How Robert and Krys Helped Destroy the Nazi Monster

Here’s a couple of quick reviews, part of a sparsely-populated ongoing series of reviews of self-published books.

Both books under review are short memoirs of the Second World War, published in the last few years. I recommend them for very different reasons. And although each has its faults and they both clearly would have benefitted from the attentions of professional editors, to me they embody everything that’s cool about self-publishing (about which more below).

Whales of WWII, by Robert Jagers, tells of the author’s experiences as signalman on LST 351, a “Landing Ship, Tank”, during the Second World War. Starting with his enlistment at age 19 in 1942, the book takes us through boot camp, crossing the Atlantic in a slow convoy harried by German submarines, to the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Normandy, to London during the buzz-bombs and V2 rocket attacks, until demobilization in the States.

Krystyna, A Chronicle of Life and War, by Krystyna Maria Sokolowska Post, tells the story of the author’s growing up in Poland during the pre-war years in a complicated but in many ways charming family, her coming of age on the eve of the German invasion, and what happened to her when the Nazis came. It’s an astonishing tale, well told, full of innocence, villainy, tragedy, courage, evil, fate, and, ultimately, triumph, about how a young girl whose head was filled with little more than thoughts of boys, boys, boys and American movie stars became transformed, over six harrowing years, into a soldier of the resistance–adept dressing at wounds in a field hospital during the (1944) battle of Warsaw or keeping an eye out for a pregnant comrade-in-arms in a POW camp– until her ultimate liberation by, you guessed it, a handsome American GI.

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