As with previous works Max Hastings has looked at this pivotal battle of the Second World War from both side of the conflict from the Strategic viewpoint down to the Tactical and from the Staff rooms of headquarters down to the troops on the ground. This books gives a full picture of the battle for Normandy in 1944 and is often quoted as an essential part of any Library of work on the Normandy Campaign.
My Daughter bought me Last Post by Max Arthur. In this book (first Published in 2005) the author tracked down and interviewed the last twenty one British veterans of the First World War. This is a particularly poignant read now that all of these men have now passed away. As well as describing their experiences during the war each of the men interviewed has also reflected in the massive social changes they have experienced during their long lives. As one reviewer says "This is not a book about facts, dates and statistics.... Its about real people, normal in almost every way, who gave so much."
The last book I received was Endgame 1945 by David Stafford. After all the campaigns and hardships comes Victory. But That is not the end of the story. When the war ended everyday life didn't resume the next morning. The recovery and retribution that followed victory is not a subject often written about. The author of this book sought out the personal stories of what it was like to be the victor and the vanquished in the days and months after the war was ended. In so doing David Stafford brushes aside some of the myths and reveals new truths, often unpalatable ones, that cast the end of the conflict and the beginning of peace in a totally new light.
All told I've had a quite a good haul of books this Christmas which will keep me occupied for months to come. I'll try and give fuller reviews as a I finish each book.