Glen Craney is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He is a Chaucer Awards First-Place Winner, a two-time indie BRAG Medallion Honoree, and a three-time Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year-Award Finalist. Craney’s research for this book included the Daughters of the Texas Republic Library, the UCLA Special Collections Library, and the Raymond H. Fogler Library. Fans of historical fiction should read his books.
Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI
Military Writers Society of America: “…a vivid picture of not only men being deprived of their veterans’ rights, but of their human rights as well….[an] admirable book.”
WW1HA member Kermit Mercer has found a unique way to understand the war with his novel about Verdun based on conversations with World War One poilu (French soldiers).
Mercer lived in the Verdun area while serving with the USAF. He got to know many of the veterans when they were in their early 60s and wrote down their stories in the year after he returned home. His notes were not appropriate for a formal history so he turned them into a gripping novel with insights into the hell that was the war’s longest battle.
This is not summer beach reading. The long-forgotten details about life in the Verdun trenches are surprising and enlightening, like the need to always hold utensils over a candle before eating to avoid dysentery, or how seasoned poilu could tell from the location of shell bursts that an inexperienced German artillery team was at work. In many ways, National Flowers is an excellent supplement to the recently translated memoir Poilu by Caporal Louis Barthas. This is a novel for the serious historian.
Reviewed by Steve Suddaby, past president of WW1HA
This is the story of a Brooklyn man of German descent and his adventures in Belgium in the opening campaign of World War One. It presents an entertaining, almost unbelievable, series of events in compelling detail. Klekowski has written other non-fiction books, including Americans in Occupied Belgium, 1914-1918, and created several TV documentaries, including one on WW1 volunteer ambulance drivers.
The protagonist, Paul Meyer, enlisted in the German Navy at the beginning of the war and survives a crash landing of the Zeppelin on which he was serving as an engineer. His American attitudes clash with many in the German military, but somehow he lurches from event to event learning survival skills and giving the reader a look at the chaos behind the front lines of the German advance on the Western Front.
Unfortunately, the author adds lots of historical detail even when it interrupts the story—what eventually happens to famous historical figures who appear briefly in the book does not advance the story. An appendix or afterword would have been more appropriate. Despite this flaw it’s a good read.
Kirkus Reviews enthused that the Edgar Award-winning best-selling author Robert Goddard’s James Maxted Thrillers are “A sophisticated spy story with serious historical chops.” Publishers Weekly noted that “Characterization and dialogue are topnotch … Readers will look forward to seeing these characters spar again.”
Royal Flying Corps veteran Lieutenant James “Max” Maxted was introduced in the first volume in 2013. His diplomat father Sir Henry is in Paris for the Versailles Treaty and is found dead after a fall from a roof. The French police conclude it’s an accident but Max finds evidence of espionage and government double-crossing.
The second volume finds the young ex-aviator working as a double agent as he tries to learn more about his father’s murder. Working with legendary German spy Fritz Lemmer, who claims responsibility for Max’s father’s death, he makes yet more disturbing discoveries.
In the third and final volume the action shifts from Paris and the signing of the Versailles Treaty to Japan where Max was born. The ending should satisfy fans of Goddard’s work.
One of the things to savor in this series is the slower passage of time and information dissemination one hundred years ago. An attempt to outsmart surveillance with changing trains; the need to obtain and protect photographic negatives; and the rare use of weapons are eloquent reminders of how the world has changed.
Len's Summary: First published posthumously in Germany in 1982, this is a novel about post-WWI Vienna and the frayed society left behind with the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Zweig (1881-1942), an Austrian Jew and author of The World Yesterday (1941) was forced into exile in 1934 and died by his own hand in Brazil in 1941. Stefen Zweig should not be confused with the German Arnold Zweig, author of the classic WWI novels Education Before Verdun and The Case of Sergeant Griska.
Len's Summary: A powerful novel (first published in 1939) by Austrian master writer Zweig who traces the disintegration of an Austro-Hungarian Army officer even as Europe marches toward the 1914-18 cataclysm. At the height of his literary career in the 1920s and 30s, Zweig was one of the most famous writers in the world. Many of his books reflect nostalgia for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Len's Summary: A shell shocked British officer returns to his stately upper class English home suffering from amnesia. A view of the shifting nature of the British upper classes after the upheavals of the Great War.
Len's Summary: First published in 1934, this novel of WWI of French troops on the Bulgarian front and postwar occupation duty in Bucharest won a Prix Goncourt and war made into a motion picture available on DVD and video tape.
Len's Summary: The first in a series of counter-factual historical novels set during WWI. This one finds a divided America on opposite sides of the conflict with Wilson’s Confederate States of America allied with Great Britain and the USA led by Teddy Roosevelt aligned with Imperial Germany. The second in this series is subtitled A Walk in Hell (ISBN 978 0 34544 0562 3).
Len's Summary: A massive historical novel first published to near universal acclaim in 1971; a mixture of well-researched fact and fictional Russian characters involved in the disastrous battle of Tannenberg.
Len's Summary: First published in 1930, this is a bitter- sweet novel about British volunteer nurses (VADs) behind the Western Front. Advertised as autobiographical, it is likely based on the diaries of ambulance driver Winifred Young.
Len's Summary: Written by an Austrian novelist, essayist, journalist and war veteran about the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during WWI and the post war-world of mitteleuropa. The second of two ironic novels tracing the saga of three generations the Trotta family; of world literary rank.
Len's Summary: Three novels Now God Be Thanked, Heart of War and By the Green of the Spring tracing the experiences of a family of aristocratic landed English gentry, their associates and servants during the Great War. Available from used booksellers. John Masters, a retired British Indian Army officer, is best known for his novels about India including The Night Runners of Bengal and Bwani Junction.
Len's Summary: A young, polio-crippled Frenchwoman, Mathilde Donnay, investigates the web of deception that shrouds the fate of five soldiers condemned for self-inflicted wounds. All five, including her fiancé, are reported dead. Refusing to believe this, the shrewd Mathilde hires a private detective, enlists the help of family and acquaintance and travels far and wide to unravel the cover-up and find her missing lover. Told at many levels and in many voices, the is at once a war novel, mystery and a love story.. The author uses many techniques including documents, flashbacks and brief, but brilliant character sketches to paint a vivid vision of wartime and postwar France. Winner of the prestigious Prix Interallie in 1991, and a best-seller in France, this novel received well deserved praise in the United States when it was first published here in translation in 1996. A movie based on it was released in 2004 and was subsequently nominated for two Academy Awards.
Len's Summary: Hilarious classic satire first published in 1917 from a leading Czech author and WWI veteran about the adventures of a bumbling yet cunning Czech soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Also available in Penguin paperback from Barnes & Noble. Buy this affordable hardcover copy for the fine illustrations.
Len's Summary: Another in the Joseph M. Broccoli WWI Series, this novel was first published as Jahrgang 1902, this book tells the story of the German home front as seen through the eyes of an under-draft-age youth.
Len's Summary: Gann (1910-1991) barnstormer, commercial and WWII USAAF transport pilot was the author of The High and the Mighty, Fate is the Hunter and 19 other bestsellers and one of America’s premier novelists who specialized in aviation. This is the fictional tale of two combat fliers, one French, one German, fighting over the Chemin des Dames in the spring of 1917. Several of Gann’s books have been made into major motion pictures.
Len's Summary: First published in 1936, this novel recounts the experiences in WWI of Herbert Curzon, a mediocre cavalry officer who rises from battalion command to head up a BEF army on the Western Front which collapses in the face of the German onslaught of spring 1918. Often thought to be the fictionalized story of General Hubert Plummer, this book makes an exceptional read. Forester is best known for the fictional Napoleonic War-at-sea Hornblower series and for his novel The African Queen set in WWI-era Africa.
Len's Summary: A 1915 story of deception and betrayal set just before WWI; by an exceptional British author who also crafted the acclaimed tetrology Parade’s End about his WWI experiences, A Man Could Stand Up and Zeppelin Nights.
The Devil's Lieutenant by M. Fagyas ISBN: 978-0399102080 Published byPutnam on June 1970 Genres:Fiction Pages: 392
Len's Summary: A murder mystery featuring the Austro-Hungarian officer corps in 1910 Vienna and elsewhere in the ramshackle, multinational and polyglot Habsburg Empire. Intrigue in the Imperial and Royal Army as Austria-Hungary stumbles toward war. A fast-paced and finely crafted fictionalized glimpse of a decaying Empire written by the daughter of an imperial officer.
Len's Summary: Considered Dos Passos’ greatest novel first published in 1925, this is a series of short stories, an expressionistic look at New York City in the 1920s; its protagonists, including returning Doughboys, struggle to live the American dream. Dos Passos, a leading member of “the lost generation,” was himself a WWI veteran, an ambulance driver in France and Italy.
Len's Summary: A passionate indictment of war with colorful descriptions of France during the conflict, this was Dos Passos first novel. He served Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps in France and with the American Red Cross Northern Italy before volunteering for the U. S. Army Medical Corps in 1918. Available used from several booksellers.
Len's Summary: An autobiographical account of Cummings’ arrest and imprisonment for alleged treason in France during WWI. Cummings served as an American volunteer driver in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps. First published in 1922.
Ambassador Shurtleff, a retired American Foreign Service officer who served as President of The World War One Historical Association and as a past President of The Western Front Association – U S Branch, passed away on January 22, 2014. The searchable version of Len’s Bookshelf was created and will be maintained in his honor.