No Simple Victory by Norman Davies
A spell-binding book! British author Norman Davies set out to tell the complete story of WWII, promising to leave behind all the distortions, adds and drops previously supplied by the nations that fought. The challenge was formidable. He claimed that not a single nation, including his own, wrote their historical account free of bias.
Of course we know the American version, and are rightly proud of it. Although late to the battle, our entry guaranteed victory for the Allies. Davies notes that American forces fought with distinction on two fronts, but that it was our home factories that turned the tide. In the late 1930's, American industry produced consumer goods at a dog's pace. By 1943, we were rolling a new tank off the line every 5 minutes, a new airplane every hour, and an aircraft carrier every week!
But there is so much we do not know, that we were not taught in school. The Normandy Invasion, pivotal in so many ways was none-the-less NOT among the ten largest battles of WWII. The largest maritime disaster involving a single ship occurred in a vessel you have never heard about. The greatest suffering (civilian and military deaths as a proportion of population) was endured by a country barely included in our high school history books.
This is a compelling story, and should be required reading at every undergraduate college the world over. When finished, I closed the book upon my chest and grieved for the nearly 70 million souls who did not live to see the sun rise when peace returned.