Wednesday, 6 February 2013

My Favourite WWII Author

Laurence Rees is my favourite all time World War II history author, for me he stands above all others in this genre. I first came across his work when I purchased Their Darkest Hour, a great read on how everyday people could commit acts of pure evil during times of war. This book is raw and powerful series of interviews in which takes you into the darkest corners of their minds. This book had me hooked and I quickly looked for more book by this author.

Time now for a little bit about this author. Laurence Rees has been writing books and producing documentaries for over 20 years. He has recieved numerous awards including a BAFTA, Grierson Award, International Documentary Award, British Press Guild Award, and a BANNF festival award. He has also recieved an  Honorary Doctorate by Sheffield University for services to history and television. He also launched a website in 2010 http://www.WW2history.com in 2010. He has at times been the head of BBC TV History programmes and Creative Director of BBC Television History.

He has a great back catalogue of books and documentaries that accompany each other. His books are easy to read and keep the reader captivated. His documentaries likewise are easy and fascinating to watch. His books share the same title as there matching documentary. Below is a list of his work.

His first book was Selling politics published in 1992

Selling Politics investigates the secret world of political consultants, the men who create an image of their clients for the public eye. Author Laurence Rees argues that the roots of political propaganda lie in Nazi Germany with Hitler's master of visual propaganda, Dr Josef Goebbels. Goebbels' passion for cinema led him to discover the 'Great Truth', namely that in order for film propaganda to persuade it must entertain rather than inform. Over the past thirty years the use of film and television propaganda had flourished, particularly in the United States where a candidate's ability to woo voters on the screen is fundamental to his success in a presidential election. Rees shows how television manipulates its viewers into making judgements based purely on the visual image and explains why propaganda works best when it engages the emotions rather than the intellect. We see clearly how these insidious techniques have also played a key role in contemporary British politics as consultants have followed the example of their American counterparts. Written in1992, a year that encompassed a general election in Britain and a presidential election in the United States, Selling Politics is a book for our times. It will fascinate readers who care about the practice of politics and the way democracy functions as the 21st century approaches.


1997



The Nazis: A Warning from History includes the testimonies of more than fifty eyewitnesses, many of whom were committed Nazis only now free to tell their story after the collapse of communism. Rees offers us the compelling voices of a wide variety of soldiers and civilians rarely heard from: a remorseless Lithuanian soldier who shot five hundred people and then went out to lunch, the anguished older sister of a ten-year-old retarded boy "selected for immunization injection" - a fatal dose of morphine - at a children's hospital specializing in the "treatment" of disabled children, and the testimony of a then-twenty-year-old woman from a provincial German town who sent her neighbor to a concentration camp by signing a denunciation that she was "visited by a woman of Jewish appearance, " was "behaving suspiciously, " and "never responded to the 'Heil Hitler' greeting."



2001



Laurence Rees uses previously unpublished material and photographs, dramatic interviews with witnesses who knew Hitler or Stalin, and the voices of soldiers and civilians on the Eastern Front to shed new light on Hitler's "war of annihilation."" "War of the Century focuses on key events and policies such as Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union, the legendary and horrific siege of Stalingrad, the Germans' barbaric treatment of Soviet civilians and Red Army prisoners of war, and Stalin's paranoid revenge against real and perceived enemies. With this new evidence, Rees explores the truth behind the war, its ruthless leaders and its devastating effects on the military and civilian populations of both sides.



The question is as searing as it is fundamental to the continuing debate over Japanese culpability in World War II and the period leading up to it: "How could Japanese soldiers have committed such acts of violence against Allied prisoners of war and Chinese civilians?" During the First World War, the Japanese fought on the side of the Allies and treated German POWs with respect and civility. In the years that followed, under Emperor Hirohito, conformity was the norm and the Japanese psyche became one of selfless devotion to country and emperor; soon Japanese soldiers were to engage in mass murder, rape, and even cannibalization of their enemies. Horror in the East examines how this drastic change came about. On the basis of never-before-published interviews with both the victimizers and the victimized, and drawing on never-before-revealed or long-ignored archival records, Rees discloses the full horror of the war in the Pacific, probing the supposed Japanese belief in their own racial superiority, analyzing a military that believed suicide to be more honorable than surrender, and providing what the Guardian calls "a powerful, harrowing account of appalling inhumanity...impeccably researched."


2005



Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history. Yet its story is not fully known. In Auschwitz, Laurence Rees reveals new insights from more than 100 original interviews with Auschwitz survivors and Nazi perpetrators who speak on the record for the first time. Their testimonies provide a portrait of the inner workings of the camp in unrivalled detail—from the techniques of mass murder, to the politics and gossip mill that turned between guards and prisoners, to the on-camp brothel in which the lines between those guards and prisoners became surprisingly blurred.

Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe's Jews—their "Final Solution." He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a "practical" response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. A terrible immoral pragmatism characterizes many of the decisions that determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz


2007 



How could Nazi killers shoot Jewish women and children at close range? Why did Japanese soldiers rape and murder on such a horrendous scale? How was it possible to endure the torment of a Nazi concentration camp?

Award-winning documentary maker and historian Laurence Rees has spent nearly 20 years wrestling with these questions in the course of filming hundreds of interviews with people tested to the extreme during World War II. He has come face-to-face with rapists, mass murderers, even cannibals, but he has also met courageous individuals who are an inspiration to us all.

In Their Darkest Hour he presents 35 of his most electrifying encounters.



2008


In this revelatory chronicle of World War II, Laurence Rees, winner of the 2006 British Book Award for History, documents the dramatic and secret deals that helped make the war possible and prompted some of the most crucial decisions made during the conflict.

Drawing on material available only since opening of archives in Eastern Europe and Russia, Rees reexamines the key choices made by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt during the war. And as the truth about Stalin’s earlier friendly relationship with the Nazis is laid bare, a devastating and surprising picture of the Soviet leader emerges.

The emotional core of the book is the amazing new testimony obtained from nearly a hundred separate witnesses from the period—former Soviet secret policemen, Allied seamen who braved Arctic convoys and Red Army veterans who engaged Germans in hand-to-hand fighting on the Eastern Front. Their dramatic personal experiences make clear in a compelling and fresh way the reasons why the people of Poland, the Baltic states and other European countries simply swapped the rule of one tyrant for another.

Rees’ ability to weave high politics—the meeting of the Allied leaders at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam—with the dramatic personal experiences of those on the ground who bore the consequences of their decisions is eye opening. World War II Behind Closed Doors will change the way we think about the Second World War.


2012


Adolf Hitler was an unlikely leader – fuelled by hate, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to debate political issues – and yet he commanded enormous support. So how was it possible that Hitler became such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the important question at the core of Laurence Rees’ new book.

The Holocaust, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the outbreak of the Second World War – all these cataclysmic events and more can be laid at Hitler’s door. Hitler was a war criminal arguably without precedent in the history of the world. Yet, as many who knew him confirm, Hitler was still able to exert a powerful influence over the people who encountered him.

In this fascinating book to accompany his new BBC series, the acclaimed historian and documentary maker Laurence Rees examines the nature of Hitler’s appeal, and reveals the role Hitler’s supposed ‘charisma’ played in his success. Rees’ previous work has explored the inner workings of the Nazi state in The Nazis: A Warning from History and the crimes they committed in Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution. The Charisma of Adolf Hitler is a natural culmination of twenty years of writing and research on the Third Reich, and a remarkable examination of the man and the mind at the heart of it all.



I hope I have got some of you interested in Laurence Rees and his work, if you give him a try you will not be disappointed. This author gets The Lazy Book Reviewers BIG TICK OF APPROVAL!






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