Cover Image: Why We Fought

Why We Fought

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Member Reviews

Inspiring true stories of brave men and women who risked their lives and mental health to fight for freedom. Most of the stories I hadn't heard before, but they deserve to be known and remembered. Each of the well written and interesting short stories is a separate chapter, perfect for when you don't have much time to read. 

The chapters are:
1. Virginia Hall: "We Must Find and Destroy Her" 
2. William Sebold and Sabotage in America 
3. Marlene Dietrich: Hollywood Actor Spies on the Nazis 
4. Juan Pujol: The Allies' Most Successful Double Agent 
5. Carl Lutz Saves 72,000 Jewish Lives
6. The Ghost Army
7. The Battle for Castle Itter

Content warning: some violence including torture mentioned.
Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC to use for my review.
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Why We Fought by Jerry Borrowman, 208 pages. NONFICTION. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2021. $20.
Language: PG (3 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG
World War II was devastating to families and countries, and it would have been worse if not for those individuals and groups whose stories are finally being told here. Risking their lives to help Jews flee and to help the Allies fight against the Nazis, these heroes knew to fight for what they believed was right even when it wasn’t easy.
Borrowman organizes this book into seven sections, and each true story pierces the heart of readers and will encourage them to act in a way that fights for good. None of the heroes talked about in this book went about doing good in the same way; likewise, readers can find their own unique ways of being heroes. Some of the accounts and facts can get dry, but the inspiring stories are worth it.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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My Rating: 5 Stars


Indomitable amputee. Actress. Factory worker. Idealist. The the people that helped defend justice and humanity during World War II came from varied backgrounds and with varied skill sets. However, when freedom was on the line, each dug deep and found ways they could help fight against Nazi Germany and its allies. Each made incredible sacrifices--and for many, those sacrifices affected their daily life for the remainder of their lives, even after the war was won. In honoring these real, flesh-and-blood people, their stories need to be told, their courage and selflessness must never be forgotten.


I really enjoyed this book. I usually really enjoy a good WWII story to begin with, but I find it particularly exciting that these stories are real. They really happened, and it is humbling to realize that their incredible courage--which often placed them right in front of death itself--was real too. To think a human being can be so courageous, so self-sacrificing for the good of others is awe-inspiring. It makes me want to be a better person. 

There are some descriptions of the horrors of war, which is a terrible but real hallmark of WWII. However, Borrowman used these descriptions to help the reader comprehend what the 'good guys' were up against: heinous villains with their seemingly unending resources of intelligence and evil. It makes these stories all the more inspiring. At times, however, it was comical to read how the simplest of things made the Nazis stumble, which is also inspiring in realizing that the villain is not infallible. 

I recommend this book for middle school-aged readers and older.  Each individual who reads it will find an intriguing read and personal inspiration. 

Content Guide:

Sex & Affection--An actress dresses up in an attractive costume to perform for deployed soldiers.
Drugs, Alcohol, & Substance Use--Some instances of smoking and alcohol consumption. A man is known for going into a drunken rage.
Violence & Crime--A description of prisoner treatment in Nazi concentration camps. Torture, lynching, looting, and war violence described in general terms. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.
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Books like this ought to be required reading.  Though some humans are capable of unspeakably horrendous acts, others sacrifice their own safety and lives to protect those who cannot.  Borrowman describes seven real life heroes and heroines during WWII, some known, others unknown, their histories and courageous contributions.  Some of these people fought in spite of physical injuries; they rose above their circumstances which makes them more determined, more ambitious.  We learn more from hard times than easy ones.  And times during WWII were brutal.  What we do know from this time is mind blowing...imagine what we don't know!

Victoria Hall was a resistance leader, working tirelessly for both Britain and America.  Her leadership was extraordinary, especially in a male-dominated world, AND with an injury.  Her job was often very physical and painful but she did her utmost to oppose the Nazis.  She was trained in spying, espionage and sabotage, Morse Code, weapons and so on.  A gynecologist detested the Nazis so much he certified prostitutes as disease free when they weren't, infecting soldiers.  The ending of the story is remarkable.

As the author says, war is about artifice.  Juan Pujol's spy network is fascinating to read about.  The Major Martin story is fantastic!  Such cleverness!  But my favourite is Carl Lutz who devised a scheme which saved the lives of 72,000 innocent Jews in Hungary.  He was in constant danger and had many close calls but he did it anyway, regardless of the cost.  What an honour it would have been to meet him and others like him!

If you are intrigued by WWII, do read this important book.  It is bound to fascinate and inspire.

My sincere thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for the honour of reading this outstanding book.
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I have always been touched by the kind, compassionate people who performed heroic feats during World War II. This collection of stories featured many individuals and groups that were previously unknown to me. Their stories were well researched, and I appreciated that the sections were not too long and could be read in one sitting. I especially loved the section about the Ghost Army! I thought it was fascinating that they were so good at creating  fake, believable troops. 

My only complaint is that the stories leaned a little on the factual side. The title, Why We Fought, implies a more personal and emotional side of the stories. The actual book didn't get into the motivations or emotions of many of the men and women. These individuals and groups saved lives with their amazing, heroic actions - it would have been even more interesting to know more them, deeper than just the facts. 

Despite this, it was a very captivating book! I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in WWII.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing, NetGalley, and the author for a chance to read this book in exchange for my honest opinions.
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As someone who devours historical novels set in World War II, I enjoyed learning real new stories from WWII that I previously hadn't known about--such as the networks of Nazi spies in American and how William Sebold (a naturalized German American) played the Nazis by successfully feeding misinformation to his own and other networks, and eventually leading to the capture of a majority of the Nazi spy rings in the United States. I also loved the story of Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz, who, through use of his diplomatic connections, and against his own country's wishes, saved approximately 72,000 Hungarian Jews in Budapest. I think my favorite of all was that of the Ghost Army, a select group of actors, sound engineers, set designers, and other creative folks (about 1,100 people in total) whose role was to make it appear that up to two battalions (about 30,000 troops) were stationed somewhere and poised to strike, when in fact there was nothing there at all--this was used to deceive the Nazis and helped save countless lives and create strategic advantages that led to an eventual Allied victory.

I guess where I have some difficulty is how pro-Israeli occupation of Palestine some of Borrowman's narrative--which is a very difficult line to walk given the current state of affairs. 

All in all, any history buffs who want to learn some alternative, less well know stories from WWII will enjoy this quick read!
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This book read more like a history book than a novel- that being said I did enjoy it. Each chapter is a new short story the first few were ok, but once you get to chapters 4, 5 and 6 they really get good. Some of those I had to go and research a bit after reading- I’ve never heard of some of those stories. It would be awesome if someone would make a movie out of these.  
It was inspiring to read about how normal, everyday people helped to fight the war in such brave and creative ways. 
I do wish there had been some clarification on some of the military terminology (titles and such).
This book made me grateful for all the sacrifices people made for the freedoms we all enjoy.
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In Why We Fought Jerry Borrowman collects seven stories of mostly non-combatant heroism during World War II. These stories feature spies, a movie star and USO performer who raised money for war bonds, a diplomat whose courage is credited with saving over 70,000 Jewish lives, captured French government officials, and two whole Army divisions made up of “ghosts”. 

This is a relatively short book at 208 pages. Each of it's stories is self-contained and pretty well told. One minor criticism is that some of the stories are broken up by bios of the players involved. These bios are set off with bolded subtitles and tend to be overly long, with information not necessarily germane to the story at hand. I couldn’t figure out if Borrowman was padding each story or trying to keep it short by doing this. For me, these blocks of text interrupted the flow, and my enjoyment of the book. 

Yet I did enjoy reading this book. It made for some relatively light reading on a couple of summer afternoons. It’s not a profound read, and I don’t think that’s the author’s intent. I think the primary audience for this book would be teenage readers who are just learning about the history of World War II and are interested in some inspirational or “human interest” stories. 

As an aside - I often wonder why books are subtitled as they are because. For many of the books that I’ve read, the subtitles don’t actually explain or describe the content of the book. In this case the subtitle “Inspiring Stories of Resisting Hitler and Defending Freedom” is spot on. It’s the title that seems a bit off. Borrowman does a great job taking us through the seven tales he tells, but he doesn’t delve too deeply into why the people involved did what they did, and he doesn’t try to find any commonality or overriding reason why they fought, nor relate it to a “We” that is not defined anywhere in the book.
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I really wanted to like this, but I struggled getting into it. The writing style was not for me, it read more like an essay from history class. I really enjoy WWII stories, but this felt too history textbook to me instead of stories. These stories were heroic but I wish I was not so bored reading it.
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I really wanted to like this, but I struggled getting into it. The writing style was not for me, it read more like an essay. 
This book was about people who did awesome things to help fight in WWII. That is why I was excited to read it and the stories that I read were interesting but I still found them too hard to get into because of the writing. If you enjoy learning about WWII and everyday heroes this book is for you!
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This was an interesting set of vignettes on various people who participated in WWII. It felt like most of it was just summaries and overviews of previously written books with little research done by the author himself. It read as a good introduction to some of these topics for middle grades.
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I first saw this book just after binge watching Band of Brothers for the 5th or 6th time since it came out. I knew immediately this book would be perfect follow up reading. Why We Fought gathers seven stories of people who went above and beyond to assist the Allies during WWII. 

Most of the people I had never heard of before. Their stories are so interesting and definitely heroic. One story I had definitely heard before -- Marlene Dietrich. Borrowman definitely did in-depth research on all seven. The stories are detailed, informative and amazing!

This is the first book by Jerry Borrowman that I've read. He's written several military history books and even one about Hoover Dam. I'm definitely reading more of his books. I like his writing style. Sometimes history gets bogged down in facts and gets to be like reading a textbook. Borrowman keeps the topic interesting while still be incredibly informative. 

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Shadow Mountain Publishing. All opinions expressed are entirely my own**
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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel.   This was an excellent non-fiction book about WWII and the motivations behind people joining the fight.   I liked chapters 1 and 3 best.   The author did an excellent job researching facts.   It would have been easy to make this read like a textbook but not the case.   Great facts presented in a narrative style.
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Why We  Fought follows the story of women who fought for the Allies during WWII. The book follows several outstanding women who played a part in the fight against the Axis countries. 

I found this book incredibly compelling. I learned more about names I was familiar with such as Marlene Dietrich and others I was unfamiliar with. I'm extremely content with this book. I feel it represents an emerging niche of historical work honouring the place of women and nonbinary people during historical periods where they were previously overlooked. 

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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nonfiction, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, history-and-culture, Europe, Spain, Hungary, 20th-century, bravery, false-information, fake-troops, double-agent, human-rights, diplomat*****

Virginia Hall is the first person detailed and a determined woman who worked tirelessly for the British and American intelligence communities and the French Resistance fighters.
William Sebold became a double agent and, while very successful, sacrificed his health and sanity in the cause of defeating Hitler.
Marlene Dietrich was a surprise to me. The extravagant actress did a lot more than entertain the troops and was honored by both the US and England after the war.
Carl Lutz was a swiss diplomat in Hungary who secreted Jews and others scheduled for extinction in Hungary regardless of orders from his own country.
Ghost Army and other fantasies were perpetrated but a man who appeared to be a double agent but was really blowing smoke at the German high command. This Spaniard's name was Juan Pujol.
The last chapter contains even more people and heroes. Some of the information is new to me, but not that of Virginia Hall. The writing style is engaging and kept me riveted all afternoon.
Never forget. Never again.
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you
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Why We Fought by Jerry Borrowman is an excellent nonfiction that is a collection of short stories, biographies, and true stories of real people that helped turn the tide and helped the Allies triumph WWII.

This is such a great collection of stories. Nothing is too long or too detailed, yet they are not too short or glossed over. The author has collected a nice array of true stories of real people that were true heroes in their own right that helped do their part in the war. We find that it doesn’t matter where they came from, who they were, or what their “humble” or not so humble beginnings might have been, each felt within themselves the greater good and the need to do something about it. 

I loved the wonderful spectrum of individuals selected, some I had heard of, but most I had not. Appropriate not only for historians, but also the average enthusiast as well. 

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Marlene Dietrich. 

This book really left me grateful and inspired. 

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
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