Saturday, July 27, 2013

Book Review: Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 312

From years of research and hundreds of interviews, Stephen Ambrose pulls together the story of one of the most famous (and respected) rifle companies the world has ever known, the Screaming Eagles of E Company, 101st Airborne Division.

They came together, citizen soldiers, in 1942, drawn by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be the best. They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. The ones who survived the rigorous training in Georgia went on to fight the fiercest European battles of WWII—Normandy on D-day, Holland during the Arnhem campaign, holding Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge,  spearheading the final counteroffensive, and finally capturing Hitler’s Bavarian outpost, the Eagle’s Nest. Combat taught them selflessness, and they discovered that in battle, men who loved life would give their lives for them. It during those times under fire, that found the closest brotherhood they would ever know.

This is a story of men who fought, of the martinet they hated but who trained them to be the best, and of the captain they loved. E Company went hungry, they froze, and they died for each other. They took 150 percent casualties. The Purple Heart was not a medal to the men of Easy Company, it was a badge of office.

I became interested in Easy Company’s story because of the HBO miniseries by the same name. I found the miniseries fascinating and inspiring, and I wanted more information about the men and the battles they fought. This wonderful book is the perfect companion to the miniseries, in that it delves into the details.  The miniseries focuses more on individual men in the company, where the book fills in the missing data about the battles.

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