For this week’s list of nonfiction newly-released titles to add to your TBR, we’re going to travel back in time. I’ve been thinking a lot about different types of readers from myself, and I’m sorry to say that I’ve been excluding our lovers of history. I have to give credit to my dad, though, for pointing this out. He asked if I had any book recommendations for him, and he won’t read anything if it is not a historical nonfiction piece. Therefore, this one’s for all of our beloved history-buffs, but especially you, Dad. As a heads-up, though, the books on this list are definitely focused mostly on the WWII/Cold War periods, but I’ll keep an eye out for more of a variety for you all moving forward.
1. ‘Ace of Aces: The Incredible Story of Pat Pattle – the Greatest Fighter Pilot of WWII‘ by E. C. R. Baker
Pat Pattle, an extraordinary fighter pilot in WWII, finally gets the recognition he deserves after his stories nearly vanished from history due to the commotion of war. If you can’t believe me, though, take it from Roald Dahl (writer of Matilda), who said “Pat Pattle was a legend in the RAF… he was far and away the greatest ace the Middle East was ever to see, with an astronomical number of victories to his credit.” Currently, Ace of Aces is Amazon’s number-one best seller in the World War II History section.
2. ‘Beyond Valor: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race Against Time‘ by Jon Erwin and William Doyle
Honestly, this book is not what I expected when I first started looking into it for this list. It’s hard to say what would constitute a “typical WWII story,” because with a war of such great magnitude, nothing is really normal, but I never expected what I found in this book. It details when a bomb had detonated while still inside the American B-29 bomber plane and Staff Sergeant Hendry E. “Red” Erwin absorbed the blast, resulting in third-degree burns on much of his body, and then still managing to throw it overboard. This is just the starting point of the story, as much more follows in this powerful, heroic tale.
3. ‘Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945‘ by Ian W. Toll
For our next item on the list, this book is actually the final publication of a trilogy that was centered around World War II in the Pacific. The first book is called Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942, and the second book is called The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944. Ian W. Toll masterfully begins the final volume of the series with the Honolulu Conference, which was a meeting to discuss the last phase of the war against Japan. Toll includes a number of important events, while also varying his narrative to include air, sea, and beach combat.
4. ‘JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956‘ by fredrik logevall
John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States and also one of the most popular presidents in United States’ history, is somebody that never ceases to be a source of intrigue. Fredrik Logevall writes this to be the first of a two-volume biography on JFK, spanning from his birth up until when he decides to run for president. Not only this, but as Kennedy develops into the man we came to know and love as our thirty-fifth president, we also see a shift in conversation at this time, as the debate of isolationism versus interventionism was at its highest. We get a glimpse into the sate of things just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, followed by the Cold War, which the United States would deal with in the years following World War II.
5. ‘Eleanor: A Life‘ by David Michaelis
The final item on this list takes an interesting turn away from the general theme of the previous four, and instead focuses on a woman. Not just any woman, either, since it is about the United States’ longest-serving First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Honestly, I never knew how groundbreaking Eleanor Roosevelt’s work and life was. She was a diplomat, activist, and humanitarian. When she found out about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s affair, she stayed true to herself and offered a divorce. Not only this, but she also explored her own sexuality, including an attraction to women and to younger men. This book offers an intriguing new perspective on Eleanor Roosevelt’s life and her constant pursuance of freedom.