I have been interested in World War II most of my life. My childhood was shaped by its memories in the minds of the adults around me, and the lessons my society had chosen to learn. "The war" was always the Second World War, and it was considered a Good War.
That being the case, I wrote The Wolf Ticket with a great deal of knowledge about the war already in my head. However, I also did my research, and I offer a selection from my reading list for those who would like to learn more about various aspects of this period of history.
I had no access to the Internet while I researched and wrote the first version of the novel, but I include here many sites that I subsequently discovered and consider good introductions to the topics. The Web is too often wide, shallow and ephemeral; books tend to be deeper and more detailed. Those who seek more than an introduction should go to their libraries and bookshops.
There are many good general histories of the war written from the western Allied (American, British) perspective. I recommend The Second World War by John Keegan and The Struggle for Europe by Chester Wilmot. From the German perspective, try Wehrmacht: The Illustrated History of the German Army in WW II by John Pimlott and Christopher Ailsby and, for the Russian war, The 'Great Patriotic War': The Illustrated History of the Soviet Union at War with Germany, 1941-1945, edited by Peter Tsouras and Vladimir Fioforovich, with a shorter, but very good, version of Russia's story by Richard Overy: Russia's War: Blood Upon the Snow. D-Day is written about endlessly; D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose offers a panorama of that event, while John Keegan's Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris is a good military assessment of D-Day and the aftermath. The Allied halt on the eastern border of France in the autumn of 1944, and the history of the war through the autumn and winter of 19944/45, can be found in The Battle for the Rhineland by R. W. Thompson, while the Battle for the Ardennes is most easily digested in the patriotic Battle: The Story of the Bulge by John Toland. The final months of the war are again captured in cinematic prose by John Toland in The Last 100 Days, and in The Last Phase: The Allied Victory in Western Europe by Walter Millis, first published in 1946, and therefore limited, if stirring. A modern, thoughtful book is Why the Allies Won by Richard Overy. The ordinary soldier's story can be found in The Conquest of the Reich: D-Day to VE-Day: A Soldier's History, edited from eyewitness accounts by Robin Neillands. A day-by-day chronology of the whole war is to be found in World War II Almanac 1931-1945, A Political and Military Record by Robert Goralski. A good chronology of 1945, containing many informative links, can be found at WW II The World at War 1945. BBC History of World War II has essays and links, and is worth looking up. For a soldier's eye view of the horrors of war, Paul Fussell's essay The Real War is a sober, grim, important read. WWII might have been a Good War, but only as far as the reasonsfor going to war get you.
Jack Kuper's autobiographical account of his boyhood on the run in Poland during the war is painful, necessary reading, as is Jerzy Kosinski's rather more fictional, but no less difficult, account in The Painted Bird. Deportation and Exile: Poles in the Soviet Union, 1939-48 by Peter Calvocoressi covers the fate of the Poles under Hitler's erstwhile ally, while The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 by Richard C. Lukas and Norman Davies gives the other half of the story. The autobiography of a Polish partisan, in Thirteen is My Lucky Number: The Dramatic True Story of a Polish Resistance Fighter by Bill C. Biega, shows one man's view of the war for Poland, while The Polish Underground State by Stefan Korbonski gives a broader political view. A general history of resistance efforts can be found in Unarmed Against Hitler: Civilian Resistance in Europe 1939-1943 by Jacques Semelin (translated by Suzan Husserl-Kapit). Sites containing information about the Poles in WWII, and particularly the Polish Resistance, can be found in this history by Polish Veterans now in Great Britain. A very short summary of the war period in Poland can be found at this history of Poland, 1939-1945 site. There are many sites concerning the Jewish Resistance; this one gives a bibliography. Vichy France's history is well covered in France Under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise by Philippe Burrin (translated by Janet Lloyd) and in Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-44 by Robert Paxton. Those who want to know more about the Free French under Charles de Gaulle can start with this very thorough Wikipedia page on the Free French, with links to the Resistance. The best online histories of the French Resistance are, unfortunately, in French, but there is a good summary of the Liberation of Paris.
The Wolf Ticket takes place in the last months of the European war and the summer of 1945. Armed Truce: the Beginnings of the Cold War 1945-46 by Hugh Thomas covers this period in detail. Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century by R. J. Crampton offers a country-by-country history of the post-war months and years. Paris After the Liberation 1944-1949 by Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper is a vivid description of Paris in its victory and suffering. The title story in the short story collection The Honeyed Peace by Martha Gellhorn captures life in Paris immediately after the war. The post-war political situation is best covered in Fall Out: World War II and the Shaping of Postwar Europe by Peter Calvocoressi. Bitter Legacy: Polish American Relations in the Wake of World War II by Richard Lucas is useful reading, as is the rather heavy-going The Origins of the Cold War in Comparative Perspective: American, British and Canadian Relations with the Soviet Union, 1941-48 by Lawrence Robert Aronsen et al.
Books by women who were involved in the war are many. I particularly relied on The Face of War by Martha Gellhorn and Darlinghissima: Letters to a Friend by Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray to give me eyewitness accounts of the war. Also worth reading is Women War Correspondents of World War II by Lilya Wagner. An introductory site concerning women reporters and photographers can be found at Women at the Front. Women war correspondents (and African American reporters) are mentioned in Reporting the War: The Journalistic Coverage of World War II by Frederick S. Voss. I will deal with women of the WAC specifically in the section following, but for general histories of women in various war services, including military service, you should read American Women in a World at War, edited by Judy Barrett Litoff, They Also Served: American Women in World War II by Olga Gruhzit-Hoyt, a book for young adults, Those Incredible Women of World War II by Karen Zeinert, and Out of the Kitchen: Women in the Armed Forces and on the Home Front, edited by Richard Wissolik et al. American women's experiences in military service (this site has many great videos). other than the WAC can be found in A Woman's War Too: U.S. Women in the Military in World War II edited by Paula Nassen Poulos, We're in This War, Too: World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform edited by Judy Barrett Litoff, For God, Country and the Thrill of It: Women Airforce Pilots in World War II by Anne Noggle, Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (Wasps) of World War II by Molly Merryman, All the Brave Promises: Memories of Aircraft Woman 2nd Class 2146391 by Mary Lee Settle, Winning My Wings: A Woman Airforce Service Pilot in World War II by Marion Stegeman Hodgson, Women in the Army Air Force, Women Marines: The World War II Era by Peter A. Soderbergh, Dear Joan: The Epic Story of One of the Original Women Commissioned in the United States Navy by Marion R. Bench, No Time for Fear: Voices of American Military Nurses in World War II by Diane Burke Fessler, Bedpan Commando: The Story of a Combat Nurse during World War II by June Wandrey, Lingering Fever: A World War II Nurse's Memoir by Lavonne Telshaw Camp, What a Way to Spend a War: Navy Nurse POWs in the Philippines by Dorothy Still Danner, and Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of OSS, America's First Strategic Intelligence Service by Elizabeth P. McIntosh. Resources covering African American women serving their country are listed in this Library of Congress site. A good, solid, opinionated summary of the various branches of women's military service can be found at Capt. Barb's pages. For women in other countries, read: A Dance with Death: Soviet Airwomen in World War II by Anne Noggle and Christine A. White, Props on Her Sleeve: The Wartime Letters of a Canadian Airwoman by Carolyn Gossage and Mary Hawkins-Bush, and Women in Pursuit: A Collection & Recollection of Women Pursuit-Pilots of the ATS by Kay Gott, and Canadian Women at War. For an entirely different angle on women in war, try this thought-provoking book: Women Against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-1947, by Rachel Waltner Goossen. Women who chose to fight the invasion of their countries and the enslavement of their peoples are chronicled in Women in the Resistance by Margaret L. Rossiter, Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust: The Voices of Eyewitnesses edited by Vera Laska, Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France, 1940-1945 by Margaret Collins Weitz, Code Name Christiane Clouet: A Woman in the French Resistance by Claire Chevrillon, Women and the Italian Resistance: 1943-1945 by Jane Slaughter, Girl from Kashin: Soviet Women in Resistance in World War II edited by K. J. Cottam. This brief account of the women of the S.O.E. gives some good basic information of women in the special services.
The best history of the WAC is the official army history: The Women's Army Corps, in the United States Army in World War II, Special Studies Series produced by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1954, and written by Mattie E. Treadwell. She is thorough and acerbic, pulling no punches and telling it all except what she could not tell: the reality of lesbian enlistment. A good site that is also silent on the subject of lesbians is Judith Bellafaire's illustrated short web publication. Other books to read are Creating GI Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women's Army Corps during World War II by Leisa D. Meyer, One Woman's War: Letters Home from the Women's Army Corps, 1944-46 by Anne Bosanko Green and D'Ann Campbell, Lady GI: A Woman's War in the South Pacific, A Memoir by Irene Brion, and A Wac's Story by Nancy Dammann. African American women's experiences can be found in When the Nation Was in Need: Blacks in the Women's Army Corps during World War II by Martha S. Putney, One Woman's Army: A Black Officer Remembers the WAC by Charity Adams Earley and To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American Wacs Stationed Overseas during World War II by Brenda L. Moore.
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman has a good section on lesbian lives during the war and lesbians in the military. Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two by Allan Bërubë contains interviews with male and female veterans of WW II. This book was the basis of a documentary, and this is a trailer that covers the main points. Stars Without Garters: the Memoirs of Two Gay GIs in WW II by C. Tyler Carpenter and Edward H. Yeatts gives a very moving portrayal of day to day life for gay men in war. Johnnie Phelps, who claimed to have outed herself to General Eisenhower, has now conclusively been shown to have invented much of her war record, including the incidences that have made her famous. See this response to a film that took Phelps' statements as gospel. As this response says, there is no need to perpetuate myths; the truth is too important to be muddied. My Country, My Right to Serve: Experiences of Gay Men and Women in the Military, World War II to the Present by Mary Ann Humphrey takes the story up to today.
The oppression of the Jews began long before the beginning of the war. There are hundreds of books covering both the pre-war years and the war itself. I can recommend Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion A. Kaplan. For an answer to the Western guilt over this period, read The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have saved More Jews from the Nazis by William Rubenstein. American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1945 by Richard Breitman and Alan M. Kraut gives a slightly different picture. Yet another picture is found in Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945 by David S. Wyman and Elie Wiesel. Books and sites concerning he Nazi treatment of the Poles and others are listed in "Domination and Resistance" above. Further titles are War Through Children's Eyes: The Soviet Occupation of Poland and the Deportations, 1939-1941 by Irena Grudzenka-Gross and Jan T. Gross, The Other Victims: First-Person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the Nazis by Ina R. Friedman (for young adults, but a good summary), Weeping Violins: The Gypsy Tragedy in Europe by Betty Alt and Silvia Folts, and Hitler's Foreign Workers: Enforced Labor in Germany Under the Third Reich by Ulrich Herbert (translated by William Templer). Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Roma (also known as Gypsies), and Others in Germany, 1933-1945 by Benno Muller-Hill covers the so-called eugenic approach the Germans took to justify their treatment of the the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) (a short article from a very good Czech museum. It looks at the subject from a Czech point of view, but what happened there happened everywhere). And Wikipedia covers the Nazi treatment of gay men and lesbians. Hostage to War: A True Story by Tatjana Wassiljewa tells of one Russian woman's experience in forced labour camps and slave-labour factories. The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals by Richard Plant and Men of the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps by Heinz Heger et al. concentrate on the fate of gay men in Nazi Germany. Liberation was for Others: Memoirs of a Gay Survivor of the Nazi Holocaust by Pierre Seel (translated by Joachim Neugroschel) shows how gay men continued to suffer after the war, both in society and within themselves. There are few resources dealing with the fate of lesbians under the Nazis. This is largely due to the fact that they were classed generally with 'anti-socials' to obliterate the fact of their actual existence, which effectively obliterates them from history. Days of Masquerade: Life Stories of Lesbians during the Third Reich by Claudia Schoppman (translated by Allison Brown) and The Hidden Holocaust: Gay and Lesbian Persecution in Germany 1933-45 edited by Gunter Grau and Claudia Schoppmann are the only books I am aware of that deal with the Nazi treatment of lesbians.
The world is fortunate that so many survivors of Hitler's final solution have told their stories. For those who cannot or will not believe these horrors happened, the thousands of personal histories testify to the reality. The most terrible and moving account I have ever read is Night by Elie Wiesel. Others are The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War by Martin Gilbert and A Holocaust Reader by Lucy S. Dawidowicz. The book of photographs In the Camps, taken by Erich Hartmann, shows what the world saw when the Allies liberated the concentration camps. Sites include the Brief Introduction to the Holocaust, also a collection of links to Holocaust information, a collection of good links, and this site that, like the others, looks at Non Jewish Victims (scroll down the page). Studies of the Holocaust from the German point of view are becoming more numerous. The best known, and most controversial, is Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Less controversial, because its research is incontestable, is Ordinary Men: Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher R. Browning. I personally think that no society is more likely to tend toward grotesque violence and acceptance of extermination. Every country, every culture, is perfectly able to turn itself into a society of evil murderers; all you have to do is pick your spot in history and lift the lid. But to glance as specifics, we have Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas by Eugene Kogon et al. shows how the Germans organised the executions of their victims. There is nothing like a technical diagram of ovens to silence any talk of the 'myth' of the Holocaust.
A good, detailed overview of Displaced Persons (DPs) in WWII is the Wikipedia page on DPs. DPs; Europe's Displaced Persons, 1945-1951 by Mark Wyman covers the post-war problem of refugees. America and the Survivors of the Holocaust: The Evolution of a United States Displaced Persons Policy 1945-1950 by Leonard Dinnerstein is the best history of this period from the United States' point of view, while America's Fair Share: The Admission and Resettlement of Displaced Persons, 1945-1952 by Haim Genizi emphasises the activities of Christian groups. Healing the Wounds is Alex Bryan's memoir of his work in the Friends Relief Service working with refugees and the defeated Germans. A book I wish had been published when I was writing "The Wolf Ticket" is The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War" by Ben Shephard. It looks at the 'displaced persons' problem up to about 1948 and the attempts, well-meaning but often bungled, of UNNRA to deal withe them, from extermination camp survivors to slave labourers. Another book I would have found useful, and did find fascinating in 2007, is Endgame, 1945: The Missing Final Chapter of World War II by David Stafford, which looks at the final weeks of the wat and then looks at the post-war plight of PoWs, for those seeking revenge, and for displaced persons. It covers the time of my novel and goes further.
Forced repatriation has not been written about extensively. One good history is Aftermath of War: Everyone Must Go Home by Carol Mathur. Another is Victims of Yalta by Nikolai Tolstoy, which is the book that shaped my understanding of this shameful period. Other books include Pawns of Yalta: Soviet Refugees and America's Role in Their Repatriation by Mark Elliott, The Last Secret: The Delivery to Stalin of Over two Million Russians by Britain and the United States by Nicholas Bethell, and The Last Secret: Forcible Repatriation to Russia, 1944-7 by the same author. If you want to know more about why the Cossacks fought with the Nazis against the Soviets, read Cossacks in the German Army, 1941-1945 by Samuel J. Newland or read this short explanation on why the Cossacks were fighting in the German army and what happened to them. For a study of their war record and the record of their treatment by the Allies, read The Secret Betrayal by Nikolai Tolstoy, if you can find it. A successful libel action against him in the UK by a former official of the British Government resulted in the book being pulled and pulped. Absolutely disgraceful: how can the truth be a libel? My own copy was a lucky second-hand find. Operation Keelhaul: the Story of Forced Repatriation from 1944 to the Present by Julius Epstein brings the story up to date, and shows that we have not yet learned not to become oppressors.
There are many aspects of the war that I could touch upon only in passing in The Wolf Ticket. These include the experiences of African Americans as soldiers. The Afro-American and the Second World War by Neil Wynn gives a useful overview. The Invisible Soldier: The Experiences of the Black Soldier, World War II by Mary Motley show the endurance of men enduring both war and racism. What They Didn't Teach You About World War II by Mike Wright covers the experiences of African Americans, women and Native Americans. I wish Roi Ottley's edited diary Roi Ottley's World War II: The Lost Diary of an African American Journalist edited by Mark A. Huddle (University Press of Kanasas, 2011) had been available to me; my African American reporter character was inspired by journalists working ofr a number of newspapers aimed at the African American market. Books I did use while researching The Wolf Ticket include Paris was Yesterday, 1925-1939 by Janet Flanner, Paris was a Woman by Andrea Weiss (which began life as a film). I got my music correct by reading After the Ball by Ian Whitcomb and A History of Popular Music in America by Sigmund Spaeth. I also listened to a great deal of big band music with great pleasure. Those who want to learn more about these should read The Big Bands Go to War by Chris Way. Lastly, The War Brides of World War II by Elfrieda Berthiaume Shukert and Barbara Smith Scibetta gives the memories of women who went to the United States as brides of American soldiers.