Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It is early afternoon in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. It is an oppressively hot early summer day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 89°F (32°C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 69% and the wind blowing from the north at 2 MPH (4 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 100°F (38°C). The forecast for today calls for mostly cloudy skies and a high of 96°F (35°C). Tonight, we can expect light rain. The low will be 75°F (24°C).
Well, looks like my To Be Read pile will grow considerably taller by one huge hardcover volume sooner than I expected.
As I wrote in On Books & Reading: My TBR Stack – Any Progress Yet? on June 7, I pre-ordered Peter Carrick-Adams’ Fire & Steel: The End of World War II in the West last week. Originally, Oxford University Press scheduled Fire & Steel’s “drop date” for July 1; but this morning I received a heads-up email from Amazon to let me know the release date was moved up to next week and that I will receive my order around June 22.
If you’re wondering what Fire & Steel will cover, here’s the publisher’s pre-release blurb, which no doubt will be also on the book’s dust jacket.
The final volume in one of the most acclaimed works of military history of this generation.
Here is Peter Caddick-Adams’ third volume in his trilogy about the final year of the Western front in World War Two. Fire & Steel covers the war’s final 100 days-beginning in late January 1945 and continuing until May 8th, 1945, when the German high command surrendered unconditionally to all Allied forces. Caddick-Adams’ previous two volumes in the acclaimed series-Sand & Steel, which covers the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and Snow & Steel, the definitive study of the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans’ final offensive in the war-have set the stage for this concluding volume.
In these final months of World War Two, all of Germany is ablaze, from daily bombing runs launched from just across its borders and incessant artillery fire from the east. In the west, the Allied progress was inexorable, with Eisenhower’s seven armies taking on Germany’s seven armies, town by town, bridge by bridge. With his customary narrative verve and utter mastery of the material, Caddick-Adams does these climactic final months full justice, from the capture of the Ludendorff Railway Bridge at Remagen, to the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, to the taking of Munich on Hitler’s birthday, April 20th, and through to VE Day. Fire & Steel ends with the return of prisoners, demobilization of servicemen, and the beginning of the occupation of Germany.
A triumphant concluding volume to one of the most distinguished works of military history of this generation.
When I get my copy next week, I will complete the third World War II-related trilogy of four in my collection and the second such set since I acquired Rick Atkinson’s The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe in 2013. (The other recent three-book series that I completed in recent years is Ian W. Toll’s Pacific War Trilogy – Pacific Crucible, The Conquering Tide, and Twilight of the Gods.)
The fourth trilogy – I guess historians and publishers like trilogies – about the Second World War that I have started is Richard B. Frank’s study of the Asia-Pacific War of 1937. It began with Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942, which covers the first five years of Japan’s military efforts to carve an empire in China and the Pacific – the East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, as Tokyo called its expansionary project – and to challenge American and European hegemony in the Far East.
Tower of Skulls was published in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was making itself felt in the U.S., and even though I received my copy then, I still have not finished it. I think the last time I read it I was at the two-thirds-of-the-way point, then put it aside because I was buying so many other books and reading those instead.
Now, I must figure out where in my smallish room I am going to put Caddick-Adams’ new tome.