"The Real War 1939-1945" by Paul Fussell, in The Atlantic, August 1989.
The piece is a rambling, extremely broad reflection on the disparity between general public conception of the war -- purposeful, morally organised action in which heroes died clenching their shoulders with grimaced faces -- and the reality for those who actually fought it -- dirty, disorganized ennuie and horror in which terrified men died without their faces attached to their bodies. It took me a week to get through it, but I highly recommend it even though it never resolves to any unified conclusion. It also serves as a good guide to recommended reading for a realist history of WWII:
But in a strictly literal sense the result of the years of the bombing of Berlin and its final destruction by the Russian army was, for much of the population, actual madness. Just after the surrender, according to Douglas Botting, in From the Rains of the Reich, some 50,000 orphans could be found living in holes like animals, "some of them one-eyed or one-legged veterans of seven or so, many so deranged by the bombing and the Russian attack that they screamed at the sight of any uniform, even a Salvation Army one."
And the most arresting, horrible moment of the article comes from Fussell's favorite history, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge:
But for Sledge, the worst of all was a week-long stay in rain-soaked foxholes on a muddy ridge facing the Japanese, a site strewn with decomposing corpses turning various colors, nauseating with the stench of death... "If a marine slipped and slid down the back slope of the muddy ridge, he was apt to reach the bottom vomiting. I saw more than one man lose his footing and slip and slide all the way to the bottom only to stand up horror-stricken as he watched in disbelief while fat maggots tumbled out of his muddy dungaree pockets, cartridge belt, legging lacings, and the like."
Fussell is a WWII vet who has written several books on the war; this blurb from his Wikipedia page sums up his life and the relationship between his service and his authorial career in the following somewhat quirky, romantic manner:
On November 11, he experienced his first night on the front lines. He was wounded while fighting in France as a second lieutenant in the infantry, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Fussell suffered from depression and rage for years following his military service. In his 1996 autobiography he associated those problems with the dehumanization of his military service and his anger at the way the United States government and popular culture romanticized warfare. Since the 1980s Fussell has been an outspoken critic of the glorification of armed conflicts. An early influence was H. L. Mencken, but he shed Mencken as a mentor, calling him "deficient in the tragic sense", after his wartime experience.
Adding to all the non-fiction works mentioned in Fussell's article, I think there is a fiction series which would meet his exacting standards: the extensive collection of devastatingly good stand-alone WWII stories released since 2001 in Garth Ennis' War Stories, Enemy Ace and Battlefields comic series share the same realist, moral-voidist world view, and I would recommend those basically above any other reading material in the world. War Stories volumes 1 and 2 are available in trade paperback and the first Battlefields set, including the stunning tragedy "Dear Billy" is in hardcover, but retardedly I can't find any online previews, I'll see if I can scan something onto here in an edit.