Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Next Lecture: January 18, 2011 Terry Golway

There is no lecture scheduled for December. On Tuesday January 18, 2011 we will have a lecture by Terry Golway on his recently published book Together We Cannot Fail. Terry is a professor of History at Kean University. The book is a compilation of essays on the major Fireside Chats delivered by President Franklin Roosevelt during the War years. His radio addresses were heard by millions of Americans whose only source or news in those days was the newspaper and radio. Americans would huddle around the single radio they owned in those days, usually in the living room, and listed to his golden voice. Whatever your politics, no one can deny Roosevelt's gift for oratory!

Terry delivered a lecture on his book at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library a few months ago and Drs. McLaughlin and Lomazow were in the audience and immediately engaged him for a lecture for our Book Club. One delightful feature of Terry's book is that it comes with a CD of the major radio talks. When Professor Gumz delivered a lecture on D-Day a few months ago we played Roosevelt's famous "D-Day Prayer" speech that he delivered to the nation the evening of the D-Day invasion. It is a remarkable speech with heavy religious overtones, not likely to be ever heard in contemporary political addresses again. The sound quality of the speeches on the Disk are remarkable. Please don't miss this lecture.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Next Lecture October 19, 2010

Thomas Fleming, author of over 40 books has written only one devoted to World War 2, but it is an outstanding award winning contribution, The New Dealers' War-F.D.R. and the War Within World War II. Mr. Fleming will appear at the Book Club on Tuesday October 19, same time and place. We urge you to read this book before the lecture to obtain the most pleasure from the lecture. Most libraries have it, and it can be purchased for under five dollars on the web. Anyone wishing to purchase the book, we recommend you look at AbeBooks.com which has a substantial number available. This book relates in fascinating detail all the behind the scenes dealings in the Roosevelt administration during the war, and the political and military decisions which had a critical impact on the course of the war.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dr. McLaughlin Wedemeyer Lectures, Friday Oct. 8th and Tuesday Oct 12th

Dr. McLaughlin is scheduled to give a lecture about General Wedemeyer at New York Military Affairs Symposium (NYMAS) 283 Lexington Avenue New York on Friday October 8, 2010 at 7PM. He is also scheduled to lecture on General Wedemeyer at Brookdale College, Lincroft New Jersey Tuesday October 12, at 7:30PM.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Next Meeting: September 21st

We are proud to announce that our next guest lecturer is Dr. Jonathan Gumz, Assistant Professor of History at the Unites States Military Academy at West Point.

Professor Gumz earned his B.A and M.A in history at the University of Wisconsin, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

His lecture will discuss little known facts about the D Day Invasion and offer his perspectives on strategic alternatives.

As usual, the meeting will be held at the Millburn Public Library and commence at 7 PM.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 29, 2010 Meeting

The New Jersey World War 2 Book Club, a Not For Profit New Jersey Corporation is pleased to announce a lecture by the distinguished author Elizabeth M. Norman, Ph.D.

The lecture will be on Tuesday June 29, 2010, from 7 to 9PM at the Millburn Library 200 Glen Avenue Millburn, New Jersey [next to the Millburn Train Station] She will discuss her acclaimed book We Band of Angels, the story of the heroic American nurses trapped on Bataan by the Japanese during the first months of World War 2, and forced to spend the entire war on Corregidor island as prisoners of the Japanese. As Stephen Ambrose said, these nurses "...were the bravest of the brave, who endured unspeakable pain and torture. Americans today should thank God we had such women."

Elizabeth Norman is the daughter of two World War 2 veterans. Her father served with the United States Army in Europe in 1944, and her mother was in uniform with the Coast Guard. Elizabeth, a registered nurse, turned after graduation to a career in writing. She earned her graduate and doctoral degrees from New York University and graduated with a Ph.D in 1986. She is also a member of the tenured faculty of New York University, where she teaches history, writing and research design in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.

In addition to We Band of Angles Elizabeth Norman is the author of Women at War: the Story of Fifty Military Nurses Who Served in Vietnam in 1965-1973. These books preceded the award winning Tears in the Darkness which she co authored with her husband. Tears in the Darkness is the story of the Bataan Death March. The Normans spent ten years researching and interviewing for Tears in the Darkness, and made four trips to Asia and crossed America several times for the book.

The Normans have two grown sons, Joshua and Benjamin, and a daughter-in-law Rachel Cahn Norman. For most of their married life they have lived in Montclair, New Jersey.

This lecture concludes the first successful year of the World War 2 Book which will pick up the lecture series after the summer break with a lecture by Johathan Gumz, professor at the United States Military Academy who will discuss little known stories of the D-Day Invasion.

Admission is free for first time guests. Anyone interested in additional information can contact A. Ralph Kristeller, M.D. Chair of the event at 973-822-9288 or rkistelle@aol.com or Dr. John J. McLaughlin at the address listed above.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Next Meeting May 18, 2010

On Tuesday May 18 we will hear a lecture by Harry Ettlinger on the Monuments Men, a book about the men designated by the American Military to retrieve valuable art objects stolen by the Nazis during World War 2. Ettlinger, a Morris County resident is the last surviving member of this elite group of soldiers entrusted with this unique mission. He also has a fascinating story to tell about his being in the very last group of Jews allowed to leave Germany before the gates slammed shut and those left behind were consigned to concentration camps by the Nazis. Don't miss this exciting lecture. As usual all meetings at the Millburn Library 200 Glen Avenue Millburn, NJ next to the Millburn Train Station. The meeting starts at 7PM and will be over approximately 8:30 PM.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Next Meeting April 20, 2010

The next meeting of the World War 2 Book Club will be on April 20. Historian and author David Sears will discuss his popular book At War With The Wind. Sears is a Morris County resident, and in addition to writing several other books on the war in the Pacific works as a business consultant. He is a former officer in the United States Navy with extensive sea duty aboard a destroyer and in addition is a Vietnam war veteran. In writing At War With the Wind he carried out original research and conducted hundreds of interviews.

The war in the Pacific theatre has often been overlooked in favor of the European conflict, but the current HBO series on the war in this neglected theatre has brought this subject back to the forefront. Don't miss this exciting evening. As always the meetings run from 7 to 9 PM at the Millburn Public Library.

There will be an opportunity to purchase signed copies of his book at the conclusion of the lecture.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Next Meeting March 16, 2010

Panel Discussion of Paul Fussell's Wartime
On March 16, 2010 we will try a new format. There will be a three person panel discussion of Paul Fussell's popular Wartime, a fascinating exploration of the social, economic, and political events on the home front during World War 2.
The Panel members will be Trina Frankel, M.D., Joseph R. Purcell, Esq. and William L. Clayton. There will be ample opportunity for audience participation, and members are urged to read this book prior to the meeting. It is available at most book stores, or on line for a few dollars at ABEbooks.com. In addition there will be a display of memorabilia including pictures of the many propaganda posters, American, German and Japanese which appeared during the war.
Please join us for what promises to be a fun evening.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A New Look at "Vinegar" Joe Stillwell

This article originally appeared on HNN on 1-04-10

A Closer Look at "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell
By John J. McLaughlin
Mr. McLaughlin received his PhD in history from Drew University in 2008. His dissertation focused on General Albert C. Wedemeyer.

Americans rightly regard General Joseph W. Stilwell as a hero. Few know that he was a total failure with respect to his primary mission which was to be the Commander of American Forces in the China Burma India theater (CBI) and Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek! That story has not been told.

Stilwell became an iconic hero in the annals of World War II. His famous "walk out from Burma," his salty language, and his later retaking of Burma in 1944 generated a good deal of interest at a time when the American public was starving for heroes. The official history of World War II, the 79 volumes of the "Green Book" series devoted three volumes to the CBI where Stilwell served in World War II and praise him highly for his efforts in Burma and China. Popular historian Barbara Tuchman in her best seller Stillwell and the American Experience in China writes glowingly of his exploits, and in turn disparagingly of his successor, General Albert C. Wedemeyer. She found Wedemeyer's use of an exclamation mark in his own 1958 memoir, Wedemeyer Reports! to be pompous and, in a foot stamping put down said: "Not given, as he climbed, to reticence about his virtues, he subsequently vindicated his career in a book which bore his own name and an exclamation point in the title." When Stilwell was recalled in October 1944 by President Roosevelt the decision was widely unpopular in the American press. Drew Pearson, the influential Washington columnist, ridiculed Wedemeyer's new assignment in a column in the Washington Times, and many others agreed. Not surprisingly Wedemeyer, as his replacement was given little credit for his efforts in China. The disdain that Stilwell had for Wedemeyer, often expressed verbally and in print did little to enhance Wedemeyer's image in the popular press. When in October 1944 Stilwell finally realized he was to be replaced he stated he hoped it would not be by Wedemeyer, who he said was the "world's most pompous prick."

Clearly Stilwell was easy to write about and was popular with both his troops and the press. When in the Spring of 1942 he took over a hopeless task in Burma he was soundly defeated and driven from Burma by a vastly better equipped, better organized and highly motivated Japanese army. When at last he finally realized there was no hope he consented to have his dispirited forces evacuated by plane, just hours away from capture. He refused to board the last available plane sent to rescue him. His last message repeated all over the world was " I prefer to walk," and walk he did, through dense forest, underbrush, bamboo thickets, steep mountainsides, biting ants, bloodthirsty bugs and leaches, dehydration, hunger, and withering sun. A three star general, 59 years of age, who wore no insignia or rank, he lead his retreating group on foot. They were beset with bouts of food poisoning, a withering sun and malaria, all the while just days, and sometimes hours away from the pursuing Japanese. Stilwell did not lose a single one of the 115 who accompanied him in this retreat. Reporter Jack Belden, part of the this group which could not make the last plane, accompanied Stilwell and an assorted group of nurses, soldiers and civilian and told the remarkable story in his best seller Retreat With Stilwell.

The retreat was closely followed and reported by the world press and generated enormous interest. Several books have been written about the retreat. When his group finally reached India his "walk-out" was reported in every major newspaper in the world and he was famous. He was mobbed at the airport by a swarm of over a hundred newsman and photographers. There was little good news at the time and his retreat and promise to return and retake Burma put him on the cover of many major newspapers and magazines.

In the fall of 1943 and the spring of 1944, largely with Chinese troops he personally trained he led a force into Burma which in a six month period drove the Japanese from Burma and reopened the Burma Road. He personally led these forces from a front line position with little or no regard for his own safety. For his efforts he won his fourth star, ironically on the recommendation of a man he hated, General Wedemeyer.

So, what is there to find fault with about Stilwell? Wedemeyer, relates how when he arrived at Kunming China in October 1944 to replace Stilwell, there was no one there to brief him on events that had transpired in China in the previous six months that Stilwell had been totally incommunicado in Burma. Stilwell had left without waiting to brief Wedemeyer, and left no operational plans to guide him. For this serious breach of military courtesy Stilwell has never been called to task. Moreover, during that same 6 month period the Japanese had launched their last desperate offensive and but for the intervention of Wedemeyer with new troops assigned to him by Chiang Kai-shek, China's last air depot Kunming, the terminal for the air transport over "The Hump" would have been lost and China would have been totally cut off. One critic who recognized the strategic blunder of Stilwell, and saw the anomaly of a three star general in the jungles on the front lines called Stilwell, "the best three star battalion commander in the United States Army."

Perhaps more importantly, it was Stilwell's myopic view of his function in China, namely to beat the Japanese, using the combined forces of the Nationalists and the Communists in one integrated army, an inherently impossible task, which set him apart from Wedemeyer. Unlike Stilwell, Wedemeyer understood the menace of Communism. Stilwell naively thought, as General Marshall did later in 1945, that he could blend these forces into one fighting unit against the Japanese. He used his power over Lend Lease material in an effort to bend Chiang Kai-shek to his will and force him to absorb the Communist troops and Nationalist troops into one army. Stilwell hated Chiang Kai-shek, and his attitude greatly influenced both General Marshall and the American Foreign Service Officers who were influential in encouraging the State Department to withhold aid to the Nationalists. The Communist forces benefited greatly from these decisions.

Wedemeyer, on the other hand repeatedly warned the State Department, his superiors, and both Roosevelt and Truman that failure to support Chiang Kai-shek would ultimately lead to a Communist take over of China. He reiterated these recommendations in his famous 1947 report to President Truman but the report was suppressed, and the result was a Communist take over in 1949. All Wedemeyer's recommendations, like the mythical Cassandra, were accurate, but not believed.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Next Meeting February 16, 2010 - FDR's Deadly Secret

New Jersey World War 2 Book Club Announces A Lecture by
Steven Lomazow, MD.

Where: The Millburn Library

When: Tuesday February 16, 2010

Dr Lomazow will be speaking about his recently released book FDR's Deadly Secret. Dr. Lomazow, a practicing Neurologist is a member of the Book Club and has written a fascinating medical detective story about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's battle with the deadly and fatal disease of melanoma, a cancer, which he and his medical and political consultants deliberately concealed from the public. The book raises intriguing questions about the tension between a patient's right to privacy, a doctor's duty not to disclose the nature of a patient's illness, and the public's right to know, when the disease might well impair the President's ability to deal with questions affecting the nation's national security. Judge Andrew Napolitano, of Fox News, called the book "dynamite"; the book has been extensively reviewed in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and is currently a History Book Club selection.

Any one with questions contact Dr. John J. McLaughlin at 973-467-3313 or NJWW2BookClub@aol.com