Book details how Germany came close to winning war
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Gillis Benedict) NO SALES, Associated Press
GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Steven Mercatante spent eight years researching and writing a 400-page history book about World War II because he was driven by one idea.
The World War II history buff had read some accounts of why Germany lost the war, and he knew those views weren't right.
Mercatante, a tax attorney who lives in Genoa Township, wanted to do his part to explain how Germany came very close to winning the war.
He also wanted to contribute his understanding of what happened, namely that it wasn't just brute strength on the part of the Allies — United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain — but their improved fighting ability that allowed them to defeat Germany.
"I thought I had a viable idea," the 39-year-old Mercatante said.
However, he realized few publishers would be interested in a book from an average citizen. After all, he hadn't served in the military and didn't have a doctorate in history. Another person put it more bluntly, saying, "You're not a retired general."
So Mercatante slowly began turning himself into an expert, launching a Web site about World War II, reviewing books and writing his own book. "Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe," was published last week, and it's creating some buzz.
"Written with verve, this book is a page-turner for anyone interested in how the second World War unfolded," wrote Kees Boterbloem, editor of The Historian and a history professor.
"Mercatante's arguments and conclusions are certain to be debated. They are too well-supported to be ignored," wrote Dennis E. Showalter, author, professor and former president of the American Society of Military History.
Mercatante, who grew up in Canton, said he's always loved writing and has read thousands of books, articles and documents about World War II. He also heard stories from his grandfather, who served in the World War II, his father, who served in the U.S. Army and a great-uncle who was a Korean War veteran.
He used the Michigan State University library, University of Michigan library and Brighton District Library to research his book.
He said Brighton's interlibrary loan program proved very helpful and allowed him to obtain books from top libraries across the country.
Mercatante said German leader Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union to secure key natural resources and to kill off the native population of that region. He said Hitler wanted to create a German-dominated empire and "came within a whisker of cementing a European-based empire that would have allowed the Third Reich to challenge the Anglo-American alliance for global hegemony."
"The best chance to win the war was attacking the Soviet Union because of its petroleum products," he said.
"Ironically, he came pretty close to making that work," Mercatante said.
While he's excited about the book getting published, he wished it was cheaper. There was a limited publishing of hardcovers, which sell for $58. He's hoping it will eventually be published in softcover and sold much cheaper.
While historians might enjoy the book, Mercatante acknowledged not everyone would probably enjoy it.
His wife, who helped him with the project, had a different take on the book.
"'It-puts-you-to-sleep material,'" Mercatante said was her opinion.
He's happy with how things worked out and hopes his book will make people think a little bit about what they know about the war.
"I had an idea I thought would advance what we know about the war," he said. "I did do something that adds to what we know about what is the most significant event of recent history."
Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com
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