The first volume of a day-by-day history of World War II, based on my now-defunct award-winning web page, “World War II Plus 55,” this series will have all-new material, offering readers a day-by-day history of humanity’s greatest conflict, as seen from the top and bottom, following people, nations, commands, and campaigns across the globe.
This volume describes the causes of and the actions that preceded the war, from the birth of Adolf Hitler in 1889 to the moments before the German attack on Poland on September 1st, 1939.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?Being able to communicate ideas that I find important in an effective and memorable manner.
Writing is one of the few things I do well, and I have always found that when I needed to explain something, the best and most effective way to make my point clearly and in a comprehensible manner was to do so in writing. I know where I am, what I am doing, and how I want to tell the story. I can do what I set out to do clearly and sometimes, memorably.What do your fans mean to you?They are a validation of my work — knowing that what I have written has touched them somehow, and affected them. When they come back with comments, I know they have been interested in what I have had to say.
I am often astonished at who I hear from — sometimes I get e-mails from sons and daughters and grandchildren of the World War II figures I have written about, who are grateful for the material, and have even learned something about their ancestor.
Sometimes it’s entertaining…I get e-mails from kids asking what I did in the war (I was born 20 years after it was fought), and sometimes it’s upsetting…like an e-mail I got from an admirer of Herr Hitler, or the one who sneered that I could not write “a coherent sentence.” It’s hard to know what to do when you get something like that.What are you working on next?The next volume of the day-by-day history of World War II, which will cover the action — or lack thereof — of 1939.Who are your favorite authors?Walter Lord, William Manchester, Sir John Keegan, Mark Zuehlke, Robin Neillands, Martin Middlebrook, Correlli Barnett, Sir Winston Churchill, Antony Beevor, Ian Kershaw, Richard E. Evans, Barbara Tuchman, David McCullough, Roger Angell, Pierre Berton, Bruce Catton, Geoffrey Perrett, Sir Martin Gilbert, Sir Max Hastings, Norman Longmate, Erine Pyle, Samuel Eliot Morison, Gordon Corrigan, Barrie Pitt, Rick Atkinson, John S.D. Eisenhower, Charles MacDonald, Al Nofi, Joe Balkoski, Walter Boyne, David Fraser, Richard B. Frank, Gordon W. Prange, Barrett Tillman, James D. Hornfischer, Noah Andre Trudeau, Max Brooks, James F. Dunnigan, and Lloyd Clark.What is your writing process?I learned that from watching Roger Clemens pitch.
First, I assess the situation…the batters (readers) facing me, the game situation (the assignment requirement), and the types of pitches (series of paragraphs and sentences) I want to use to deal with the hitters.
I tend to figure out in rough terms what the pitch sequence will be in my head when warming up (before approaching the computer), and then, with the outlines of what I want to to in hand, start composing at the keyboard, throwing my pitches.
I vary my styles based on what I want to do and the game situation…do I want to pitch outside (expand on large points) or inside (close in on small points). Do I want to rely on heat (pure force an velocity) or curves and sliders? (changing ideas to make the reader think)? Do I want to freeze the hitter in the strike zone (a style that he cannot answer) or make him ground or pop up (weakly give a Socratic answer to my argument)?
Usually, I want the final pitch of the inning to be an explosive slider that jumps off the plate that the hitter either swings and misses or stands frozen for a called third strike, that brings the audience to its feet, applauding and screaming for more.
It’s all done in my head and then at the computer. From 34 years of doing this, my two biggest weaknesses come from the speed with which I compose at the keyboard (110 wpm). One is a tendency to get hooked on a word and use it too often. That comes from the speed with which I write, and the fact that I regard words merely as tools — what matters is the sentence and paragraph selection and ordering of the ideas. Words are just how I express the ideas.
The other weakness is I have trouble keeping stuff brief…I want to come out with the whole inventory. I often over-write, and e-books and the computer age have unlocked the brakes on length that the newspaper and wire service business put on my work.
I learned all this from watching Roger Clemens pitch…which is why he is one of my literary mentors. Couldn’t have got my MFA without him. When I think about writing, it’s always in baseball pitching terms. Always.What are your five favorite books, and why?Can’t just give “five favorite books,” as I’ve read too many, but I’ll try:
“The Glory and the Dream,” by William Manchester, a narrative history of the United States from 1932 to 1972. It’s really the history of a generation of Americans, with everything from presidential politics to the development of hula hoops.
“Pinstripe Empire,” by Marty Appel. The history of the Yankees. If it isn’t in there, you don’t need to know about it, as far as my favorite baseball team goes.
Richard E. Evans’ trilogy on Nazi Germany on World War II, for that subject.
Winston Churchill’s six volumes on World War II. The world’s greatest conflict, from the war’s most determined warrior.
Everything Walter Lord ever wrote…he figured out how to write about human behavior in unusual situations and use that and time to study humanity in an incredibly literate manner.What do you read for pleasure?Books on history and baseball.
For the former, I like stuff about the British, Canadians, Americans, New Zealanders, and Australians, the countries I identify with, especially books that emphasize the human side of the war, as opposed to the difference between models of the P-38. It’s more interesting to see how paratroopers dealt with fear and cold at Bastogne than whether the M-1 was superior to the KAR 98K.
For the latter, I like to read history and biography: accounts of baseball teams and seasons, preferably my favorite teams (Yankees and Giants), and biographies. I’m fascinated with how ballplayers cope with the strange lives they live, compared to the rest of us. At age 23, they live cocooned and sheltered lives of wealth and adulation, which ends in forced retirement at age 35 and obscurity by age 40. It baffles me as to how they cope. Beneath the veneer of statistics and plays are people.
I also read about the Titanic, New York City history, and the American manned space program.Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?I was born and raised in New York City, so I was influenced by my writing teacher, Frank McCourt, in high school, and living in a very literate family in a very literary city. I gained my MFA at the New School for Social Research in New York, which was certainly a major influence on me.When did you first start writing?I was in the 7th grade. Pretty sure of that. Little essays on how miserable I felt from all the bullying I endured. My English teacher, Sarah Hardman, was astonished at their quality.What’s the story behind your latest book?It’s the base of a day-by-day history of World War II. The next book will be the first volume of that history, all the action of 1939.What motivated you to become an indie author?Publishers are only interested in the following:
1. Books that rip President Obama as a Marxist/Nazi/Socialist/African usurper
2. Memoirs of politicians that say “the world would be a better place if they listened to me”
3. Memoirs of reporters or soldiers who went to Afghanistan and feel ripped off by their employer
4. Memoirs of actors, actresses, and musicians, who reveal the vast amount of drugs, sex, and money behind the glittering curtain.
5. The life of something called “Snooki,” who has apparently gained vast amounts of fame for heavy drinking, promiscuity, and having a baby outside of wedlock.
6. Diet tips
7. Sex tips
8. Cat-raising tips
9. Books that handle all of the above (“Trimmer thighs for your cat”)
So I said, “The heck with this, I’m going my own way.”
The history of a war is among the most challenging ofnarratives about the past. It reveals”how the past is never dead, it’s not even past,” as William Faulkner famouslywrote many years ago. David H. Lippman,an astute and diligent student of World War II,tells the stories of how that War was made andremade, how it was fought, and why itmattered to the endangered lives of its combatants. Lippman’s book also sheds abrilliant light on why the War’s horrific and poignant grandeur matter still inlives of twenty-first century global citizens.
Clement Alexander Price
Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professorof History
David Lippman’s World War II Plus 75 — The Road to War is a thoroughly researched and well written detailed chronicle of World War II that encompasses all theatres and the experiences of a great many nations.
Author of the acclaimed Canadian Battle Series
David Lippman has undertaken a hugely ambitious project: to tell the story of the Second World War as it happened, day-by-day. The reader will find a wealth of information here, covering an amazing range of topics from strategy to sports, from domestic politics to genocide, battles, logistics, technology and economics, for every corner of the world. There is nothing else quite like it.
Author, Inside “Hitler’s High Command”
“David Lippman has done a masterful job in condensing the war into a well-written and immensely readable form. All U.S. schoolkids should be assigned to read it. I especially liked the way you handled the Sources/Bibliography; I haven’t seen it done like that before.”
Author, “The Fighting First,” “The Rock of Anzio,” “The Depths of Courage,” “Given Up For Dead.”
About the Author
I am a 34-year veteran journalist with experience in newspapers, wire services, TV, radio, public relations, on three continents: North America, Asia, and Oceania.
Some of the events I have worked on include New York City’s 50th anniversary celebration of D-Day, New Zealand’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of V-E Day, and Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. In doing so, I have had the good fortune to meet such varied characters as paratroopers who jumped into Normandy (like Bill Guarnere), Royal Navy Battle of the Atlantic veterans, Victoria Cross recipients, and Marines who fought in the liberation of Guam.
I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from New York University and Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing from the New School for Social Research. I have won numerous awards for journalism in daily newspaper work.
For the past 16 years, I have served as Press Information Officer with City of Newark, NJ, under four mayors (James, Booker, Quintana, Baraka), and writes articles on World War II for World War II History magazine.
Before starting this project, I wrote award-winning “World War II Plus 55” website until death of its webmaster in 2013 — now turning day-by-day history of World War II series into a series of e-books.
From the Inside Flap:
From the Inside Flap
WORLD WAR II – A PROLOGUE
On the morning of September 1, 1939, a German battleship named Schleswig-Holstein standing 600 meters off the Polish coastal fort of Westerplatte, opened fire on the fort and began the Second World War. 2,193 days later, on September 2,1945, the Second World War ended in Japan’s Tokyo Bay, as that nation unconditionally surrendered to the Allied powers on the deck of an American battleship named Missouri.
The Schleswig-Holstein was built in 1884 and was powered by coal when built. Her top speed was a plodding 19.1 knots. She had been converted to fuel oil in 1926, but was outdated by 1939, called up from training duties to hurl 11-inch shells at an equally outdated Polish barracks and guardhouse, whose most powerful weapons were two 37mm anti-tank guns and a single 75mm field piece, which would be familiar to World War I veterans. Schleswig-Holstein’s antique guns were loaded by hand and aimed by optical sights, in a style used at Jutland or Tsushima, even recognizable to someone who had fought at Trafalgar or the Virginia Capes.
The Schleswig-Holstein fired her shells at the Polish defenders and scored a number of hits, temporarily putting the fort out of commission, ultimately forcing its surrender. As German shells rained down on Westerplatte ,neither side realized that both battleships and coastal forts would soon become obsolete, if not already.
The Missouri was launched in 1943, could steam at 27 knots on oil-fired engines, and bristled with 16-inch, 5-inch, and 40mm guns. They were sighted and aimed by radar, computers, and electronics, in a style that would be recognizable to men who fought – on the same ship – in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
On what became known as Missouri‘s “Surrender Deck,” nine Japanese diplomats and generals stood before the representatives of nine nations – not including Poland – and yielded control of their sacred homeland to a conqueror for the first time in Japan’s thousand years of existence as a sovereign nation. Two of the persons present in Tokyo Bay would have a long time to remember the moment.
One was a young Japanese diplomat named Toshikazu Kase, who was among the nine Japanese delegates. Educated at Amherst and Harvard, he drafted the document that declared war on America in 1941. After World War II, he became Japan’s first Ambassador to the United Nations, and a strong advocate of Japan’s alliance with the United States. He would live to the age of 101, dying in 2004. The other witness was a young Royal Navy officer serving on the destroyer HMS Whelp, Prince Philip ,the future Duke of Edinburgh, husband to Queen Elizabeth II. He had already seen a long war in the Mediterranean and the Pacific.
The space and time between those two battleships’ actions marked the largest and most destructive event and conflict in human history. World War II began with biplanes, Napoleonic field forts, cavalry, and coal-fired warships. It ended with jet aircraft, napalm, tactical nuclear weapons, and cruise missiles. This is what happened…