Thursday, December 19, 2013

Richard Osborne Is January Speaker

Our speaker for our next meeting, Tuesday January 21, 2014 will be Richard G. Osborne. Mr. Osborne is a former classmate of John J. McLaughlin at Columbia High School, Maplewood, New Jersey. Like many high school graduates, they depart school, do not keep in touch, and often do not see each other for many years. Such is the case with Richard Osborne.

Recently, John was privileged to be at an event where Richard was the guest speaker. The subject of the lecture was Winston S. Churchill. Richard gave a remarkable speech about Mr. Churchill, without notes, and without the ubiquitous teleprompter, the absence of which would render most politicians speechless.

We learned that after graduation from high school Richard served a tour in the United States Army with the A.S.A., the forerunner of the N.S.A. He earned a B.A. from Rutgers University followed by a law degree also from Rutgers. He spent 50 years as a professional manager of various privately held companies. He traveled widely and lived for a time in Greece and the U.K. All during this time he read widely in history, and became fascinated with the career of Winston Churchill. He is a founding member of the Churchill Center and a member of the Churchillian N.E. Chapter. Richard maintains a private library of over 3000 books. By any definition Mr. Osborne is truly a historian, and we are honored to have him as our guest. We look forward to a wonderful evening. Please mark the date.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bruce Tucker Video Available

Many thanks to Jasen Aziz and Ryan Sullivan, sophomores at Millburn High School, who filmed and edited the lecture!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tucker Lecture Draws Crowd

On November 19, 2013 Bruce Tucker gave a lecture to a crowd of 75 at the Millburn Library. Mr. Tucker's subject was the little known story of the British attack and destruction of the French Fleet anchored in North Africa on July 3, 1940. This event is consigned to a mere footnote in most history books and by many historians, but the event had profound consequences both for subsequent strategic military decisions and, perhaps more importantly, for the chilling effect it had on British and French relations, both during the rest of the war and thereafter. Charles de Gaulle, for one, the leader of the Free French never forgave Prime Minister Churchill, the one who ordered the attack. It poisoned their relationship for many years. Churchill's decision was driven by the fear that Hitler would commandeer the fleet, the third largest in the world at the time, and his decision is controversial to this day.
With dozens of pictures projected onto the screen and a vast knowledge of the subject, Mr. Tucker held the audience enthralled for the entire lecture. By the account of many it was one of  the best lectures the World War II Book has sponsored. For those unable to attend the lecture, it will be available for viewing by clicking on to the name of the lecture on the web site in about two weeks. We thank our young videographers Ryan Sullivan and Jasen Aziz, both students at Millburn High School for their professional service in videotaping the proceedings.  We also thank Sharon Austin, our photographer for taking and posting on our web site many pictures.
Holiday Party
There will be no lecture in December. The World War II Book Club will host its annual Holiday Party on Tuesday December 17 at Mayfair Farms in West Orange, NJ. Cocktails will be served at 6:30 and dinner at 7:30. The Cost is $50 per person. Complimentary wine will be provided. All other beverages  will be cash bar. Attendance is limited to dues paid members. Send checks to Dr. John J. McLaughlin 10 Farmstead Road Short Hills, NJ 07078.
Next Lecture
On Tuesday, January 21, 2014,  Richard Osborne will journey from Cape Cod and present a lecture on Winston Churchill. Mr. Osborne is a historian with a vast knowledge of Churchill, said by many to have been the "Man of the Century." John McLaughlin has heard Mr. Osborne's presentation and has declared it to be outstanding. Please mark your calendar. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cathryn Prince Video Available

For those who may have missed the October meeting, Cathryn Prince's lecture, "Death in the Baltic," is now available on Youtube, thanks to Jasen Aziz and Ryan Sullivan, Sophomores at Millburn High School, who filmed and edited the lecture.  Click here to view the video »

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bruce Tucker to present at next meeting

The next meeting of the New Jersey World War II Book Club will be Tuesday November 19, 2013, as usual at the Millburn Library, with the lecture commencing at 7 p.m.

Bruce Tucker
Mr. Bruce Tucker will present a lecture on the British attack and destruction of the French Fleet anchored in North Africa July 3, 1940.  Bruce Tucker holds a BA in Political Science and History and a MS degree in Information Technology and Project Management from Stevens Institute of Technology. He has many years of experience as an information technology professional, project manager and technical instructor. Bruce is also a local historian, a Civil War living history interpreter and an experienced history lecturer at Rutgers Adult Education Forum. He presents lectures and living history programs on American History, World History and Jewish American History to both adults and students at local colleges, libraries, schools and local organizations.

The British destruction of the French Fleet has been consigned to a mere footnote in the annals of World War II, but at the time it had the potential to change the course of the war. During the closing days of the Battle of France in 1940, and with the German victory all but assured, the British became increasingly worried about the disposition of the French fleet, the fourth largest navy in the world. Voicing these concerns to the French government, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was assured by Navy Minister Admiral François Darlan that even in defeat, the fleet would be kept from the Germans. In the surrender agreement with the Vichy Government, Hitler had agreed not to seize the French Fleet. But what worth was the word of Hitler! Not one to gamble, Churchill ordered the attack.

The attack on Mers-el-Kébir was part of Operation Catapult.  On July 3, 1940, the British Navy bombarded the French Navy at its base at French Algeria.  The assault from the United Kingdom, a former ally, was unexpected and resulted in the deaths of 1,297 French servicemen, the sinking of a battleship and the damaging of five other ships.

The attack, which remains controversial to this day, created much rancor between the United Kingdom and France and complicated the planning for the invasion of North Africa on November 8, 1942. There was even some suggestion that the British wear American uniforms because of the anger of the French over the destruction of their navy. Mr. Tucker will present on this little known aspect of World War II.

 For further information contact Dr. John J. McLaughlin at 973-467-3313.

Dues for the Upcoming Year
Membership Dues are $25.00 a year (September 2013 to August 2014) for a single membership and $30.00  for an entire family Accordingly, we ask all members to pay their dues now. Please send a check to John J. McLaughlin 10 Farmstead Road Short Hills, NJ 07078 or pay at the next meeting. Please, if possible pay by check to assist our bookkeeping.

Holiday Dinner
Mark your calendar. This year our Holiday Dinner will be at Mayfair Farms, West Orange, NJ. The date is Tuesday, December 17, 2013. The cost will $50.00 per person. There will be a cash bar, but complimentary wine will be served at dinner. Attendance is limited to dues paid members. Please send checks to John McLaughlin.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Flickr Gallery from October 15 Meeting

Thanks to Sharon Austin, pictures from the October meeting are available on Flickr.  The gallery includes images from Cathryn Prince's presentation on her recent book, Death in the Baltic.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ziobro Lecture Available on Youtube

For those who may have missed the September meeting, Melissa Ziobro's lecture, "The Women's Army Corps and Gender Integration of the U.S. Army during WWII," is now available on Youtube, thanks to Jasen Aziz and Ryan Sullivan, Sophomores at Millburn High School, who filmed and edited the lecture.  Click here to view the video »

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cathryn Prince to Speak at October Club Meeting

Next Meeting: Tuesday October 15, 2013 
The next meeting will be Tuesday October 15, 2013, as usual at the Millburn Library commencing at 7 p.m.

Cathryn J. Prince will present a lecture based on her recently published book
Death in the Baltic. Ms. Prince tells in stunning detail the story of the worst maritime disaster of World War II, when more than 9,000 German civilians drowned. This tragic loss went unreported. In January 1945 the outcome of the war had been determined. Germany was in free fall as the Russians closed in from the east. More than 10,000 women, children, sick and elderly pack aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a former cruise ship. Soon after leaving port three Soviet torpedoes strike it, inflicting catastrophic damage and throwing passengers into the frozen waters of the Baltic. Drawing on interviews with survivors as well as letters and diaries Ms. Prince reconstructs this forgotten moment in history. Her book has already received rave reviews. 

Ms. Prince is the author of A Professor, a President, and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science, for which she won the Connecticut Press Club's 2011 Book Award for non-fiction. She is a former correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor in Switzerland and in New York, where she covered the United Nations.  Learn more about Ms. Prince here »

Dues for the Upcoming Year 
Membership Dues are $25.00 a year (September 2013 to August 2014) for a single membership and $30.00 for an entire family. Accordingly, we ask all members to pay their dues now. Please send a check to John J. McLaughlin 10 Farmstead Road Short Hills, NJ 07078 or pay at the next meeting. Please, if possible pay by check to assist our bookkeeping.

Holiday Dinner - Save the Date 
Mark your calendar. This year our Holiday Dinner will be at Mayfair Farms, West Orange, NJ. The date is Tuesday, December 17, 2013. Cocktails 6:30. Details will be given in later announcements.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Who Will Do the Cooking?

Join the WAC Now!

 Melissa Ziobro launched the Club's first meeting of 2013-14 with a look at the human experience of gender integration in the nation's army.  The large audience responded warmly to Ms. Ziobro's tales of the women who broke the gender barrier to become WACs.  Although women had served to support  the military as both nurses in the Civil War and telephone / telegraph operators during World War I, they weren't considered as anything but support personnel, whose efforts were over when the conflict was.  As Ms. Ziobro explained, the "hello" girls who valiantly "manned" the phones during World War I, weren't awarded veteran status until 1978.  The excerpts from the congressional record, including the quote about who would do the cooking, reflected the concerns society had about the role of women in the military.  Apparently army commanders had no such concerns, eagerly supporting the creation of the Women's Army Corps so that women could fill non-combat jobs.

I'm in this war too! The presentation prompted many questions from the audience, including some concerning numbers and statistics.  In an e-mail, Ms. Ziobro provided the following sources that should help answer those questions:

Monday, August 5, 2013

September Lecture

Our next lecture will be on Tuesday, September 17, 7 p.m. at the Millburn Library. Melissa Ziobro will present a lecture based on her published article "The Women's Army Corps and Gender Integration of the U.S. Army during WWII" as published in On Point, the Journal of Army History. 

Melissa has earned a Masters Degree In United States History and is an instructor at Monmouth University. She serves on the executive council of Brookdale Community College Center for World War II Studies. She previously served as command historian at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tonight's Lecture Is Cancelled (June 13, 2013)

The Lecture for tonight is cancelled due to the severe weather predicted for this evening.  The lecture will be rescheduled.

Monday, May 20, 2013

June Meeting to be Held on Thursday

Unit 731 - Peter Williams and David Wallace
PLEASE NOTE: Due to a scheduling conflict, the next meeting of the NJ World War II Book Club will be on THURSDAY June 13, 7 p.m., as usual  at the Millburn Library.

Our speaker will be Barbara Boyer. Barbara is currently a teacher at South Plainfield High School. A summa cum laude graduate of Rider University,  Barbara Boyer holds a Master's Degree in Spanish Linguistics from Penn State and a second Master's Degree from Kean University.

Barbara has a keen interest in Asian history and in the summer of 2012 she traveled to China on a scholarship to study Chinese history. The focus was on China and Japan during World War II. Barbara's presentation will focus on a little known but  profoundly disturbing book by Peter Williams and David Wallace,  Unit 731 Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II.

During World War II Japanese scientists, with full knowledge and approval of their superiors,  secretly carried on a series of cruel and painful  medical experiments on prisoners of war, such as  injecting them with deadly bacteria, subjecting them to oxygen deprivation, submersing them in freezing water,  operating on them without anesthesia and much more, all in an effort to determine the outside limits of human endurance.   Thousands died from these callous experiments, yet the persons responsible were never punished after the war. Barbara will tell of of the secret agreement made between those responsible for these inhuman acts of torture and the Allies, and the reasons for the suppression of this story of man's inhumanity to man, and its legacy.

This is the last lecture of the season; we will resume our series in September.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

David Ulbrich to Speak at May Meeting

Preparing for Victory by David Ulbrich
David J. Ulbrich received his doctorate in history from Temple University in 2007.  The Naval Institute Press recently published his first book, Preparing for Victory: Thomas Holcomb and the Making of the Marine Corps, 1936-1943. This book won the 2012 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Prize for the outstanding book on Marine Corps history, and it also received an honorable mention for the 2012 Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature.

Ulbrich has served as historical consultant and on-air segment host for the award-winning Echoes of War: Stories from the Big Red One television documentary and as co-director of the Cantigny First Division Oral History Project. Both these projects were funded by the McCormick Foundation. 

Ulbrich has lectured at the National World War II Museum, Army War College, Naval War College, Temple University, Delaware Military Heritage and Education Center, and Brookdale Community College’s Center for the Study of World War II.  He is currently command historian at the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and senior instructor in Masters in Military History online program at Norwich University. Apart from his duties with the Army, Ulbrich is completing the manuscripts for two co-authored textbooks: Ways of War: American Military History from the Colonial Period to the 21stCentury; and Amphibious Warfare: An Interpretative History.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

David Stroebel at Next Meeting

David G. Stroebel, in his first book, The Cannon King's Daughter, tells the fascinating story of how Alfred Krupp, head of the  powerful Krupp Dynasty, managed to suppress the very existence of his rebellious daughter Engelbertha, shipped her to America, and "wiped the records of her birth" from German documents and Church records. William Manchester, in his Pulitzer Prize winning book missed this critical fact. Stroebel's dislosure of Engelbertha is likely to have some interesting consequences when German scholars and historians hear the full story. Stroebel will also tell us about the history of the Krupp Dynasty and the part it played in both World War I and World War II.

The lecture will be videotaped and sent to Germany where we are informed some German scholars eagerly await it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More Great Reviews logo
In his April 4, 2013 review, Cmdr. Aboul-Enein sums up John McLaughlin's book on Wedemeyer as " excellent read."  As Aboul-Enein notes, McLaughlin presents a Wedemeyer as both perceptive eye-witness to history and brilliant military strategist against a "... backdrop of inter-allied politics, pro-isolationist domestic political pressures..."

For the complete review in, click here »»

Friday, April 5, 2013

McLaughlin Book on Wedemeyer Gets Another Great Review

Dr. McLaughlin's book, General Albert C. Wedemeyer, America’s Unsung Strategist in World War II, has just received a very positive book review in On Point, The Online Journal of Army History.  The printed version of the journal is widely circulated in Nebraska, which happens to be Wedemeyer's home town.  Although the online version does not yet contain the recent review by Pete Ricketts, the book's publisher Casemate, contains an excerpt: 
“McLaughlin has produced an important study of a lesser known yet important general and the different prespectives on well known historical figures. It will also cause readers to think about the doctrines Wedemeyer advocated and how they apply to current US Foreign policy. This book is recommended to anyone who has an interest in geopolitical strategy.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, McLaughlin's newest project will find him in the classroom this fall, at the South Orange/Maplewood Adult School where he will be teaching a course about the China-Burma-India theater in World War II.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

April Speaker: David G. Stroebel

The next meeting of the NJ World War II Book Club will be on Tuesday, April 16, at  7 PM, as usual  at the Millburn Library.

Our speaker will be David G. Stroebel a local author who has just published his first book, The Cannon King's Daughter.

Mr.  Strobel, curious about his family history, began interviewing older family members and relatives about his Germanic roots. What started out as a personal quest for information about the family took a startlingly sharp turn when he stumbled on the very disturbing fact that his ancestors were the infamous Krupp family, the steel dynasty that supplied the German army in World War I and the Nazis in World War II with the U-Boat, machine guns, and massive cannon. 

This is a story told in exquisite detail by historian William Manchester in his prize winning The Arms of Krupp which provides the historical backdrop to Stroebel's family history. At the end of World War I the Allies sought unsuccessfully to punish the head of the Krupp dynasty. At the Nuremburg trials following World War II, Alfred Krupp was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for utilizing slave labor.  Mr. Stroebel, skillful using and other research tools, brings to light many details of the family history never previously disclosed.  In the process of researching his own history, Stroebel also gives his reader what amounts to a mini-tutorial in genealogical research, of particular use to those of us also interested in looking into family history. 

Members are reminded to check our web site and view the many photos that our talented photographer Sharon Austin has posted on the site. These photos are available for sale. Contact Sharon Austin at:, for more information.

Thanks also to Dr. Richard Schoenberg, who videotaped our last lecture.  Click here for the link >>

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stephan Talty Discusses Agent Garbo

Agent Garbo by Stephan Talty
The March 19 meeting of the NJ World War II Book Club was the occasion for a new format in the Club's monthly meetings, that of a hosted book discussion, with Dr. McLaughlin asking questions of the Agent Garbo author, Stephan Talty. In a departure from the usual lecture format, the evening proceeded with questions by Dr. McLaughlin ranging from requesting the author to tell the audience a bit about himself to asking about Joan Pujol's wife, his role in the Normandy invasion deception, as well as his life after the war (one could say two lives...).  If you missed this exciting evening, no worries, as the event was taped by Richard Schonberg and can be seen by clicking here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Global Contacts

One of the great benefits of our world of instant communication and worldwide reach is serendipitously finding people half-way across the globe who have similar interests.  Dr. McLaughlin just recently made contact with Peter Harmsen, author of
Shanghai 1937
Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze.

One of the most crucial and dramatic battles of the 20th century took place in  Shanghai, in the autumn months of 1937.   China’s largest city was engulfed in a deadly clash between Japanese invaders and forces commanded by the supreme Chinese leader of the time, Chiang Kai-shek. The battle, which involved hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides, marked the opening chapter in what was to become a protracted Sino-Japanese War. Therefore, it was also indirectly one of the main causes of America’s eventual entry into World War II.

Despite its enormous importance, the battle of Shanghai has been largely ignored in the west – until now. Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze, the first book-length treatment in any language other than Chinese, will be published in April by Casemate. The author is Peter Harmsen, who has been a foreign correspondent in East Asia for the past 20 years and is currently bureau chief for the French news agency AFP in Taiwan. In his spare time, Peter runs a blog,, which is dedicated to not just various aspects of the Shanghai battle, but also the overall 1937-45 Sino-Japanese War in all its complexity and diversity. “In western historiography, China is the last major remaining unexplored area of World War II, undeservedly so. China was a pivotal player, for example by tying up enough Japanese soldiers to prevent the Japanese empire from ever seriously considering an attack on the Soviet Union from the east,” Peter says. “However, with the growing profile of China in contemporary affairs, the western public is gradually beginning to nurture an interest in the country’s role as a combatant in World War II. I hope my book will make a modest contribution to satisfying some of this emerging curiosity about what actually happened in this key theater.”

Peter is in the privileged position of being able to read Mandarin and also has access to important archival sources in Taiwan, the successor state of Nationalist China, which did much of the fighting against Japan. If there are certain aspects of the Sino-Japanese War that members of the New Jersey World War II Book Club would like to see covered on his blog, he would be very interested to hear from them. They can contact him either via his website or directly by email While he cannot guarantee that any request will result in a blog post, each email will receive a personal reply.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Agent Garbo Author at next Meeting

The next meeting of the NJ World War II Book Club will be on Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m., as usual  at the Millburn Library.

Our speaker will be Stephan Talty, who will discuss his recently published book Agent Garbo, the extraordinary story of the brilliant, eccentric secret agent who tricked Hitler and saved D-Day. Agent Garbo is the astonishing story of Juan Pujol, a nobody, a Barcelona poultry farmer  a self-made secret agent who matched wits with the best minds of the Third Reich--and won. The manner in which Pujol managed to gain the confidence of the British, and then convince his Nazi contacts that he had access into the top levels of British Secret Service is a remarkable story.  Most remarkable is the fact that the story is true. It is no exaggeration that Pujol's wit, cunning, and steely nerves made the Allied victory in World War II possible by convincing Hitler that the main invasion force would be at  Pas de Calais, not Normandy.

Talty is the author of five non-fiction books. He lives outside New York City with his wife and  two children.

Members are reminded to check our web site: and view the many photos that our talented photographer Sharon Austin has posted on the site. These photos are available for sale. Contact Sharon Austin at:, for more information.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

February 2013 Meeting

The next meeting of the NJ World War II Book Club will be on Tuesday, February 19, 7 p.m., at the Millburn Library. William B. Rogers, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Casperson School of Graduate Studies at Drew University will be our guest lecturer. Dr. Rogers will lecture on the Conflict in the Pacific during World War II. Dr. Rogers was John McLaughlin's dissertation advisor at Drew and inspired John to expand his dissertation into a book length biography of General Wedemeyer. Dr. Rogers and John are currently working on a day long seminar on China in World War II which which will be jointly sponsored by Drew University and the World War II Book Club. The conference will take place in November 2013. More details will be provided when the date is selected and the  speakers are named.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 2013 Meeting

Next Meeting Tuesday January 15, 2013

The next meeting of the World War II Book Club will be Tuesday January 15, 2013, as usual at the Millburn Library commencing at 7PM. Our speaker will John W. Lanza,  author of the acclaimed Shot Down Over Italy-A True Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-occupied Italy during World War II.

The stories of the fate of the airmen remained a mystery for many years. Lanza, after a long search in an effort  to locate relatives of the survivors of the crash,  and a trip to the crash site in Italy, was able to piece together a captivating true story with many fascinating aspects, including a pilot who put his crew's safety above his own, airmen who trusted partisans with their lives and airmen who as prisoners of war survived inhumane conditions.

View Pictures of Our Meetings

As usual our hard working photographer Sharon Austin has done an outstanding job of taking pictures at our Holiday Party, and at our meetings. The pictures can be seen by going to the following web site:

Special Announcement-Tour of Italy Battlefields

World War II Book Club Members John McLaughlin, Miller Bugliari, and Richard Schonberg have arranged a tour of the main battlefields of Italy during World War II, including, but not limited to Sicily, Cassino, Salerno and Anzio. The tour will be 12 days from April 24 to May 6, 2013. Any member of the Book Club who is interested in joining the tour can visit World War II Tours web site:, or contact John McLaughlin for further details. We would love to have some of our members join us.