On September 23, PBS will air the first of Ken Burns's seven-part documentary on WWII, The War. Knopf, as it has with other Burns film projects (The Civil War; Baseball) has the tie-in, written by Burns and Geoffrey Ward. Subtitled An Intimate History, The War will no doubt bring to life first-hand accounts of the war experience from a generation that is dying off at a rate of a thousand a day. The Second World War, a “necessary war” in the words of former airman Sam Hynes, has proven to be a popular topic for American readers, and this fall season has several titles that aim to give voice to that war's combatants.
Into the Fireby Duane Schultz (Westholme Publishing, Oct. 31). This small, Yardley, Pa.—based press had a surprise success with last year's Stealing the General, which focused on a spectacular Civil War railroad heist. Into the Fire takes a similarly narrow focus, telling the story of an Eisenhower-Churchill operation to attack Nazi oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania.
Brothers in Battle, Best of Friendsby William Guarnere and Edward Heffron (Berkley/Caliber, Oct. 2). Two WWII paratroopers, known respectively as “Wild Bill” and “Babe,” were members of an elite unit of the 101st Airborne. The two were depicted in the film Band of Brothers; Tom Hanks pens the foreword to this collaboration, which recounts not only war experience but also an extraordinary friendship forged therein.
101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles in WWIIby Mark Bando (MBI/Zenith, Sept. 15). The famous Airborne Division immortalized in Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers gets a full picture-book treatment. The exploits of the storied group are documented, from training and maneuvers through D-Day and on to Berchtesgaden and the end of the war.
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italyby Rick Atkinson (Henry Holt, Oct. 2). This is the second volume in Pulitzer-winning Atkinson's trilogy on the liberation of Europe. In a starred review, PW wrote: “The Mediterranean campaign is frequently dismissed by soldiers and scholars as a distraction from the essential objective of invading northern Europe. Atkinson makes a convincing case that it played a decisive role in breaking German power, forcing the Wehrmacht onto a defensive it could never abandon.”