Dunkirk? Speaking of WW II history, here are a few recommendations…

(Recommendations at the bottom. If you have a favorite you don’t see listed, post it in the comments.)

Known as “Operation Dynamo,” the evacuation at Dunkirk began on May 26, 1940, saving 338,000 Allied troops from the German juggernaut. On June 4, Prime Minister Winston Churchill took to the floor of the House of Commons to report on the evacuation. In his “We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches” speech, he defiantly stood against the Nazi war machine, checked the national euphoria, and appealed to the still neutral United States for support. The speech is stirring, even today, over 75 years later. Here he reaches the equinox of his speech and gives the line that gives the speech its name:

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

It’s stirring, heady stuff, and it is one of Churchill’s best-known speeches. I get a little choked up just reading it. In a broadcast to the United States, CBS’s London correspondent Edward R. Murrow said that Churchill “spoke the language of Shakespeare with a direct urgency which I have never before heard in that House.”

Heck, yes.

Dunkirk is in theaters, and by all reports it is a gripping, thrilling experience (and “by all reports” I mean “the guys in my book club”). I’ve not seen it yet, but among the others singing Dunkirk’s  praises is my brother-in-law. As we talked about what he liked about the movie (no, I’ve not actually seen it, yet), we got talking about what histories we should read about the war. I put out the call to social media and, within a short time, friends and acquaintances from across the web sent me their recommendations.

Here they are for you:

Third Reich trilogy: The coming of the Third Reich; The Third Reich in power; The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans

Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly

Company Commander by Charles B. Macdonald

Baa Baa Black Sheep: The True Story of the “Bad Boy” Hero of the Pacific Theatre and His Famous Black Sheep Squadron by Gregory Pappy Boyington

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides

Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany  by Stephen Ambrose

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Stephen Ambrose

McCampbell’s Heroes: The Story of the U.S. Navy’s Most Celebrated Carrier Fighters of the Pacific War by Edwin Palmer Hoyt

Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Hans von Luck by Hans Von Luck

Fire In The Sky: The Air War In The South Pacific by Eric M. Bergerud

The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II  by Gregory A. Freeman

Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of her Survivors by James D. Hornfischer 

Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer

Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson

Man Who Never Was: World War II’s Boldest Counterintelligence Operation by Ewen Montagu

A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944 by Willy Peter Reese

Paratrooper!: The Saga of the U. S. Army and Marine Parachute and Glider Combat Troops during World War II by Gerald M. Devlin

Do you have a favorite World War II history that isn’t listed here? Post it in the comments.

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.