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So Much Owed
By Hilary Williamson
November 2004 (updated November 2006)

Ten million died in World War I (1914-1918) (a world record in destruction at the time). It was so terrible that people thought it surely must be 'the war to end all wars'. Then came World War II (1939-1945). Winston Churchill's rousing speeches immediately come to mind, with phrases that have marched into everyday use, like 'Never ... was so much owed by so many to so few'. But deaths were not 'so few', with 56 million casualties in total, the majority this time civilians.

So much owed ... and 'Lest we forget', we reflect on it annually on November 11th around the world - as Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth and several European countries. To those of us who grew up with parents or grandparents who lived through those times, it seems impossible that they could ever be forgotten. But we're in a new millennium with its own conflicts and tragedies, and the two 'Great Wars' are steadily receding into history. Now we need books to bring those times back to mind and memory; here's a selection ...

World War I

The Englishman's Daughter by Ben MacIntyre
Why British soldiers, who were hidden by French villagers, were betrayed.

Never Give In! edited by Winston S. Churchill
'The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches'.

A World Undone by G. J. Meyer
'The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918'.

World War II

Brotherhood of the Bomb by Gregg Herken
A tragi-comic morality tale on the conflict between science and politics.

The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek & Lee Cohen
'Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival'.

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack by Charles Osgood
Reminiscences on 'A Boyhood Year During World War II'.

Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life by Carlo D'Este
A many faceted and complex man facing a monumental task.

The Flame Keepers by Ned Handy & Kemp Battle
'True Story of an American Soldier's Survival Inside Stalag 17'.

Flyboys by James Bradley
Fate of airmen on Chichi Jima in the Pacific arena of World War II.

I Am First A Human Being edited by Irene Tomaszewski
'The Prison Letters of Krystyna Wituska'.

Letters from the End of the World by Toyofumi Ogura
'A Firsthand Account of the Bombing of Hiroshim'.

No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love by Walter Ford Carter & Terry Golway
Shows the rippling damage war does to families down through the years.

A Question of Honor by Lynne Olson & Stanley Cloud
Heroic exploits of Polish airmen, the Kosciuszko Squadron, during WW II.

Roosevelt's Secret War by Joseph E. Persico
Eye-opening revelations that show us an FDR we've never seen before.

A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous
'Eight Weeks in the Conquered City'.

In recognition of so much that is and always will be owed, read books about the Great Wars, teach the next generation about what happened, and choose never to forget.

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