David Rubel - Author, Historian, Speaker
World War II Axis Assault

Category: Adult
Publisher: Henry Holt
Pages: 368
Publication Date: September 2003


< Previous Book | Next Book >

New York Times Living History World War II
The Axis Assault, 1939–1942
Edited by Douglas Brinkley and David Rubel


Publisher’s Description
We have long relied on historians to sift through the debris of history and piece together narratives to shape our understanding of events. But it is in the letters, diaries, speeches, song lyrics, newspaper articles, and government papers that history comes alive. The New York Times Living History books reinvigorate history by presenting the actual documents and images of the day. The editors have carefully chosen fifty critical documents that chart the Axis’s grip over Europe and the Pacific. Each primary document is accompanied by New York Times reporting or commentary from the period and original text illuminating its historical significance. News photos and other images add a strong visual component to this vivid re-creation of history.


See the companion volume The Allied Counteroffensive, 1942-1945.





Publisher's Weekly revierw
The first volume in the New York Times’s new Living History series provides a kaleidoscopic, illustrated vision of the opening years of WWII, from Roosevelt’s “quarantine” speech in 1937 to the RAF’s Thousand-Plane Raid on Cologne in 1942. Each chapter consists of a short historical introduction by volume editor Rubel, a Times news feature, a contemporary document, and one or more Times photographs. The contemporary documents range widely, including a good many letters and speeches not easily accessible today: Hitler’s greetings to Mussolini and Wendell Willkie’s denunciation of the massacre at Lidice are just two examples. Other documents include a poem by e. e. cummings, lyrics for Woody Guthrie’s song about the destroyer Reuben James (sunk by a U-boat in 1941), and a volunteer’s account of her training in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. (Another aspect of that training is shown in a photograph of the WAACs running through an obstacle course—in skirts.) The book does contain a few glitches—the Arsenal of Democracy chapter is illustrated by a considerably later (if not inappropriate) shot of the Liberty Ships; the Battle of Britain photograph actually shows pre-war Luftwaffe training—and the coverage of the Russian Front is scanty (perhaps inevitably, given the shortage of material at that time). Nonetheless, with its many fascinating primary documents and its fine organization, this volume is a good choice for browsing, an excellent resource for classroom use, and a valuable sampler of how key events in the great cataclysm looked at the time.