(StatePoint) This year marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two and Americans continue to be gripped by this tumultuous period in our nation's history.
In addition to commemorations nationwide, there are dozens of films and books that have been or are being released, bringing the war home for millions of Americans.
"It was a period of enormous personal glory and sacrifice. American was unselfishly helping the world to liberate itself from the tyranny of Fascism. And the conclusion of the war represented a clear victory for a country who thinks of itself as a proud and brave people," points out Gordon Zuckerman author of the new historical novel, "The Sentinels: Fortunes of War," explaining the war's continued popularity.
From the Tom Cruise thriller "Valkyrie" and the Spike Lee directed flick, "Miracle at St. Anna," both of which opened late last year, to this year's Quentin Tarantino directed "Inglourious Basterds" starring Brad Pitt, WWII-themed movies continue to garner big audiences. And such films also translate into awards, with Kate Winslet winning a Best Actress Oscar this year for "The Reader."
When it comes to books, the war continues to take center stage for both fiction and non-fiction audiences. Some of this year's more intriguing titles include:
* "The Third Reich at War" by Richard Evans: The third and final volume in Evans's non-fiction trilogy on Nazi Germany depicts the rise and fall of German military might from the onset of the war to its conclusion. The book interweaves narrative of the war with personal tales from generals, front-line soldiers, Hitler Youth and middle-class housewives. The destruction of Nazi Germany is all here, incorporating the war's battles and events as well as the daily experiences of ordinary Germans. For more information, visit www.RichardJEvans.com.
* "The Sentinels: Fortunes of War" by Gordon Zuckerman: This thriller doesn't center on what most WWII books tend to cover, such as violent battle scenes or depravity in concentration camps. Instead, it focuses on the role money may have played in Hitler's rise and how a few idealists try to use it to stop the world's most maniacal man. It's a fascinating theory of how Hitler came to power and a believable scenario of how six amateurs tried to pull off the biggest robbery ever. The novel delves heavily into how money played a key role in Hitler's attempt of world domination and how the loss of it helped bring him down, speculating about what may have been the real story behind the war's beginnings. For more information, visit www.GordonZuckerman.com.
* "Chewing Gum, Candy Bars, and Beer: The Army Px in World War II" by James J. Cooke: It's been said armies travel on their stomachs and GIs in WWII certainly had unique chow. Dedicated to the military stores that supplied them with small pieces of home, this study takes a different approach to telling a war story. Indeed, many of the small comforts they enjoyed in civilian life - such as chocolate, cigarettes and gum - made our soldiers more popular with local residents in different countries. Cooke traces the evolution of the Px from the point of view of those who ran it and the soldiers who used it.
Could the war have been averted? And what have we learned since? Historians have been debating this for the last 70 years, and if this year's slate of films and books is any indication, so has the American public.
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