For me, a non-fiction book has done its job if I am compelled to go online and get more information. I call it the ‘piqued interest’ formula. Jeremy Harwood’s book Unexplained Mysteries of World War II definitely passed my ‘compulsion to go online’ test.
I’m quite the WW2 buff and I love mysteries. Put them both together and I’m very happy. As a self-confessed WW2 nerd, lots of these mysteries I had encountered before. I knew all about them, and the basics of their stories, but it was still good to get a fresh compilation of them.
A good result for a book on history is when it shows you something new. The Internet has allowed so many new history aficionados to emerge. Plus, if you have ever watched the History channel for more than a month you will have pretty much seen every minute of archival WW2 footage pieced together with a different dramatic music bed depending on how bad they want Hitler to appear.
If you spoke German you would also know that all those rants you see Hitler going full tilt in, with the accompanying evil music, are nothing more than him spouting off about an economic policy or new bus station. Nothing all that sinister as you have been led to believe.
Well, this book shows you some new things. Not entirely all new information, and not new stories, but a new approach to them at least. It has the well-worn Rudolph Hess story and one about the chap in the above paragraph. But for the most part, a lot of these stories will be relatively new to most readers or and especially those that get their information form the History Channel.
You can find a lot of information about these stories online, but you are creating a very long headache online session filtering through all the waffle out there. Not to mention opinions and crack pot conspiracies regarding the mysteries themselves. It’s best to start here then go online once you are intrigued enough. Most of the stories have some very logical conclusions, as pointed out in the book. For example, where did all the missing art work go that was stolen by the Nazi’s and never recovered? Spoiler alert, they burned it. Case closed.
Spoiler alerts aside, some of these mysteries are actually unsolved, well aspects at least. A lot of the mystery comes down the fact that there are so many oddities surrounding the choices folks had to make back in WW2, that looking back on them now they seem very weird and, well, mysterious.
With all mysteries there are a fair share of conspiracies too, most are taken into account and analysed. Things that people are driven to during Wartime, hopefully will always remain a mystery to all of us. What this book does is compile some of the more engaging mysteries to emerge from the era, ones that will definitely get you champing at the bit for more.