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[CLOSED] GIVEAWAY: Win Two Illuminating War History Books!

Enter for a chance to win two gripping books from Rowman & Littlefield.

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  • Photo Credit: Jakub Kriz / Unsplash

Editor's note: This giveaway has ended.

War is a subject of endless fascination for history buffs. And why wouldn't it be? From global conflicts to a nation ripping at the seams, wars change the course of the future. This month, we've partnered with Rowman & Littlefield to bring you two intriguing insights into wartime. From America's Civil War to World War II, there are some remarkable untold stories.

This exciting bundle includes Ritchie Boy Secrets, an account of the immigrants and refugees given special training by the U.S. Army to aid in a decisive Allied victory, and Shipwrecked, which uses the life of swashbuckler Appleton Oaksmith as a frame to explore the shifting political landscape of slave trading during the Civil War. We're giving away both books in print to 20 lucky winners!

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About the Books

ritchie boy secrets

Ritchie Boy Secrets: How a Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II

By Beverley Driver Eddy

In June 1942, the U.S. Army began recruiting immigrants, the children of immigrants, refugees, and others with language skills and knowledge of enemy lands and cultures for a special military intelligence group being trained in the mountains of northern Maryland and sent into Europe and the Pacific. Ultimately, 15,000 men and some women received this specialized training and went on to make vital contributions to victory in World War II. This is their story, which Beverley Driver Eddy tells thoroughly and colorfully, drawing heavily on interviews with surviving Ritchie Boys.

The army recruited not just those fluent in German, French, Italian, and Polish (approximately a fifth were Jewish refugees from Europe), but also Arabic, Japanese, Dutch, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, and other languages—as well as some 200 Native Americans and 200 WACs. They were trained in photo interpretation, terrain analysis, POW interrogation, counterintelligence, espionage, signal intelligence (including pigeons), mapmaking, intelligence gathering, and close combat.

Many landed in France on D-Day. Many more fanned out across Europe and around the world completing their missions, often in cooperation with the OSS and Counterintelligence Corps, sometimes on the front lines, often behind the lines. The Ritchie Boys’ intelligence proved vital during the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge. They helped craft the print and radio propaganda that wore down German homefront morale. If caught, they could have been executed as spies. After the war they translated and interrogated at the Nuremberg trials. One participated in using war criminal Klaus Barbie as an anti-communist agent. Meanwhile, Ritchie Boys in the Pacific Theater of Operations collected intelligence in Burma and China, directed bombing raids in New Guinea and the Philippines, and fought on Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

This is a different kind of World War II story, and Eddy tells it with conviction, supported by years of research and interviews.

ritchie boy secrets

Shipwrecked: A True Civil War Story of Mutinies, Jailbreaks, Blockade-Running, and the Slave Trade

By Jonathan W. White

From the New York Times: "The astonishing stories in Shipwrecked...[offer] a fresh perspective on the mess of pitched emotions and politics in a nation at war over slavery."

Historian Jonathan W. White tells the riveting story of Appleton Oaksmith, a swashbuckling sea captain whose life intersected with some of the most important moments, movements, and individuals of the mid-19th century, from the California Gold Rush, filibustering schemes in Nicaragua, Cuban liberation, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. Most importantly, the book depicts the extraordinary lengths the Lincoln Administration went to destroy the illegal trans-Atlantic slave trade. Using Oaksmith’s case as a lens, White takes readers into the murky underworld of New York City, where federal marshals plied the docks in lower Manhattan in search of evidence of slave trading. Once they suspected Oaksmith, federal authorities had him arrested and convicted, but in 1862 he escaped from jail and became a Confederate blockade-runner in Havana. The Lincoln Administration tried to have him kidnapped in violation of international law, but the attempt was foiled. 

Always claiming innocence, Oaksmith spent the next decade in exile until he received a presidential pardon from U.S. Grant, at which point he moved to North Carolina and became an anti-Klan politician. Through a remarkable, fast-paced story, this book will give readers a new perspective on slavery and shifting political alliances during the turbulent Civil War Era.


For full details, see official rules.  

Note: The sweepstakes is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. who are 18 years of age and older by September 8th, 2023.

Feature image: Jakub Kriz / Unsplash