Friday 23 November 2012

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(Photo: Women at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, California, Oct0ber 1942. by Alfred T. Palmer. LOC.  Scenes from Arthur Herman, “Freedom’s Forge.”)

Machinist Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, CA, October 1942

905PRichard Lucas, “Axis Sally.” Shortwave radio enthusiast Lucas carefully chronicles the life of Mildred Gillars, known to American GIs during WWII as "Axis Sally," in this first full-length biography of the infamous radio propagandist for Nazi Germany. With the aid of declassified federal documents and a glut of newspaper coverage after the war, Lucas follows Gillars from her Ohio upbringing to a failed New York acting career to her transformation into the Axis Sally under the tutelage of her married German lover. Known for a voice that oozed "like honey out of a big wooden spoon," Gillars was mythologized by GIs as the personification of Nazi propaganda. In her prolific broadcasts she interviewed POWs, taunted American soldiers, and revealed secret locations of American troops. She was ultimately tried for treason, served a 12-year prison sentence, and spent the rest of her long life on parole. In this fascinating, well-researched account, Lucas attempts to isolate the people and events that may have led Gillars to assume her moniker, telling a story "of poverty and hunger." Gillars was "a woman who, like the Führer she served, wished to accomplish great artistic feats but instead wandered into history and infamy."

Mildred Gillars was an Ohio-bred woman who simply went to Germany in 1934 to study music and then fell in love. However, after war broke out in 1939 she elected to stay in Germany hoping for marriage, but her fiancée was killed during the war. That is when she became the mistress of Max Otto Koischwicz – a charming former college professor, now Nazi Officer, who enlisted her in the German overseas radio where she went from a simple announcer to master propagandist and became the voice feared by American GI’s. Richard Lucas does a superb job of illustrating the life of this notorious woman in Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany.

Working on the tail section of B-17F, at the Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, CA, October 1942)

920P: Richard Lucas continued.  Gillars served her sentence at the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson, West Virginia. She became eligible for parole in 1959, but did not apply until 1961.[18] She was released on June 10, 1961.

935PMary Lovel, “Churchills in Love and War”  “Intelligent and well-written. . . . Lovell weaves together all the anecdotes so seamlessly, and it’s such fun to read.”—Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times.  The First Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722) was a soldier of such genius that a lavish palace, Blenheim, was built to honor his triumphs. Succeeding generations of Churchills sometimes achieved distinction but also included profligates and womanizers and were saddled with the ruinous upkeep of Blenheim. The Churchills were an extraordinary family: ambitious, impecunious, impulsive, brave, and arrogant. Winston Churchill—recently voted “the Greatest Briton”—dominates them all. His failures and his triumphs are revealed here in the context of his poignant and sometimes tragic private life.

955P:Mary Lovel, “Churchills in Love and War.”  In the summer of 1899, when Clementine was fourteen, her mother relocated the family to Dieppe. There the family spent an idyllic summer; bathing, canoeing, picnicking, and blackberrying filled the happy days.[2] While in Dieppe the family became well acquainted with ‘La Colonie’, or the other English inhabitants living by the sea. This group consisted of military men, writers and painters, such as Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Sickert, the latter who came to be a great friend of the family. According to Clementine’s daughter, Mary Soames, Clementine was deeply struck by Mr Sickert, and thought he was the most handsome and compelling man she had ever seen.[2] The Hoziers' happy life in France soon came to an end when Kitty, the eldest daughter, became ill with typhoid fever. Blanche Hozier decided that the best thing to do would be to send Clementine and her sister Nellie to Scotland, so she could devote her time completely to Kitty. Kitty died on March 5, 1900.  Clementine was educated first at home, then briefly at the Edinburgh school run by Karl Froebel, the nephew of the famous German educationist, Friedrich Froebel, and his wife Johanna[2] and later at Berkhamsted School for Girls (now Berkhamsted School) and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was twice secretly engaged to Sir Sidney Peel, who had fallen in love with her when she was eighteen.[3]

Flexible performance of C-47 transport planes is due in part to their two 1,200 horsepower radial engines and to their three-blade variable-pitch propellers, Long Beach, Calif_October 1942.  Palmer, Alfred T., photographer LOC.

1005PArthur Herman, “Freedom’s Forge.”  “World War II could not have been won without the vital support and innovation of American industry. Arthur Herman’s engrossing and superbly researched account of how this came about, and the two men primarily responsible for orchestrating it, is one of the last great, untold stories of the war.”—Carlo D’Este, author.

Boeing submitted its Model 345 on 11 May 1940,[5] in competition with designs from Consolidated Aircraft (the Model 33, later to become the B-32),[6] Lockheed(the Lockheed XB-30),[7] and Douglas (the Douglas XB-31).[8] Douglas and Lockheed soon abandoned work on their projects, but Boeing received an order for two flying prototypes, given the designation XB-29, and an airframe for static testing on 24 August 1940, with the order being revised to add a third flying aircraft on 14 December. Consolidated continued to work on its Model 33 as it was seen by the Air Corps as a backup in case of problems with Boeing's design.[9] An initial production order for 14 service test aircraft and 250 production bombers was placed in May 1941,[10] this being increased to 500 aircraft in January 1942.[5] The B-29 featured a fuselage design with circular cross-section for strength. The need for pressurization in the cockpit area also led to the B-29 having the only "stepless" cockpit design, without a separate windscreen for the pilot, on an American combat aircraft of World War II.

1020P: Arthur Herman, continued. “It takes a writer of Arthur Herman’s caliber to make a story essentially based on industrial production exciting, but this book is a truly thrilling story of the contribution made by American business to the destruction of Fascism. With America producing two-thirds of the Allies’ weapons in World War II, the contribution of those who played a vital part in winning the war, yet who never once donned a uniform, has been downplayed or ignored for long enough. Here is their story, with new heroes to admire—such as William Knudsen and Henry Kaiser—who personified the can-do spirit of those stirring times.”—Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War.

The first (Liberty) ships required about 230 days to build (Patrick Henry took 244 days), but the average eventually dropped to 42 days. The record was set by SS Robert E. Peary, which was launched 4 days and 15½ hours after the keel was laid, although this publicity stunt was not repeated: in fact much fitting-out and other work remained to be done after the Peary was launched. The ships were made assembly-line style, from prefabricated sections. In 1943, three Liberty ships were completed daily. They were usually named after famous Americans, starting with the signatories of the Declaration of Independence.

Precise rivetting, Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, CA, October 1942.

1035P: Arthur Herman, continued. As seen from the National D Day Museum in New Orleans. Built in 
New Orleans for the US Military during WWII, over 20,000 LCVPs, 
called "Higgins boats" were built. They were used in the Mediterranean, 
at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and of course on D-Day in France.

1050P: Arthur Herman, continued. The Sherman evolved from the Grant and Lee medium tanks, which had an unusual side-sponson mounted 75 mm gun. It retained much of the previous mechanical design, but added the first American main 75 mm gun mounted on a fully traversing turret, with a gyrostabilizer enabling the crew to fire with reasonable accuracy while the tank was on the move.[4] The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors made the Sherman superior in some regards to the earlier German light and medium tanks of 1939-41. The Sherman ended up being produced in large numbers and formed the backbone of most Allied offensives, starting in late 1942.

Palmer, Alfred T_,, photographer_  [Electric phosphate smelting furnace used in the making of elemental phosphorus in a TVA chemical plant in the Muscle Shoals area, Alabama]  [1942 June].

1105P: Edmon Roch, filmmaker, “Garbo the Spy.”  After developing a loathing of both the Communist and Fascist regimes in Europe during the Spanish Civil WarPujol decided to become a spy for the Allies as a way to do something "for the good of humanity".[3] Pujol and his wife[4] contacted the British and American intelligence agencies, but each rejected his offer. Undeterred, he created a false identity as a fanatically pro-Nazi Spanish government official and successfully became a German agent. He was instructed to travel to Britain and recruit additional agents; instead he moved to Lisbon and created bogus reports from a variety of public sources including a tourist guide to England, train timetables, cinema newsreels and magazine advertisements.[5] Although the information would not have withstood close examination, Pujol soon established himself as a trustworthy agent. He began inventing fictional sub-agents who could be blamed for false information and mistakes.

1120P: Edmon Roch continued

War Department Building, Washington D.C. 1943.

1135P: Ben Shepherd “The Long Road Home.”  Starred Review. In the vast literature on WWII, scholars have largely ignored the 10 million to 15 million displaced persons who confronted the Allies in 1945. British writer and documentarian Shephard (After Daybreak: The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, 1945) tells a fascinating story of their ordeal. Although concentration camp victims made headlines, their numbers were hugely augmented by millions of foreign workers and slave laborers later joined by millions of destitute Germans expelled from former conquered nations. Aid planners expected a typhus epidemic, but generous use of DDT prevented this. They expected to repatriate everyone only to discover that many objected to returning to Soviet rule; Shephard describes American soldiers dragging terrified Russians and Ukrainians to assembly points. Despite relief efforts, in 1947 a million refugees lingered in dreary camps; Germany remained devastated. Matters only improved after the Marshall Plan's massive infusion of money and supplies, sold to a reluctant Congress as an anti-communist program. Shephard reveals that however well planned, post-WWII relief also produced shambles. His masterful account mixes history, colorful personalities, and moving individual stories.

1150P: Ben Shepherd continued.  

1205A: Susan Hertog, “Dangerous Ambition.”  “With grace and insight, Susan Hertog has written a masterly dual biography of two of the most formidable women of their age. This is a deeply researched, carefully wrought book, at once illuminating and entertaining, and it brings Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson back to vivid life. As readers, we owe Hertog a great debt.”—Jon Meacham, author.

Dorothy Thompson was born in 1893 in a small town in upstate New York. Her father was a Methodist preacher, and Dorothy remained devoutly religious, albeit in a somewhat peculiar way, throughout her life. Journalism, she wrote in 1953, encompassed “the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding the operation of cause and effect in the spiritual life of the individual and the community.” (This is not the conception held by most journalists.) Her mother died from an illegal abortion when Dorothy was eight; her father—who praised Dorothy as his “child-wife”—subsequently remarried, foisting on his daughter a witchy stepmother whom she loathed. But the proverbial silver lining appeared: Dorothy was sent away to a progressive school and then to Syracuse University, at a time when only 3.8 percent of college-age women were enrolled in higher education.

1220A: Susan Hertog continued.  “Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson were brave, driven, ferociously intelligent, and magnificently right about the thing that mattered more than anything else in their era: the Nazi threat. In this well-researched, fluent, and groundbreaking work, Susan Hertog successfully connects their personal and professional lives, drawing profound moral conclusions from the friendship between these two ambitious, high-achieving, and admirable women.”—Andrew Roberts, author.

Rebecca West, too, was schooled in female vulnerability as a child, though her early years are as typically late-Victorian English as Thompson’s were emblematic of small-town America at the optimistic turn-of-the-century. She was born Cicely Isabel Fairfield, in a “shabby Victorian house” in London, in 1892. Nine years later, her father abandoned his wife and three daughters, condemning them to “the shame of penury and social ostracism.” According to Hertog, this betrayal indelibly marked West’s life and led to a lifelong obsession with treason.

1235A: Richard Lucas, “Axis Sally.”  "...the first fully documented biography of the notorious World War II broadcaster..." Senior Beacon, March 2011"...provides the first full length biography of Gillars...raise(s) some important questions..."Jerusalem Post.

1250A: Richard Lucas continued. In 1940 she obtained work as an announcer with the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG), German State Radio. By 1941, as the U.S. State Department was counseling American nationals to return home, Gillars chose to stay in Germany after her fiancé, a naturalized German citizen named Paul Karlson, said that he would never marry her if she returned to the United States. Shortly afterwards, Karlson was sent to the Eastern Front, where he died in action.[5]  On December 7, 1941, Gillars was working in the studio when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was announced. She broke down in front of her colleagues and denounced their allies in the east. "I told them what I thought about Japan and that the Germans would soon find out about them," she recalled. "The shock was terrific. I lost all discretion."[5]  She later said that she knew that such an outburst could send her to a concentration camp. Faced with the prospect of joblessness or prison, she produced a written oath of allegiance to Germany and returned to work, her duties limited to announcing records and participating in chat shows.[5]