(This page covers the history of the war, the resistance, and the aftermath of the war. For women in the war, the Women's Army Corps, and gays and lesbians in the war, see next page. For the Holocaust, refugees and displaced persons, repatriation, and other resources, see page three.)
I have been interested in World War II most of my life. Having been born only nine years after the end of the war, my childhood was shaped by its memories in the minds of the adults around me, and the lessons my society had chosen to learn. 'The War' was always the Second World War, and it was a Good War.
So I wrote The Wolf Ticket with a great deal of knowledge about the war already in my head. However, I also did my research, and I offer a selection from my reading list for those who would like to learn more about various aspects of this period of history.
I had no access to the Internet while I researched and wrote the novel, but I include here many sites that I consider good introductions to the topics. The Web is wide, shallow and ephemeral; books are deeper and more detailed. Those who seek more than an introduction should go to their libraries and bookshops.
World War II in Europe
There are many good general histories of the war written from the western Allied (American, British) perspective. I recommend The Second World War by John Keegan and The Struggle for Europe by Chester Wilmot. From the German perspective, try Wehrmacht: The Illustrated History of the German Army in WW II by John Pimlott and Christopher Ailsby and, for the Russian war, The 'Great Patriotic War': The Illustrated History of the Soviet Union at War with Germany, 1941-1945, edited by Peter Tsouras and Vladimir Fioforovich, with a shorter, but very good, version of Russia's story by Richard Overy: Russia's War: Blood Upon the Snow. D-Day is written about endlessly; D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose offers a panorama of that event, while John Keegan's Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris is a good military assessment of D-Day and the aftermath. The Allied halt on the eastern border of France in the autumn of 1944, and the history of the war through the autumn and winter of 19944/45, can be found in The Battle for the Rhineland by R. W. Thompson, while the Battle for the Ardennes is most easily digested in the patriotic Battle: The Story of the Bulge by John Toland. The final months of the war are again captured in cinematic prose by John Toland in The Last 100 Days, and in The Last Phase: The Allied Victory in Western Europe by Walter Millis, first published in 1946, and therefore limited, if stirring. A modern, thoughtful book is Why the Allies Won by Richard Overy. The ordinary soldier's story can be found in The Conquest of the Reich: D-Day to VE-Day: A Soldier's History, edited from eyewitness accounts by Robin Neillands. A day-by-day chronology of the whole war is to be found in World War II Almanac 1931-1945, A Political and Military Record by Robert Goralski. A good chronology of 1945, containing many informative links, can be found at WW II The World at War 1945. World War II Links is just that, and worth looking up. For a soldier's eye view of the horrors of war, Paul Fussell's essay The Real War is a sober, grim, important read. WWII might have been a Good War, but only as far as the reasonsfor going to war get you.
Domination and Resistance
Jack Kuper's autobiographical account of his boyhood on the run in Poland during the war is painful, necessary reading, as is Jerzy Kosinski's rather more fictional, but no less difficult, account in The Painted Bird. Deportation and Exile: Poles in the Soviet Union, 1939-48 by Peter Calvocoressi covers the fate of the Poles under Hitler's erstwhile ally, while The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 by Richard C. Lukas and Norman Davies gives the other half of the story. The autobiography of a Polish partisan, in Thirteen is My Lucky Number: The Dramatic True Story of a Polish Resistance Fighter by Bill C. Biega, shows one man's view of the war for Poland, while The Polish Underground State by Stefan Korbonski gives a broader political view. A general history of resistance efforts can be found in Unarmed Against Hitler: Civilian Resistance in Europe 1939-1943 by Jacques Semelin (translated by Suzan Husserl-Kapit). Sites containing information about the Poles in WWII, and particularly the Polish Resistance, can be found in this history by Polish Veterans now in Great Britain. A very short summary of the 1939-45 period in Poland can be found at this history of Poland site. There are many sites concerning the Jewish Resistance; this one gives a bibliography. Vichy France's history is well covered in France Under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise by Philippe Burrin (translated by Janet Lloyd) and in Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-44 by Robert Paxton. Those who want to know more about the Free French under Charles de Gaulle can start with this potted history of the Free French, with links to the Resistance. The best online histories of the French Resistance are, unfortunately, in French, but there is a good summary of the Liberation of Paris. I cover women's involvement in the resistance under "Women in the War" on the next page.
After the War
The Wolf Ticket takes place in the last months of the European war and the summer of 1945. Armed Truce: the Beginnings of the Cold War 1945-46 by Hugh Thomas covers this period in detail. Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century by R. J. Crampton offers a country-by-country history of the post-war months and years. Paris After the Liberation 1944-1949 by Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper is a vivid description of Paris in its victory and suffering. The title story in the short story collection The Honeyed Peace by Martha Gellhorn captures life in Paris immediately after the war. The post-war political situation is best covered in Fall Out: World War II and the Shaping of Postwar Europe by Peter Calvocoressi. Bitter Legacy: Polish American Relations in the Wake of World War II by Richard Lucas is useful reading, as is the rather heavy-going The Origins of the Cold War in Comparative Perspective: American, British and Canadian Relations with the Soviet Union, 1941-48 by Lawrence Robert Aronsen et al.
I cover other aspects of the background to The Wolf Ticket in further resources on the following pages.