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If a mere seven more MPs had voted with Prime Minister JBM Hertzog in favour of neutrality, South Africa’s history would have been quite different.
Parliament’s narrow decision to go to war in 1939 led to a seismic upheaval throughout the 1940s: black people streamed in their thousands from rural areas to the cities in search of jobs; volunteers of all races answered the call to go ‘up north’ to fight; and opponents of the Smuts government actively hindered the war effort by attacking soldiers and committing acts of sabotage. World War Two upended South Africa’s politics, ruining attempts to forge white unity and galvanising opposition to segregation among African, Indian and coloured communities. It also sparked debates among nationalists, socialists, liberals and communists such as the country had never previously experienced.
As Richard Steyn recounts so compellingly in 7 Votes, the war’s unforeseen consequence was the boost it gave to nationalism, both Afrikaner and African, that went on to transform the country in the second half of the 20th century. The book brings to life an extraordinary cast of characters, including wartime leader Jan Smuts, DF Malan and his National Party colleagues, African nationalists from Anton Lembede and AB Xuma to Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, the influential Indian activists Yusuf Dadoo and Monty Naicker, and many others.
The Last Hurrah describes in vivid detail a pivotal moment not just in the history of South Africa, that far-flung imperial outpost, but of the British Empire itself. The year 1947 marked the high-water mark of the British Empire in Africa, but also the very moment at which it began to unravel, ahead of the Afrikaner Nationalist victory in South Africa in 1948, which led inexorably to the Republic of South Africa in 1961 and its departure from the Commonwealth.
Graham Viney's book not only superbly captures a moment in the life of a fractious, recently formed 'nation', before its descent into nearly five decades of darkness, but also gives us an intimate and revealing portrait of the royal family - King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret - hard at work in support of the national interest. It seems clear that the present Queen Elizabeth must have learned a great deal from her father, but perhaps particularly her mother, about duty and statecraft in the course of this three-month tour, during which the then princess celebrated her twenty-first birthday.
Viney evocatively details the background to the 1947 royal tour of southern Africa, which took in not just the length and breadth of what was then the Union of South Africa, but its neighbours, too: Basutoland (now Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana), Swaziland (very recently renamed the Kingdom of eSwatini), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). The royal family travelled ceaselessly, from February to April that year, on a specially commissioned, white-painted train, meeting thousands of people at every stop along the way.
The tour was a show of imperial solidarity and a recognition of South Africa's contribution to the Allied cause during the Second World War, specifically that of South African prime minister Jan Smuts, who, though once an adversary in the Boer War and Churchill's jailer, had served in both British war cabinets and been nicknamed 'the handyman of Empire'. Despite concerns and ongoing controversy, wherever the tour took the Royal Family, South Africans of all kinds turned out in their thousands to cheer and welcome them. But India was to gain independence later that same year and just one year later, Smuts had been ousted from power and South Africa set on the path to becoming a republic.
The Last Hurrah draws skilfully on many diverse sources, including the Royal Archive at Windsor, to explore not just the troubled politics of the time, but also local society and the royal visitors in richly textured, telling detail. The book includes many photographs of the royal family on tour not previously published, including stills from film footage unearthed in the South African Railway Museum archives.
During WW2, a group of Jewish refugees (intellectuals, writers, artists and athletes - most from Germany and Austria) escaped to Britain and were interned as ‘enemy aliens’. In 1942, they were selected and trained to form a special unit of commandoes who would be sent back into Europe to play a significant role in the final battles against the Nazis.
Based on original archival research, interviews and a cache of newly discovered sources, this is a book brimming with camaraderie, heroism and high-octane storytelling, as it tells the dramatic story of the X-Troop men who helped to defeat the Nazis and liberate the concentration camps where their families had either been killed or imprisoned.
From the secret SAS archives, and acclaimed author Ben Macintyre: the first ever authorized history of the SAS.
In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, came up with a plan that was radical and entirely against the rules: a small undercover unit that would inflict chaos and mayhem behind enemy lines. Despite intense opposition, Winston Churchill personally gave Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he could find. So began the most celebrated and mysterious military organisation in the world: the SAS. Now, 75 years later, the SAS has finally decided to tell its astonishing story. It has opened its secret archives for the first time, granting historian Ben Macintyre full access to a treasure trove of unseen reports, memos, diaries, letters, maps and photographs, as well as free rein to interview surviving Originals and those who knew them.
The result is an exhilarating tale of fearlessness and heroism, recklessness and tragedy; of extraordinary men who were willing to take monumental risks. It is a story about the meaning of courage.
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 'Every time Churchill took to the airwaves it was as if he were injecting adrenaline-soaked courage directly into the British people ... Larson tells the story of how that feat was accomplished ... Fresh, fast and deeply moving.' New York Times A STARTLING, GRIPPING PORTRAIT OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE ALIVE IN BRITAIN DURING THE BLITZ, AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE AROUND CHURCHILL. On Winston Churchill's first day as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, the Nazis would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons and destroying two million homes. In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson gives a new and brilliantly cinematic account of how Britain's most iconic leader set about unifying the nation at its most vulnerable moment, and teaching 'the art of being fearless.' Drawing on once-secret intelligence reports and diaries, #1 bestselling author Larson takes readers from the shelled streets of London to Churchill's own chambers, giving a vivid vision of true leadership, when - in the face of unrelenting horror - a leader of eloquence, strategic brilliance and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.
Historian Karen Horn painstakingly tracked down a number of former POWs in which their interviews reveal rich narratives of hardship, endurance, humour, longing and self-discovery. Instead of fighting, these men adapted to another war, one which was fought on the inside of many prison camps.
In their interviews, all the POWs expressed surprise at being asked to share their experiences of almost 70 years earlier.They returned home in 1945 to a country which soon afterwards tried its utmost to promote national amnesia with regard to the country’s participation in the war.
With great insight and empathy, Karen Horn shines a light on a neglected corner of South African history. Karen Horn is a lecturer at Stellenbosch University.
'The epic story of an iconic aircraft and the breathtaking courage of those who flew her' Andy McNab, bestselling author of Bravo Two Zero 'Compelling, thrilling and rooted in quite extraordinary human drama' James Holland, author of Normandy 44 From John Nichol, the Sunday Times bestselling author of Spitfire, comes a passionate and profoundly moving tribute to the Lancaster bomber, its heroic crews and the men and women who kept her airborne during the country's greatest hour of need. 'The Avro Lancaster is an aviation icon; revered, romanticised, loved. Without her, and the bravery of those who flew her, the freedom we enjoy today would not exist.' Sir Arthur Harris, the controversial chief of Royal Air Force Bomber Command, described the Lancaster as his 'shining sword' and the 'greatest single factor in winning the war'. RAF bomber squadrons carried out offensive operations from the first day of the Second World War until the very last, more than five and a half years later. They flew nearly 300,000 sorties and dropped around a million tons of explosives, as well as life-saving supplies. Over 10,000 of their aircraft never returned. Of the 7,377 Lancasters built during the conflict, more than half were lost to enemy action or training accidents. The human cost was staggering. Of the 125,000 men who served in Bomber Command, over 55,000 were killed and another 8,400 were wounded. Some 10,000 survived being shot down, only to become prisoners of war. In simple, brutal terms, Harris's aircrew had only a 40 per cent chance of surviving the war unscathed. Former RAF Tornado Navigator, Gulf War veteran and bestselling author John Nichol now tells the inspiring and moving story of this legendary aircraft that took the fight deep into the heart of Nazi Germany.
A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK 'Esther Safran Foer has written of her family in a way that is both uniquely and heartbreakingly her story and a deeply important testament for Ashkenazi Jews. Her memories are our important history.' Robert Peston, ITV Political Editor A moving and powerful inter-generational memoir about story and memory. Mine is a family of readers and writers. Our house is filled with books. There are contemporary design books on the coffee table in the living room, legal books in my husband's home office, and piles of children's books for when my grandchildren visit. However, the side table next to my bed is piled with books about the Holocaust. Framed maps of shtetls line my office walls and pictures of relatives killed in the Holocaust are displayed on our family gallery walls. Sometimes I feel like I exist across two polarized realities, experiencing great fulfillment from family, friends, and a meaningful career, and, at the same time, finding the joy of my life tempered by its shadows. In the darker corners of my mind live ghosts and demons who visit me from the shtetls in Ukraine where my family came from. Some of the details that make these visions so vivid are imagined because I grew up in a family where memories were too terrible to speak of. This is the true story of four generations who have been dealing with the Holocaust and its aftermath. We are four generations, survivors and survivors of survivors, storytellers and memory keepers. And we're still here.
A STORY OF UNSUNG BRAVERY AT A DEFINING MOMENT IN BRITAIN'S HISTORY 'Superb' Stephen Fry 'Thrillingly told' Dan Jones 'Fascinating' Neil MacGregor 'Astonishing' Peter Frankopan We like to think we know the story of how Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, but there is one chapter that has never been told. In the early 1930s, a group of young, queer British MPs visited Berlin on a series of trips that would change the course of the Second World War. Having witnessed the Nazis' brutality first-hand, these men were some of the first to warn Britain about Hitler, repeatedly speaking out against their government's policy of appeasing him. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain hated them. Branding them 'the glamour boys' to insinuate something untoward about them, he had their phones tapped and threatened them with deselection and exposure. At a time when even the suggestion of homosexuality could land you in prison, the bravery these men were forced to show in their personal lives gave them extraordinary courage in public. Undaunted, they refused to be silenced and when war came, they enlisted. Four of them died in action. And without them, Britain would never have faced down the Nazis. A Guardian Book of Autumn 2020
A TOP TEN SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'His best book yet' The Times 'Macintyre's page-turner is a dazzling portrait of a flawed yet driven individual who risked everything (including her children) for the cause' Sunday Times DISCOVER THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF THE SPY WHO ALMOST KILLED HITLER - FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SPY AND THE TRAITOR Ursula Kuczynski Burton was a spymaster, saboteur, bomb-maker and secret agent. Codenamed 'Agent Sonya', her story has never been told - until now. Born to a German Jewish family, as Ursula grew, so did the Nazis' power. As a fanatical opponent of the fascism that ravaged her homeland, Ursula was drawn to communism as a young woman, motivated by the promise of a fair and peaceful society. From planning an assassination attempt on Hitler in Switzerland, to spying on the Japanese in Manchuria, to preventing nuclear war (or so she believed) by stealing the science of atomic weaponry from Britain to give to Moscow, Ursula conducted some of the most dangerous espionage operations of the twentieth century. In Agent Sonya, Britain's most acclaimed historian Ben Macintyre delivers an exhilarating tale that's as fast-paced as any fiction. It is the incredible story of one spy's life, a life that would alter the course of history . . . 'Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else' John Preston 'Macintyre has found a real-life heroine worthy of his gifts as John le Carre's nonfiction counterpart' New York Times 'This book is classic Ben Macintyre . . . quirky human details enliven every page' Spectator
'Excellent' Antony Beevor 'Saul David is a brilliant historian ... In shocking and jaw-dropping detail, he brings a battle that deserves far greater prominence and understanding vividly back to life' James Holland From award-winning historian Saul David, an action-packed and powerful new narrative of the Battle of Okinawa - the last great clash of the Second World War, and one that had profound consequences for the modern world. For eighty-three blood-soaked days, the fighting on the island of Okinawa plumbed depths of savagery as bad as anything seen on the Eastern Front. When it was over, almost a quarter of a million people had lost their lives, making it by far the bloodiest US battle of the Pacific. In Okinawa, the death toll included thousands of civilians lost to mass suicide, convinced by Japanese propaganda that they would otherwise be raped and murdered by the enemy. On the US side, David argues that the horror of the battle ultimately determined President Truman's choice to use atomic bombs in August 1945. It is a brutal, heart-rending story, and one David tells with masterly attention to detail: the cramped cockpit of a kamikaze plane, the claustrophobic gun turret of a warship under attack, and a half-submerged foxhole amidst the squalor and battle detritus. The narrative follows generals, presidents and emperors, as well as the humbler experiences of ordinary servicemen and families on both sides, and the Okinawan civilians who were caught so tragically between the warring parties. Using graphic eyewitness accounts and declassified documents from archives in three continents, Saul David illuminates a shocking chapter of history that is too often missing from Western-centric narratives of the Second World War.
During World War II, the lives of millions of Americans lay precariously in the hands of a few brilliant scientists who raced to develop the first weapon of mass destruction. Elected officials gave the scientists free rein in the Manhattan Project without understanding the complexities and dangers involved in splitting the atom. The Manhattan Project was the first example of a new type of choice for congressmen, presidents, and other government officials: life and death on a national scale. From that moment, our government began fashioning public policy for issues of scientific development, discoveries, and inventions that could secure or threaten our existence and our future. But those same men and women had no training in such fields, did not understand the ramifications of the research, and relied on incomplete information to form potentially life-changing decisions. Through the story of the Manhattan Project, Neil J. Sullivan asks by what criteria the people in charge at the time made such critical decisions. He also ponders how similar judgments are reached today with similar incomprehension from those at the top as our society dives down the potential rabbit hole of bioengineering, nanotechnology, and scientific developments yet to come.
Dark low-level raids, dodging anti-aircraft flak to make pinpoint-accurate drops - the incredible story of ordinary men and women who took to the skies to mark bomb targets inside Hitler's Germany The Pathfinders were the crack team that transformed the hit rate in the RAF's Bomber Command from 24% in August 1942 to an incredible 96% hit rate by 1945. They transformed Bomber Command - the only part of the Allied war effort capable of attacking the heart of Nazi Germany - from an impotent division on the cusp of disintegration in 1942 to a force capable of razing whole German cities to the ground, inspiring fear in Hitler's senior command and helping the Allies deliver decisive victory in World War II. With exclusive interviews with remaining survivors, personal diaries, previously classified records and never-before seen photographs, The Pathfinders brings to life the characters of the airmen and women -- many barely out of their teens - who took to the skies in iconic British aircraft such as the Lancaster and the Mosquito, facing almost unimaginable levels of violence from enemy fighter planes to strike the heart of the Nazi war machine.
A Daily Telegraph Best Book of 2020 'Eileen is an ambitious, kind and achingly funny observer' The Times 'Passionate, gossipy, vivacious' Marina Warner 'A unique insight into home-front life and romance' Mail on Sunday With the intimacy and wit of a Second World War Bridget Jones, Eileen Alexander offers a portal into life during the Blitz: - The sex, joys and cruelties of young love - for Eileen with a man who had just inadvertently involved her in a car crash, for her friends with some less-than-honourable specimens - The frustrations of coming of age in an era 'suspended between an unborn tomorrow & dead yesterday' - The tragedies of rationed textiles ('apropos French Knickers & Respectability ... You've no idea what a lot of difference a bit of elastic can make'), With Eileen, a Jewish woman in her twenties crackling with intelligence, we sink into the reality of wartime London - particularly as it was lived for women. She is hilariously caustic about colleagues and political figures, confessional to the gossipy and emotional extremes, and brilliantly frank on the feeling of derailed hopes and ambition. Above all, these letters - rescued from oblivion by a chance eBay purchase - tell an unbelievable love story. This is a one-of-a-kind chronicle, seared with the pain of loving a man away at the front and the terrible uncertainty of war. 'I wonder what anyone would think if they suddenly came across my letters to you & started reading them in chronological order?' Eileen wrote in 1941. 'I think they'd say "This girl never lived till she loved" - and it would be true, darling.'
An epic, intimate new account of one of the greatest naval dramas of World War II, from number one bestselling historian Max Hastings. Operation Pedestal was a crucial relief mission that became an epic, bloody naval battle and a pivotal moment in the Second World War. In 1942, the Luftwaffe had a stranglehold on Malta. In the months of April and May, they dropped more bombs on the island than on London in the entire Blitz. British attempts to bring in supplies and reinforcements were failing with heavy losses, and the people on Malta were closing in on starvation as the Axis attempted to force their surrender. Operation Pedestal saw an armada of fifty British ships, painstakingly loaded with food and medical supplies, ammunition and fuel, attempt to fight its way in convoy to the island. The ensuing battle was brutal on both sides, Italian submarines and German planes dealing serious damage alongside the naval skirmishing. Over the course of a few fierce days, Britain scraped a victory and ensured Malta's survival - though at the loss of a horrifying number of ships and lives. It was an emblematic moment when, in the cruel accountancy of war, the price was worth paying. In his signature brilliant style, Max Hastings gives a thrilling narrative of this little-known but crucial naval battle, retelling the intense action which perfectly encapsulates the spirit and power of the Royal Navy, surely the fiercest and most iconic fighting force of WW2.
Kurt Schindler was an impossible man. His daughter Meriel spent her adult life trying to keep him at bay. Kurt had made extravagant claims about their family history. Were they really related to Franz Kafka and Oscar Schindler, of Schindler's List fame? Or Hitler's Jewish doctor - Dr Bloch? What really happened on Kristallnacht, the night that Nazis beat Kurt's father half to death and ransacked the family home? When Kurt died in 2017, Meriel felt compelled to resolve her mixed feelings about him, and to solve the mysteries he had left behind. Starting with photos and papers found in Kurt's isolated cottage, Meriel embarked on a journey of discovery taking her to Austria, Italy and the USA. She reconnected family members scattered by feuding and war. She pieced together an extraordinary story taking in two centuries, two world wars and a family business: the famous Cafe Schindler. Launched in 1922 as an antidote to the horrors of the First World War, this grand cafe became the whirling social centre of Innsbruck. And then the Nazis arrived. Through the story of the Cafe Schindler and the threads that spool out from it, this moving book weaves together memoir, family history and an untold story of the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It explores the restorative power of writing, and offers readers a profound reflection on memory, truth, trauma and the importance of cake.
The most iconic planes of WWII, the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, DeHavilland Mosquito and the Avro Lancaster, were all powered by one engine, the Rolls-Royce Merlin. The story of the Merlin is one of British ingenuity at its height, of artistry and problem-solving that resulted in a war-winning design. Published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the 80th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain, Merlin is the extraordinary story of the development of the Rolls-Royce engine that would stop Hitler from invading Britain and carry the war to the very heart of Germany. The story of the Merlin engine encompasses the history of powered flight, from the ingenuity of the Wright Brothers to the horrors of World War I, and from the first crossing of the Atlantic to the heady days of flying in the 1920s. There is also the extraordinary story of the Schneider Trophy - an international contest wherein nations poised on the precipice of war competed for engineering excellence in the name of progress. And at the heart of this story are the glamourous lives of the pilots, many of whom died in their pursuit of speed; the engineers, like Henry Royce of Rolls-Royce, who sketched the engine that would win WWII in the sand of his local beach; and perhaps most importantly the Lady Lucy Houston who after the Wall Street Crash singlehandedly funded the development of the engine and the iconic Spitfire. Never was so much owed by so many to so few - and without the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the few would have been powerless.
The international bestselling author of the "exciting, suspenseful, inspirational" (Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Code Name: Lise weaves another exceptional and thrilling hidden history of an ordinary American girl who became one of the OSS's most daring spies in World War II before marrying into European nobility. Perfect for fans of A Woman of No Importance and Code Girls. When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live "a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious" (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes. Aline's life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services-forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid. Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections. Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country.
The end of World War Two saw an intense and deeply personal struggle for mastery of the Western world amidst the ruins of Berlin. In this thrilling account, bestselling historian Giles Milton recounts epic four-year drama that would culminate in The Berlin Airlift. It is the story of the ultimate game of roulette amongst the enigmatic larger-than-life personalities from rival powers: Britain, the United States, France and the Soviet Union. Drawing on previously unknown oral and written testimonies, Checkmate in Berlin tells - as never before - a story of flawed individuals each determined to win and the first battle of the Cold War.
It began with an armchair. It began with the surprise discovery of a stash of personal documents covered in swastikas sewn into its cushion. The SS Officer's Armchair is the story of what happened next, as Daniel Lee follows the trail of cold calls, documents, coincidences and family secrets, to uncover the life of one Dr Robert Griesinger from Stuttgart. Who was he? What had his life been - and how had it ended? Lee reveals the strange life of a man whose ambition propelled him to become part of the Nazi machinery of terror. He discovers his unexpected ancestral roots, untold stories of SS life and family fragmentation. As Lee delves deeper, Griesinger's responsibility as an active participant in Nazi crimes becomes clearer. Dr Robert Griesinger's name is not infamous. But to understand the inner workings of the Third Reich, we need to know not just its leaders, but the ordinary Nazis who made up its ranks. Revealing how Griesinger's choices reverberate into present-day Germany, and among descendants of perpetrators, Lee raises potent questions about blame, manipulation and responsibility. A historical detective story and a gripping account of one historian's hunt for answers, The SS Officer's Armchair is at once a unique addition to our understanding of Nazi Germany and a chilling reminder of how such regimes are made not by monsters, but by ordinary people.
The Spitfire a " there have been many hundreds, maybe even thousands, of books written about this beautiful R.J Mitchell designed, elliptically winged areoplane. But there has yet to be a book published, which has focused solely on the lesser-known two-seat variant of graceful Spitfirea |Until now! In two-seater spitfires, Greg Davis, John Sanderson and Peter Arnold trace the history of this iconic aircraft a " from its initial design through to those still taking to the skies today.
Unpublished for 50 years, this is the extraordinary true story of the girl who survived the holocaust against all of the odds. __________ 'First-hand accounts of life in Nazi Death camps never lose their terrible power but few are as extraordinary as Franci's War' Mail on Sunday __________ In 1942 Franci Epstein, a young Jewish woman, was imprisoned in Terezin, a concentration camp close to her home in Prague. Few could expect anything other than death. But for Franci it was the start of a journey that would take her into the very heart of Nazi genocide. Through a combination of guile, ingenuity, endurance and sheer bloody mindedness, Franci survived not one but five death camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. In this astonishing memoir, Franci lays bare the appalling sacrifices she and other women had to make to survive. __________ 'Achingly moving, gives much-needed hope. Deserves the status both as a valuable historical source and as a stand-out memoir' Daily Express
Chinese leaders once tried to suppress memories of their nation's brutal experience during World War II. Now they celebrate the "victory"-a key foundation of China's rising nationalism. For most of its history, the People's Republic of China limited public discussion of the war against Japan. It was an experience of victimization-and one that saw Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek fighting for the same goals. But now, as China grows more powerful, the meaning of the war is changing. Rana Mitter argues that China's reassessment of the World War II years is central to its newfound confidence abroad and to mounting nationalism at home. China's Good War begins with the academics who shepherded the once-taboo subject into wider discourse. Encouraged by reforms under Deng Xiaoping, they researched the Guomindang war effort, collaboration with the Japanese, and China's role in forming the post-1945 global order. But interest in the war would not stay confined to scholarly journals. Today public sites of memory-including museums, movies and television shows, street art, popular writing, and social media-define the war as a founding myth for an ascendant China. Wartime China emerges as victor rather than victim. The shifting story has nurtured a number of new views. One rehabilitates Chiang Kai-shek's war efforts, minimizing the bloody conflicts between him and Mao and aiming to heal the wounds of the Cultural Revolution. Another narrative positions Beijing as creator and protector of the international order that emerged from the war-an order, China argues, under threat today largely from the United States. China's radical reassessment of its collective memory of the war has created a new foundation for a people destined to shape the world.
South Africa’s Union Defence Force played an important part in World War II and also made tremendous sacrifices. By early 1941 South Africa had 30 000 troops in East Africa, where it helped drive the Italians out of Abyssinia and Somalia. This campaign was mere prelude to the operations it would conduct as part of the British Eighth Army against Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in North Africa.
In November 1941 the battle-hardened Afrika Korps decimated a South African force at Sidi Rezegh in Libya. Six weeks later, South Africans captured the ports of Bardia and Sollum, after Rommel withdrew to the west. Rommel regrouped and attacked again, driving the South Africans and British back toward the vital port of Tobruk. The situation was tenuous at best ‒ South African general Hendrik Klopper surrendered his trapped force of 35 000 men, including 10 000 South Africans, in June 1942.
When Rommel attacked El Alamein a week later, his lead elements were pinned down by South Africans, who went on to play a significant role in the month-long battle that halted Rommel’s advance into Egypt.
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