The hunger for books about World War II continues unabated, whether they concern the European theater or the Pacific one. And this season has its share of new titles, including, Ghost Soldiers (Doubleday), which has all the makings of a bestseller à lá James Bradley's Flags of Our Fathers. In Ghost Stories, Outside magazine columnist Hampton Sides recounts what happened to the 511 American prisoners of war who survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines in 1942 and their rescue by the Sixth Ranger Battalion.
Doubleday editor-in-chief Bill Thomas said that what attracted him to Ghost Stories was "the intensity of the story, the quality of the writing. It was literally the best book proposal I have ever read. I called the agent, and we preempted the book."
That might seem like publisher hype, but Doubleday reports that bookseller enthusiasm is very real, resulting in a doubling of the initial print run, to 160,000 copies, long before the May 15 on-sale date. PW gave it a starred review (Forecasts, May 26), an excerpt ran in the May issue of Esquire and Sides is booked for a Today Show appearance later this month. According to associate director of publicity Gail Brussel, marketing plans include "an extensive national print campaign and more than a thousand floor displays to bookstores." In addition, sales representatives will be hand-delivering easel-backed promotional boards into bookstores and military PX's, and Sides will tour throughout May and June.
Almost a world away, in Germany, and two years later, a young American soldier, Tony Vaccaro, was beginning an extraordinary visual documentation of the fall of Germany, taking photos of his progress from Normandy into Germany and across the Elbe River to within 30 miles of Berlin, using his army helmet to mix chemicals and developer,. After the war he stayed on and shot nearly 8,000 more photos that chronicle the end of the war and German reconstruction. Now his pictures are being reproduced in book form for the first time in Entering Germany: 1944-1949 (Taschen), which contains 190 carefully culled black-and-white photographs. "It was a personal mission for Vaccaro," explained public relations manager Pam Sommers. "He wasn't a professional photographer, and he wasn't there for any official capacity. He just felt driven to document what he saw in the midst of battle."
An appearance on Charlie Rose is pending, and American Photo will run a feature on Vaccaro in the July/August issue.
Just in time for the all the Memorial Day hype, McGraw-Hill is reissuing the 40-year-old bestselling title PT 109: John F. Kennedy in World War II by Robert Donovan, with a new foreword by NPR's Daniel Schorr and a tribute from Sen. Edward Kennedy. PT 109 tells of Lieut. Kennedy's heroic actions to save his crew after it was rammed by a Japanese destroyer.