Monday, May 29, 2006

Unexplained Mysteries of World War II

I recently finished reading Unexplained Mysteries of World War II by William B. Breuer. It was a fun easy read book with lots of short stories that allow for a book you can put down and pick up again frequently without having any difficulty picking up with a new historical tale you can finish in a few minutes.

Here is the publisher description of the book, "From Germany's invasion of Poland to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, from D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge to Iwo Jima and Bataan, the legendary battles and encounters of the Second World War have been the subjects of innumerable books. Yet, within the history of World War II, a wide range of mysterious, baffling, oddly coincidental, and inexplicable events remain. Now, critically acclaimed military historian William Breuer presents the first comprehensive book to focus on this vast, intriguing, and unexplored area. Over a period of years, Breuer collected materials from newspapers, magazines, military reports, correspondence, and interviews with the participants. His painstaking research uncovered a wealth of fascinating, at times startling, true tales: captivating cases of strange coincidences, curious happenings, and peculiar premonitions - all as vital a part of the war's history as its great campaigns, strategic designs, and high-level decisions. "

It is this part ("captivating cases of strange coincidences, curious happenings, and peculiar premonitions") which bugged me about the book. I did not find the various prominition or coincidence tales "unexplained" at all. Examples of this are Churchill deciding to switch seats in a car saving his life, Mrs. Eisenshower's predictions of her husbands greatness, a sailor who begs to go on a mission and is refused saving his life, etc. There were millions of soldiers and civilians involved in World War II. The sheer numbers indicate statistically that by chance some coincindences, near misses, correct dreams, etc. would happen.

In a response I made to a comment on my Caesar Assassination post where a reader argued that soothsayers had acurately predicted Caesar' death, "And the National Enquirer makes lots of grim predictions too. Will future historians ignore the 99% of the time that the tabloid was wrong and claim the 1% successful predictions as great prophecy? And then as historical fact? How many times did those old soothsayers make inaccurate predictions? History ignores those and highlights that one successful guess!"

Of course, Breuer ignores the stories of soldiers who made predictions and had dreams which did not happen. He ignored the many times that soldiers had preminitions, acted on them, and got hurt while had they did what they normally did would have been OK. I would think that the majority of preminitions (which were wrong) were never written down or even orally passed on.

Again, I liked this book. I stated some of my reasons already. But this sort of preminition/coincidence type of tabloid history bugs me. I wish it had been left out. There are enough unexplained World War Two stories out there to have left this sort of content out.


Ed VanVickle said...

Why would the author want to leave that out? While I have not read the book myself I am sure I will. I think that is what he was/is focusing on. That is the point of the whole book is it not? Simple because of the amount of people involved that by mere chance they were correct?
I now look forward to finding this book to read. As a newly introduced Military Historian I think it will be a great a read simply based on what you have said.

Ed VanVickle
Student Emporia State University
Military Veteran
US Army 82d Airborne
Operation Just Cause 1989
Desert Shield
Desert Storm

Miland said...

"That is the point of the whole book is it not?"

No, the majority of the book focuses on missing people and why military leaders ignored obvious intelligence which would have changed history. That is some serious and real unsolved mysteries.

Only about 20% is tabloidish and should have been left out.

Enjoy the book.

canada mystery author said...

Thanks for sharing the some serious and real unsolved mysteries on - Unexplained Mysteries of World War II .
Enjoy the reading....... :)

Robert said...

I really like your website. I've been collaborating on a timeline of the history of Wold War 2 at, on a website called Anyone is free to contribute to it and enhance it with images, videos, or commentary.

Our idea is to create an interactive historical record of anything and everything, based on specific events that combine to form timelines. We're trying to achieve a sort of user-created multimedia encyclopedia, in which no event is too big and no event is too small, and where each event can contain various types of resources, such as video, images, maps, etc. It's also a good way to direct traffic to your blog because your events will pop up along with anything else that's thematically related. We're also planning on creating an embeddable version of our timelines in the near future.

gene said...

gene lucio

I have not read the book and don't intend to for I have no reason to read it unless it was written by a ex- veteran of WW ll, my self didn't fight in this war I was about 3 years to young, but remembering listening to the radio ( no TV at that time)when news broke saying how Hitler had killed so many Jews by gassing them, very soon after the war it was shown pictures of furnace with human bones still in them that had not burned up completely, it was in the movies show the horror that the Nazis did to so many people not only Jews but other
The person who made the comment ( because of the amount of people involved that by mere chance they were correct ) I believe this person is a none believer, how do they say "seeing is believing "
I don't believe I would want to read a book that of some ones thoughts how events happened
thank you