Monday, November 14, 2016

MIX N'MATCH MONDAY: Three World War II books (1 novel, 2 nonfiction)


Infiltrate. Befriend. Sabotage.

World War II is raging. Michael O'Shaunessey, originally from Ireland, now lives in Nazi Germany with his parents. Like the other boys in his school, Michael is a member of the Hitler Youth.

But Michael has a secret. He and his parents are spies.

Michael despises everything the Nazis stand for. But he joins in the Hitler Youth's horrific games and book burnings, playing the part so he can gain insider knowledge.

When Michael learns about Projekt 1065, a secret Nazi war mission, things get even more complicated. He must prove his loyalty to the Hitler Youth at all costs -- even if it means risking everything he cares about.

Including... his own life.

From acclaimed author Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087) comes a pulse-pounding novel about facing fears and fighting for what matters most.


Alan Gratz has written a compelling story about a young man fighting for what he believes is right.  From the night he first witnessed the cruely of the Nazis, Michael has been doing his part to help the Allies defeat them. Joining the Hitler Youth and working with his spy mother, Michael gathers intel that is then sent on to the British.  But after helping rescue a downed British pilot and finding out about Projekt 1065.  When a fellow Hitler Youth who he helped escape a beating shows him part of the blueprints for an experimental jet airplane, Michael becomes determined to see the whole set of plans.  With his photographic memory, he believes just a few minutes with each of the twelve pages will allow him to pass the plans on to the British airman who will pass them on to the British.  But things get complicated as Michael discovers that his new found friend, Fritz has become part of a secret mission and he himself gets pulled deeper into the world of the Hitler Youth.  Themes of friendship, loyalties, and sacrifice shine through as Michael and his family have to make some really tough choices about the price they are willing to pay to help the Allies, maybe even their lives.  I wish I had more historical fiction like this in my library.  Books like this help history come alive along with telling a compelling, edge of your seat story.  I appreciated the notes the author makes at the end, highlighting the parts of the story that were real and the parts that aren't.  Gratz has created another powerful story about a time in the history of the world that left it's mark on all who were touched by it.


In his signature eloquent prose, backed up by thorough research, Russell Freedman tells the story of Austrian-born Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. They belonged to Hitler Youth as young children, but began to doubt the Nazi regime. As older students, the Scholls and a few friends formed the White Rose, a campaign of active resistance to Hitler and the Nazis. Risking imprisonment or even execution, the White Rose members distributed leaflets urging Germans to defy the Nazi government. Their belief that freedom was worth dying for will inspire young readers to stand up for what they believe in. Archival photographs and prints, source notes, bibliography, index.


I love to read Freedman's works.  He always does a fantastic job of telling important stories from history. And he tells them in such a readable fashion. The story of the White Rose movement is a particularly powerful story since it revolves around a group of young adults courageously standing up for what they believed in.  Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, along with their friends enjoyed being part of the Hitler Youth, at least at first, they enjoyed the hiking and camping and other physical activities.  But after going to a large rally, Hans started to become uncomfortable with the unquestioning obedience and brainwashing that was such a big part of the Hitler Youth Program.  As Hans and Sophie grew up, they struggled with the contradictions around them and the contrast between their own beliefs and what Hitler and his Nazi party stood for.  After experiencing Gestapo tactics first hand, Hans became ever more doubtful of the Nazis.  At college, Hans and Sophie and their friends started writing, producing, and mailing leaflets around Germany, sharing what they saw as being very wrong with Hitler's beliefs and methods.  Even though they knew they were risking their lives, they could not bring themselves to be quiet about what was so very wrong in their country.  Freedman does a great job telling this compelling story of integrity and courage and sacrifice. When Hans and Sophie and others among their group got caught, they faced death with dignity and a firm belief in what they were doing.  And their example inspired others to carry the cause forward and produce more leaflets.  To this day, the White Rose movement in remembered and memorialized in several places in Germany.  An inspiring story of courage and the power of belief in the face of almost unbeatable odds.


By early 1945, the destruction of the German Nazi State seems certain. The Allied forces, led by American generals George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, are gaining control of Europe, leaving German leaders scrambling. Facing defeat, Adolf Hitler flees to a secret bunker with his new wife, Eva Braun, and his beloved dog, Blondi. It is there that all three would meet their end, thus ending the Third Reich and one of the darkest chapters of history.

Hitler's Last Days is a gripping account of the death of one of the most reviled villains of the 20th century—a man whose regime of murder and terror haunts the world even today. Adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s historical thriller Killing Patton, this book will have young readers—and grown-ups too—hooked on history.


Adolph Hitler is a name that is notorious worldwide.  Known as a man of great evil, who lead a regime that killed millions and lead to the death of millions more on the battle front, Hitler was a man of contradictions. While I've read quite a bit about World War II over the years, I've avoided reading much about Hitler himself, frankly, it makes me sick just thinking about the man.  However, I found this book, looking at the last 190 days of Hitler's life, rather fascinating.  Starting with Hitler's plans for a last all out assault that turned into the Battle of the Bulge and ending with his death and including a brief look at many aspects of the Nazi regime as well as the Allied leadership, O'Reilly and written a compelling account of an important time in the world's history and some of the key players.  I'm fascinated by this glimpse into a part of world history that continues to carry ramifications today and how well O'Reilly tells it.  If more history books were like this one, I think more young people would realize how important studying history is and how much we can learn from it.

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