The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns; read by Ken Burns with Tom Hanks, Josh Lucas, and Rebecca Holtz
This is not an ordinary war story. It is a historical account of World War II from 1941to 1945. It thoroughly covers the December 7, 1941 sneak attack by the Japanese which put the United States into the war in the Pacific. This book covers military operations throughout World War II in the European theatre and other locations as well as the war against Japan in the Pacific.
Instead of giving dry, boring factual accounts, the authors have covered the war from the viewpoints of people in four small towns in the U.S. There are also statements by a young girl who kept a diary while she and her family were interned by the Japanese in Manila.
The U.S. towns represented were Laverne, Minnesota, Waterbury, Connecticut, Mobile, Alabama and Sacramento, California. Young men from these towns are referred to, and their involvement in the war is discussed, providing for many interesting situations. I found it disappointing that Ward and Burns did not include soldiers from a big city like Chicago or New York. There were thousands of young men from metropolitan areas who prior to the war knew nothing but the city streets. Their reactions would have been interesting since city boys would not know about hunting in dense wooded areas or pine forests. They would not know about trudging through mud when it rains or walking in fields of knee-deep snow.
The book covers the end of the war and how people felt about the outcome. The authors also mention the controversy about whether the U.S. should have used the atomic bomb. The question most often asked is, "Did it shorten the war and did it save American lives?" Ward and Burns conclude that the answer should be "Yes" to both questions. I was a member of the American forces on Okinawa preparing for the invasion of Japan. When the bomb ended the war I was very happy, and I am happier today that I was not one of the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who would have died if the war had continued.
This informative book will provide anyone who was born after the 1950s with the knowledge and understanding of what the country went through during World War II so that we could have the freedom we enjoy today. I recommend it highly.