world war ii

Review of ‘#Berlin45’

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Berlin fell to advancing Soviet forces in May 1945. In the final 20 days of Hitler’s Third Reich, key figures involved in the global struggle called World War II, were on edge, waiting for the final fall.

Philip Gibson’s #Berlin 45 is another in the Hashtag History series that gives the reader an inside view of momentous events in history through the medium of social media postings. In this volume, Gibson covers the final days of Hitler through Twitter postings that take the actual words of those immersed in the events of the day. What comes through clearly here is how Hitler, in the final days, was completely disconnected from reality, and how those around him coped with the fates that awaited them. Tweets from the Allied side, including the aftermath of FDR’s death and Harry Truman’s ascent to the presidency, are brought to life in a way that readers of the current generation can relate to.

In #Berlin 45, the reader can see how the more practical Germans tried desperately to make peace with the western Allies (American and British) to avoid falling under the Soviet sway, and the competition among the Soviet generals for pride of being the ‘first’ in Berlin.

In a short book, readers can see the horror of war and political foolishness in a way that is impossible in wordier historical accounts. Gibson brings the war to life and helps young people in the 21st century better understand a time in history that, though, many decades in our past, still impacts our lives today. I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for this review. I give this Hashtag history five stars.

Review of ‘#Tokyo45’

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What if there’d been social media during World War II? An interesting question given the pervasiveness of social media in today’s world, and one that author Philip Gibson has tried to answer in #Tokyo45, another in his Hashtag Histories; books about historical events told through social media postings. The author provided me a free review copy of #Tokyo45.

The book begins with the capture of Okinawa and, using historical materials, follows the thoughts and actions of the main protagonists in a series of Twitter feeds (tweets). Gibson gives us communications from both sides, from U.S. figures such as Henry Stimson and Harry Truman, and from Japanese such as Koichi Kido, clarifying that the two sides wouldn’t have been able to see each other’s tweets, as they would be in different systems, but showing them to the reader for continuity and better understanding of the timeline. We are, therefore, being put in the outstanding position of being an outside observer to events that would have, at the time, been shrouded in a cloak of secrecy.

Gibson takes us day by day, tweet by tweet, through the final 54 days of World War II, inserting biographical snippets of the main players as he usually does in his Hashtag History series. The result is a better understanding of the human dynamics of the decision making in this crucial period in world history than one would get from a library full of history books.

I’m giving #Tokyo45 a solid four stars.