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Captured by History is an autobiography like none other, for few historians have interviewed as many men and women who helped shape the most momentous events of our century than John Toland. Here, for the first time, Toland reveals how he found these key players and how he persuaded them to talk to him. From disgraced Japanese generals to the German doctor who nearly succeeded in assassinating Hitler, Toland's sources are remarkable for what they reveal about their subjects, along with the secrets and stories they would tell no one else.
Toland's unorthodox approach to history came from his early desire to be a playwright. Even before graduating from Williams College during the depths of the Depression, Toland spent his summers hitchhiking and riding the rails as a hobo. He lived and worked with other bindle stiffs, learning their lingo and ways. He served five short jail sentences for riding freights and trespassing. His experiences and the characters he met encouraged Toland to write plays and early novels (unsuccessfully) until 1957, when he published his first book, Ships in the Sky.
His work in the next four decades was nothing short of extraordinary, for Toland found that he saw history as a play, with narrative structure and drama, not as a dry series of dates and names. The result was a series of landmark works such as Infamy;The Rising Sun, which won him the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1970 and reflected his ability, with the help of his Japanese wife, to open doors normally closed to Westerners in Japan; In Mortal Combat;The Last 100 Days; and his best-selling biography of Adolf Hitler.
Captured by History is not only the summation of a lifetime of groundbreaking works, but the story of a man who through his historical investigations became a witness to many of the most catastrophic events of the twentieth century. A self-effacing man in person, Toland nonetheless comes across as having had a life as fascinating as the lives of the many historical figures he has interviewed. Written by one of our last witnesses to the terrible and deracinating conflicts that split the world asunder at mid-century, Captured by History is an astonishing personal story of a hugely inquisitive man who became a historian not by accident or design, but by fate; a man who succeeded in chronicling the most tumultuous events of our century.
- By: John Toland ,
- Narrated by: Ralph Cosham ,
- Length: 44 hrs and 42 mins
- , Unabridged
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Based on previously unpublished documents, diaries, notes, photographs, and dramatic interviews with Hitler's colleagues and associates....
- 5 out of 5 stars
Absolutely fascinating, in depth and jarring.
- By Chris Henson on 10-09-14
John Toland, 91, Author Of Best-Selling History Books
John Toland, a best-selling historian whose book ''The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945'' won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, died on Sunday at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. He was 91 and lived in Danbury.
The cause was pneumonia, said his daughter Tamiko Toland.
Reviewing ''The Rising Sun'' (Random House) for The New York Times, Walter Clemons called it a ''big, absorbing and finally very moving history of the Pacific war, told primarily from the Japanese viewpoint.''
In research for his books, Mr. Toland typically sought to do as many interviews as possible, sometimes hundreds. For ''Rising Sun'' his subjects ranged from Japanese generals and admirals to housewives who had survived the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. This technique served him well in perhaps the most popular of his histories, ''Adolf Hitler'' (Doubleday, 1976), an anecdotal portrait that several reviewers called the most comprehensive biography of Hitler up until that time.
He entered a long-running historical debate about the Roosevelt administration's culpability at the start of the Pacific war with '' ''Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath'' (Doubleday, 1982). In a shift from his conclusions in ''The Rising Sun, '' Mr. Toland said he had turned up evidence to conclude that Roosevelt had known in advance of Japan's impending attack but failed to inform the naval command in the Pacific in the hope of rousing America from its isolationism. This view put him at odds with a series of official federal investigations and historians who said Roosevelt may have made errors in judgment but neither knew about nor encouraged the attack.
John Willard Toland was born June 29, 1912, in La Crosse, Wis. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Williams College, getting his B.A. in 1936, and set out to become a playwright, attending the Yale University School of Drama in 1936-37. From 1942 to 1949, he served as a captain in Special Services in the Army Air Force, stationed in the United States. During the war, he married Dorothy Peaslack, a dancer. They had two children, Diana Netzer, of Basalt, Colo., and Marcia Toland, who lives in Oman. The marriage ended in divorce.
In 1960, while doing research in Japan, he married Toshiko Matsumura. She and their daughter, Tamiko, of Ithaca, N.Y., also survive him, as do three grandchildren.
By the mid-1950's, he had written many plays, novels and short stories, but remained unpublished. Encouraged by a friend, he turned to nonfiction and began to sell articles to magazines. His agent got him a contract to write a book on dirigibles, ''Ships in the Sky'' (1957), and he followed with a dozen books for adults and young people, specializing in World War II. A memoir, ''Captured by History,'' was published in 1997.
Books by John Toland
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John Toland (historian)
American writer and historian
For other people named John Toland, see John Toland (disambiguation).
John Willard Toland (June 29, 1912 – January 4, 2004) was an American writer and historian. He is best known for a biography of Adolf Hitler and a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II-era Japan, The Rising Sun.
Toland was born in 1912 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He graduated from Williams College and attended the Yale School of Drama for a time. His original goal was to become a playwright. In the summers between college years, he traveled with hobos and wrote several plays with hobos as central characters, none of which were performed. He recalled in 1961 that in his early years as a writer he had been "about as big a failure as a man can be". He claimed to have written six complete novels, 26 plays, and a hundred short stories before completing his first sale, a short story for which The American Magazine paid $165 in 1954. At one point he managed to get an article on dirigibles into LOOK magazine; it proved extremely popular and led to his career as a historian. Dirigibles were the subject of his first full-length published book, Ships in the Sky (1957).
His most important work may be The Rising Sun (Random House, 1970), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1971. Based on original and extensive interviews with high-ranking Japanese officials who survived the war, the book chronicles the Empire of Japan from the military rebellion of February 1936 to the end of World War II. It won the Pulitzer because it was the first book in English to tell the history of the Pacific War from the Japanese point of view, rather than the prevailing American one.
While predominantly a writer of nonfiction, Toland also published two historical novels, Gods of War and Occupation. He says in his 1997 autobiography that he earned little money from his prize-winner The Rising Sun but was set for life from the earnings of Adolf Hitler, for which he also did original research.
Toland died of pneumonia on January 4, 2004, at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut.
- Ships in the Sky: The Story of the Great Dirigibles (New York: Henry Holt; London: F. Muller, 1957)
- Battle: The Story of the Bulge, 1959, ISBN 0-8032-9437-9.
- But Not in Shame: The Six Months After Pearl Harbor, 1962, ISBN 0-345-25748-0
- The Dillinger Days, 1963, ISBN 0-306-80626-6.
- The Flying Tigers - Copyrighted 1963 First Printing From Laurel-Leaf Books 1979. Published by Dell Publishing ISBN 0-440-92621-1
- The Last 100 Days: The Tumultuous and Controversial Story of the Final Days of World War II in Europe, 1966, reprint (2003) ISBN 0-8129-6859-X
- The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, 1970 HC ISBN 0-394-44311-X, reprint ISBN 0-8129-6858-1.
- The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs & Disasters, 1972, ISBN 0-486-21397-8.
- Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, 1976, ISBN 0-385-42053-6.
- No Man's Land: 1918, The Last Year of the Great War, 1980, ISBN 0-385-11291-2
- Infamy: Pearl Harbor And Its Aftermath, 1982, ISBN 0-385-42051-X
- Gods of War, 1985, ISBN 0-385-18007-1.
- Occupation, 1987, ISBN 0-385-19819-1
- In Mortal Combat: Korea 1950-1953, 1991, ISBN 0-688-10079-1
- Captured by History: One Man's Vision of Our Tumultuous Century, 1997, ISBN 0-312-15490-9
- 'Death of a Dirigible', February 1959, American Heritage, Volume X Number 2, pp 18–23
His big prick touched my throat when a member filled my mouth. Sucking and plunging it into myself, I slid my hand over it, feeling its power and greatness. The penis was so hard that sometimes it seemed that it was such a warm stone, covered with a thin soft. Skin. I want it, I want it - the thought in my head was beating, and fearing that it would now splash out the.
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