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Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

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As good a rifle company as any, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, US Army, kept getting tough assignments--responsible for everything from parachuting into France early DDay morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. In "Band of Brothers," Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze & died, a company that took 150% As good a rifle company as any, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, US Army, kept getting tough assignments--responsible for everything from parachuting into France early DDay morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. In "Band of Brothers," Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze & died, a company that took 150% casualties & considered the Purple Heart a badge of office. Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers' journals & letters, Stephen Ambrose recounts the stories, often in the men's own words, of these American heroes. Foreword "We wanted those wings"; Camp Toccoa, 7-12/42 "Stand up & hook up"; Benning, Mackall, Bragg, Shanks, 12/42-9/43 "Duties of the latrine orderly"; Aldbourne, 9/43-3/44 "Look out, Hitler! Here we come!"; Slapton Sands, Uppottery, 4/1-6/5/44 "Follow me"; Normandy, 6/6/44 "Move out!"; Carentan, 6/7-7/12/44 Healing wounds & scrubbed missions; Aldbourne, 7/13-9/16/44 "Hell's highway"; Holland, 9/17-10/1/44 Island; Holland, 10/2-11/25/44 Resting, recovering & refitting: Mourmelon-le-Grand, 11/26-12/18/44 "They got us surrounded-the poor bastards"; Bastogne, 12/19-31/44 Breaking point; Bastogne, 1/1-13/45 Attack; Noville, 1/14-17/45 Patrol: Haguenau, 1/18-2/23/45 "Best feeling in the world": Mourmelon, 2/25-4/2/45 Getting to know the enemy: Germany, 4/2-30/45 Drinking Hitler's champagne; Berchtesgaden, 5/1-8/45 Soldier's dream life; Austria, 5/8-7/31/45 Postwar careers; 1945-91 Acknowledgments & Sources Index


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As good a rifle company as any, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, US Army, kept getting tough assignments--responsible for everything from parachuting into France early DDay morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. In "Band of Brothers," Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze & died, a company that took 150% As good a rifle company as any, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, US Army, kept getting tough assignments--responsible for everything from parachuting into France early DDay morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. In "Band of Brothers," Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze & died, a company that took 150% casualties & considered the Purple Heart a badge of office. Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers' journals & letters, Stephen Ambrose recounts the stories, often in the men's own words, of these American heroes. Foreword "We wanted those wings"; Camp Toccoa, 7-12/42 "Stand up & hook up"; Benning, Mackall, Bragg, Shanks, 12/42-9/43 "Duties of the latrine orderly"; Aldbourne, 9/43-3/44 "Look out, Hitler! Here we come!"; Slapton Sands, Uppottery, 4/1-6/5/44 "Follow me"; Normandy, 6/6/44 "Move out!"; Carentan, 6/7-7/12/44 Healing wounds & scrubbed missions; Aldbourne, 7/13-9/16/44 "Hell's highway"; Holland, 9/17-10/1/44 Island; Holland, 10/2-11/25/44 Resting, recovering & refitting: Mourmelon-le-Grand, 11/26-12/18/44 "They got us surrounded-the poor bastards"; Bastogne, 12/19-31/44 Breaking point; Bastogne, 1/1-13/45 Attack; Noville, 1/14-17/45 Patrol: Haguenau, 1/18-2/23/45 "Best feeling in the world": Mourmelon, 2/25-4/2/45 Getting to know the enemy: Germany, 4/2-30/45 Drinking Hitler's champagne; Berchtesgaden, 5/1-8/45 Soldier's dream life; Austria, 5/8-7/31/45 Postwar careers; 1945-91 Acknowledgments & Sources Index

30 review for Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…” - William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3 As a history lover, and as someone who loves not getting flamed on Goodreads, I am loathe to say what I am about to say. However, as someone who finds it impossible not to say what I feel like saying, I’ll just go ahead and say it: I don’t like Stephen Ambrose. Not like that, I hasten to add. I didn’t know him personally, but in interviews he seemed like a nice man, congenial and friend “For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…” - William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3 As a history lover, and as someone who loves not getting flamed on Goodreads, I am loathe to say what I am about to say. However, as someone who finds it impossible not to say what I feel like saying, I’ll just go ahead and say it: I don’t like Stephen Ambrose. Not like that, I hasten to add. I didn’t know him personally, but in interviews he seemed like a nice man, congenial and friendly, who often charmingly mentioned his family in his books. Moreover, Ambrose did history itself an incredible service by collecting the stories of ordinary men. The living memory of World War II is fading fast, and it is due to the efforts of historians, biographers, and researchers like Stephen Ambrose that we will have so many incredible stories, even after that generation has passed into memory. But here’s the thing: I think he’s a crap writer. I’ve tried very hard in the past to enjoy Ambrose books. When I read the flaccid Pegasus Bridge – my first experience – I told myself that I was at fault, not the great Ambrose. Then, I read Crazy Horse and Custer and noticed that entire pages were copied almost verbatim from Royal Hassrick’s The Sioux. Still, I gave him a pass, knowing that sometimes writers make mistakes when it comes to citing sources. But the accusations of plagiarism kept cropping up, along with the Eisenhower Presidential Library accusing him of fabricating interviews with Ike. It occurred to me that – despite Ambrose’s pervasive popularity as the Godfather of Dad Books – my inclinations were correct. There are plenty of good author/historians in the world, free of taint, and I decided that I should avoid Ambrose in the future. Time is short, after all, and the library is large. But I got pulled back in. It’s the fault of HBO, truly and absolutely. The Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg-produced Band of Brothers miniseries happens to be one of the greatest things to ever appear on a screen. This is not hyperbole, by the way, but an objective fact written in the stars. When it first came out, I ordered HBO simply to watch it. I bought the DVD the first day it was available, and watched it start to finish again. Even though I owned the DVD, I watched in on the History Channel, every (edited) episode. When it came out on Spike TV (back when Spike TV existed), I sat through it again, through the interminable commercials of basic cable. I spent one enjoyable Thanksgiving watching it on the couch, a sated smile on my face. In college, I devoted a second date to watching an episode in my dorm room (there was no third date, but who needed dates when I had Ron Livingston and Donnie Wahlberg saving the world). When Band of Brothers was released as a Blu-Ray set, I bought that too, and watched it yet again, reveling in the high-definition clarity that – unfortunately – really demonstrated the fakeness of the Bastogne sets. In short, I spent a not-insignificant portion of my pre-marriage, pre-kids life watching Band of Brothers. Finally, after the 20th viewing, as an inevitability, I decided to read the source material: Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. It had become an obligation. Band of Brothers is a grunt’s eye view of history. War as it was seen by the men who fought it. It stands on a continuum of anecdotal works by such luminaries as Walter Lord (Day of Infamy; Incredible Victory) and Cornelius Ryan (The Longest Day; A Bridge Too Far) who used a pastiche of eyewitness accounts to present the intimate side of a massive, impersonal war. Ambrose attempts to replicate, on a smaller scale, the feats of Lord and Ryan. In Easy Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne, he has an incredible subject: an elite group of soldiers who – like the mythical platoon of Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One – find themselves in just about every important operation in the European Theater, from D-Day to VE-Day. The problem, though, is that Ambrose is no Walter Lord, and he’s no Cornelius Ryan. He’s barely serviceable. His prose is blunt, ugly, and disjointed. There is tortured grammar and a noticeable lack of editing. There is not a smidgeon of grace or elegance to be found. Ambrose’s shortcomings as a writer are put in stark relief whenever he quotes from the writings of David Webster, a Harvard-educated English major who was part of Easy Company. Webster, unlike Ambrose, writes in vivid prose that is alive with acute perception. Most of the enjoyment I received from reading Band of Brothers came from the fact that I’d seen the miniseries (more times than is healthy, probably) and was interested to compare and contrast the various characters. When I tried to imagine being a reader who hadn’t seen the miniseries, I found it hard to understand the universal acclaim. First, there is absolutely no tension or drama in the story. Instead of taking oral histories and spinning them into a narrative, Ambrose elects to directly quote the men he has interviewed. Now, I’m sure this saved him a great deal of time when it came to actually writing, but it tells you right away who lives, and to a lesser extent, who dies. If you like vividness, the sensation of being there – look elsewhere. This is the cutting and pasting of transcribed interviews. Ambrose’s style also feeds into a participant’s bias, in that the men who talked to Ambrose are lifted to the heights of Achilles or Hector, while those who did not participate, or who died, recede – for the most part – into the background. This is not history as it happened, but history as told by some limited viewpoints. (And this limited viewpoint is why Ambrose is criticized so often – by other veterans – for utterly screwing up the facts. He only listens to one side and seldom takes the time to corroborate). Another problem I had was Ambrose’s lack of objectivity when it comes to his subjects. And by lack of objectivity, I mean abject hero-worship. Here, once again, lest I be digitally mobbed, I wish to interject that yes, the men of Easy Company were heroic. They were young men who sacrificed their youths to do a dangerous job that their country asked them to do. There is a place for a flag-waving, chest-thumping, drum-beating homage to “the greatest generation.” Indeed, God created Tom Brokaw for just this purpose. However, it’s not a historian’s place to wave the flag or thump his chest or beat his drum. And Ambrose has always claimed to be a historian. In Band of Brothers, he is not. Instead, he’s more like a cheerleader, or a proud father, or a guy who secretly feels guilty that he never joined the army and fought a war. He is hyperbolic in his descriptions of Easy Company’s exploits, he is quick to take sides and defend his interview subjects at the expense of men who weren’t interviewed, and he gives a wink-wink nudge-nudge to myriad war crimes committed by those soldiers, including numerous executions of P.O.W.s, the murder of an alleged SS officer after the war was over, and enough looting and pillaging to make Genghis Khan envious. (These are war crimes, aren’t they? Or am I being obtuse? I mean, if the Germans had done this to us – killed our prisoners, as they did at Malmedy, or looted homes and businesses, as they did all over Europe, wouldn’t we consider them crimes? Didn’t we? Did we not try and execute or imprison Germans for these very things? The answer to those rhetorical questions – to be clear – is yes). Ambrose’s blinders leads him to continually make silly and unsupportable statements about how “citizen soldiers” and “democratic soldiers” were eminently superior to the Nazis forces of totalitarianism and darkness. This is a sweeping, simplistic, reductive, and jingoistic statement that is better placed on a 1940s war bonds poster. It’s also patently untrue. Far from being an inferior fighting force, the German armies were far better, man-for-man, than any other army in the world. By 1944, when Easy Company finally got in the war, the Wehrmacht had been fighting for five years. They’d destroyed Poland and France, nearly crushed England, and pushed Russia to the brink. After all those years and all those casualties, they still managed to scrape together one hell of a defense after Normandy. By the way, I hate the Nazis and everything they stood for. I’m just saying they could rumble. Ambrose’s failure is in using an exception to prove a rule. On the whole, the American armies in North Africa, Italy, and Europe didn’t perform especially well. This isn’t some kind of indictment on our fighting men, only a reality that comes from a mass draft, a hurried mobilization, and an army of citizens, not soldiers. Easy Company was an exception. They were an elite group. They were volunteers. They were well trained (again, so well trained that they didn’t actually get into the war till 1944; meanwhile, their fellow Americans invaded North Africa and Guadalcanal in 1942). The men of Easy Company were fit, mobile, ambitious, motivated, well-armed, strongly conditioned killers. They deserve their accolades. They are not, however, representative. The consequence of Ambrose’s tight focus on Easy Company, and his ill-conceived extrapolation of their experience, makes Band of Brothers into something rare: a pro-war book. This is the anti-All Quiet on the Western Front. Rather than ruining lives and shattering psyches, Ambrose presents a portrait of war as a great adventure, and men who only became fully actualized by combat. It’s almost an advertisement: Go to War; Make Great Friends; See the World and Steal Some Nazi Silverware! To bolster this fact, Ambrose’s afterward stresses how many of Easy Company’s men became rich! That is what I took from Ambrose’s writing. Of course, that’s not the reality. Thanks to the miniseries and the accompanying documentary, you can actually listen to these men talk about their experiences. They don’t sound like the soldiers Ambrose presents in his book. They are somber and reflective. Their eyes glisten and their voices crack and waver. They hint at reservoirs of jumbled memories that combine the fear of battle and the horror of death and the pain of lost friends with the love of their brothers. To see and hear them is an experience far more touching and real than the pastiche of direct quotations and patriotic slogans that Ambrose stitched together for his book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tina Haigler

    "THE MEN OF EASY COMPANY, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, came from different backgrounds, different parts of the country." First off, let me just say that words cannot express my gratitude for the sacrifice that these soldiers made, in this case, not for their country, but for the world. Ok. So I've put this off for quite a while. Reading this book was intense. To put it simply, this book stirs up too many emotions. I have a lump in my throat as I sit writin "THE MEN OF EASY COMPANY, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, came from different backgrounds, different parts of the country." First off, let me just say that words cannot express my gratitude for the sacrifice that these soldiers made, in this case, not for their country, but for the world. Ok. So I've put this off for quite a while. Reading this book was intense. To put it simply, this book stirs up too many emotions. I have a lump in my throat as I sit writing this. What these men endured, what they sacrificed, and their bravery in the face of all the death that surrounded them, are things no one who has never been to war can even comprehend. Their courage alone leaves me breathless. I came to love most of these men, and to despise others. I hurt when people died, or got bad news, or were punished. I rejoiced for them, and I cried for them. However, I think my most prevalent emotions throughout this experience have been awe, respect, and pride. These men left home, went through absolute hell, fought, killed, and a lot of them died for us. It breaks my heart that it happened at all, and my heart swells with a gratefulness that is impossible to put into words. After reading this book, I feel like I know these men. I think about them every day, and I mourn, knowing that they are no longer with us. I think some people don't like this book because of the way the author chose to put the soldiers' stories together. I have to admit that the book isn't written in a very pleasing style, so if you go in to read this book thinking it's going to be a flowing narrative, then you are mistaken. This book is written more like a bunch of short essays from many viewpoints, that together, makes a whole. It was like being dropped among the soldiers, serving as witness for a few brief moments, and then being whisked away to another location, just to do it all over again. These men's stories are worth reading, no matter how it's written, put together, or who it's by. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, especially those who like WWII, soldiers, short stories, or honorable men willing to sacrifice it all. We can never thank them enough. "'No,' I answered, 'but I served in a company of heroes.'"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Little good comes from war, however it does tend to create heros and leaders and show people how to love and depend upon their comrades. The bonds built upon the catastrophic ruin that was World War II is the basis of Stephen E. Ambrose's Band of Brothers. After watching the television miniseries a couple times through and really enjoying it for its humanity, I thought it was time I gave the book a go. There isn't much difference between the two. The timeline and events depicted in the series sta Little good comes from war, however it does tend to create heros and leaders and show people how to love and depend upon their comrades. The bonds built upon the catastrophic ruin that was World War II is the basis of Stephen E. Ambrose's Band of Brothers. After watching the television miniseries a couple times through and really enjoying it for its humanity, I thought it was time I gave the book a go. There isn't much difference between the two. The timeline and events depicted in the series stay fairly true to the book, showing the birth of the legendary Easy Company as it goes through basic training, enters the war and fights through an almost endless array of seemingly impossible missions until the European theater came to a close. Where the book and show differed was in the amount of detail and backstory that the book provided over the show. It's not a lot of extra detail - the stories of a few soldiers that had to be passed over for brevity's sake, as well as further personal details of the soldiers mainly focused upon - but if you're a big fan of the show, you're a candidate to read Band of Brothers, an admirably penned work that squeezes what good it can out of some dark days indeed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dimitri

    How many historians does it take to write a bad book that translates into a great TV series ? While the deeds on Easy Company, encompassing the most famous American battles in the ETO, are a goldmine, mr. Ambrose fails to preserve the thrill in print. The participants don't come to life, even tough they are introduced with the standard sort of pre-war bio in the body of the text and rounded up with a post-war bio. The heat of battle, ironically, is only felt in the icy cold of an Ardennes winter: How many historians does it take to write a bad book that translates into a great TV series ? While the deeds on Easy Company, encompassing the most famous American battles in the ETO, are a goldmine, mr. Ambrose fails to preserve the thrill in print. The participants don't come to life, even tough they are introduced with the standard sort of pre-war bio in the body of the text and rounded up with a post-war bio. The heat of battle, ironically, is only felt in the icy cold of an Ardennes winter: "they got through the Bulge because they had become a band of brothers" What it has instead in abundance is an overkill of American gung-ho. As a companion to the series (most post-2001 readers presumably watched it before turning to the book) it barely manages to clarify or connect what the scenarists compressed or left out. Does it do anything right ? Two things, perhaps. People go in and out of focus as they are killed or transferred. There is hardly a 'main cast' that is in the thick of the fighting from Normandy to Berchtesgaden; Winters was promoted to Batallion level, others take months to recover from wounds. This feeling of blurry anonimity is best felt during basic training, when they're still jumps away from being anelite individual wearing Airborne wings. Secondly, it shows that even the great WWII was ultimately only a few years out of a human lifespan of 70, albeit influential ones. Some men made a military career that saw them in action in Korea and in command in Vietnam. Many profited from the GI bill to pursue a college degree & a succesful professional life, markedly within the fields of construction and teaching, which share a goal : to improve people and the physical world they inhabit. It's a noble sentiment. On the other hand, some men closed the book on the army and did not stay in touch through veteran associations. A few died bitter, a few let their demons pull the trigger. There is no Greatest Generation. Only great people within a generation that took part in a large war. And all the losers and assholes great people share every generation with as well as a draft. And yes, that captain Sobel was one of those.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    Rare indeed are the occasions in which I am forced to proclaim an adaptation of the source material to be not just superior, but vastly so. And here we are, with me feeling duty bound do do exactly that. Paratroopers of Easy Company, in the square of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Normandy (June 7, 1944) Let me be frank right at the start: Ambrose's deficiencies on display as both a writer and historian are truly baffling to behold, and become glaringly obvious once one manages to detach these from the a Rare indeed are the occasions in which I am forced to proclaim an adaptation of the source material to be not just superior, but vastly so. And here we are, with me feeling duty bound do do exactly that. Paratroopers of Easy Company, in the square of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Normandy (June 7, 1944) Let me be frank right at the start: Ambrose's deficiencies on display as both a writer and historian are truly baffling to behold, and become glaringly obvious once one manages to detach these from the admittedly inspiring nature of the subject treated. And that is in essence the problem, the dilemma if you will. The only thing that does somewhat "save" this book IS the subject: the story of the elite military outfit -exclusively composed of volunteers - of Easy Company, which played such a crucial part in the Western European theatre of war. It performed the function of Johnny-on-the-spot in the most significant operations during WW II : D-Day, Operation Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge and, as icing on the cake, the capture of Hitler's own Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgarden. They went through abject hell, suffered enormous casualties, and many who came out at the other end alive would remain scarred both physically as mentally. Without such a grand tale to work with, I can't imagine Ambrose ever having gained the prominence that he had. Naturally, it would be grossly unfair to him to put him down too severely. He seems like a nice, decent man, and well-meaning. His effort in looking up surviving Easy Company men, interviewing them, and collating all that information was and remains invaluable. What is irksome though is that I firmly believe someone else should have actually written this book. A first obstacle is Ambrose's prose, which comes up short. It's blunt, stilted, disjointed and lacking in elegance. This becomes especially obvious whenever he quotes directly from one of the men of Easy Company, David Webster, a Harvard man and aspiring writer at that time. Webster's prose is alive, vibrant and perceptive, unlike Ambrose's, which is just serviceable on the whole, and really quite terrible in certain passages. Additionally, the book is bereft of any tension or drama. It has no narrative momentum, no vividness. How you don't manage to make this at least somewhat exciting, I have no idea. As a great admirer (and repeat rewatcher) of the Hanks-Spielberg helmed HBO miniseries, it was interesting to compare and contrast, but while going through the book a nagging thought kept interjecting: why was this considered a great, universally acclaimed book even before the miniseries existed? Am I living in an alternate dimension or something? What am I missing? Frightful experience, let me tell you. And now we come to its value as a work of military history (Ambrose was a historian in a professional capacity), arguably the most important element. Again, not a pretty picture. Hero worship, jingoism, inaccuracies, contrived extrapolations and conclusions riddle the text. Ambrose's perspective is just far too skewed. It reads like an officially sanctioned hagiography, which no self-respecting historian should ever want to be associated with. A suspicious hint of this is inadvertently given in the book's afterword (would putting it in the foreword have scared off the serious military history enthusiasts?): "I have circulated the manuscript of this book to the men of Easy Company. I have received a great deal of criticism, corrections, and suggestions in return. Winters and Lipton especially have gone through it line by line. This book is, then, very much a group effort." So there we have it. Gone is detached objectivity, relegated to a black hole of oblivion. In fear of not wanting to offend his subjects (one supposes, by then, having become his friends) Ambrose gives way to their own vision of what his book should be, and compromises the integrity of the work as a result. Unforgivable. One other, final, thing that made me cringe was its pro-war rhetoric, which I am particularly sensitive to. Ambrose seems to have no problems with presenting a portrait of war as a somehow adventurous undertaking, where boys turn to so they can become "real men". Needless to say, this is a childish notion. I'm personally friends with a retired, very experienced paratrooper who was in Rwanda during the brutal '94 genocide, and I can't imagine him ever uttering such a foolish statement. In fact, he would slap me to the head were I to do so. And I wouldn't reproach him at all for it. Dangerous sentiments of that kind have gotten a lot of young, naive boys needlessly killed since the dawn of humankind. Not all is lost, however. For those interested in the story of Easy Company , I would direct you to the excellent HBO miniseries and its poignant accompanying documentary if you have not already seen it, as there you can see and listen to these men describe their experiences directly. A marked contrast with the soldiers described in the book. In front of that camera they are somber, pensive, meditative. Their sense of loss, pain and regrets patently noticeable by the catch in their voices, their revealing mannerisms. It is an infinitely more touching, meaningful experience than the one Ambrose managed to deliver.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    Spectacular! “Band Of Brothers“ by Stephen E Ambrose is an amazing book. For those of us who are history buffs this is a treasure of information detail to the smallest Degree about post DDay war in Europe. The beauty of the book is that Ambrose tells the story from his amazing research only but he uses individual quotes afterwards to bring the sections of the story to life. This is a five star book if there ever was one I loved it and I loved the little details like men in the battle of the bulge s Spectacular! “Band Of Brothers“ by Stephen E Ambrose is an amazing book. For those of us who are history buffs this is a treasure of information detail to the smallest Degree about post DDay war in Europe. The beauty of the book is that Ambrose tells the story from his amazing research only but he uses individual quotes afterwards to bring the sections of the story to life. This is a five star book if there ever was one I loved it and I loved the little details like men in the battle of the bulge sharing the fox hole with a dog. This is a great one! I highly recommend this book for World War II history buffs

  7. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The last few chapters were truly unbearable in their intensity. As the soldiers discover for the first time what the real cost and cruelties of the war they fought was, we too are forced to try and understand this unimaginable thing called war that can never be understood even by the ones that fought in it, let alone by posterity looking back. There are some things in life that can only ever be expressed in one way - silence - a deep and anguished silence that cries primievally in disbeilieving d The last few chapters were truly unbearable in their intensity. As the soldiers discover for the first time what the real cost and cruelties of the war they fought was, we too are forced to try and understand this unimaginable thing called war that can never be understood even by the ones that fought in it, let alone by posterity looking back. There are some things in life that can only ever be expressed in one way - silence - a deep and anguished silence that cries primievally in disbeilieving defiance. War - a devastating but eerily beautiful thing that is an embodiment of the worst of mankind but still brings out the best in men. So much better than the TV series. No timeline tricks, no visual trickery to distract you, but the pure unbridled horror of war and thrill of danger and strategy. The book manages to take you into the thick of the action, into the ditches and the gun fire better than the show.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This was so good! Two thumbs up and a booya. I'd give it 6 stars if I could. I saw the HBO series and loved it so I decided to read the book. The book was great too because it gave more information on the war and the men involved. If you have not seen the series, watch it. Then you can call me and tell me how awesome I am for recommending it to you. The really great thing about the show and the book is that it is not all about war. It is the (very accurately) true story about the men of E compan This was so good! Two thumbs up and a booya. I'd give it 6 stars if I could. I saw the HBO series and loved it so I decided to read the book. The book was great too because it gave more information on the war and the men involved. If you have not seen the series, watch it. Then you can call me and tell me how awesome I am for recommending it to you. The really great thing about the show and the book is that it is not all about war. It is the (very accurately) true story about the men of E company and the bonds they formed, and I'm not even all about forming bonds with dudes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Horsefield

    Ambrose's "Band of Brothers" is probably the best ever true WW2 novel I have ever read. It makes an excellent vacation read for those who enjoy this genre. It deals with the individual men of Easy Company, 506 PIR, 101st Airbourne Division. Through Ambrose's portrayal of the men's lives and ordeals he shows how a group of men become not just pals, but brothers. we see the formation of the company through training then on to D-Day, Holland, Bastogne, Germany and Austria. The ending of the novel ( Ambrose's "Band of Brothers" is probably the best ever true WW2 novel I have ever read. It makes an excellent vacation read for those who enjoy this genre. It deals with the individual men of Easy Company, 506 PIR, 101st Airbourne Division. Through Ambrose's portrayal of the men's lives and ordeals he shows how a group of men become not just pals, but brothers. we see the formation of the company through training then on to D-Day, Holland, Bastogne, Germany and Austria. The ending of the novel (Not to give too much away) is possably, for some, a very emotional and powerful closing to the book. I would highly recommend it to all.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    AMAZING. I was cold when they were cold, tired with them, hungry with them, and relieved when they left the front lines. I felt like I was there the entire time and could not stop turning the pages. A historical, true, and educational book. Very insightful as to war and the minds of soldiers. Lots of specific military movements, language, and actions. And, of course, violent, bloody, and most everyone dies either in war or in old age.

  11. 5 out of 5

    fourtriplezed

    FINAL REVIEW. I was a little forgiving early but it got too much. I have just had to write about a few of the many absurdities of this book. 130 pages in and will finish this but if it does not improve it will be lucky to get a 2 star rating. This author called the German soldiers Jerry, babbled about the British army taking tea and attempted to put on a affected accent. On page 172 it reads "The Germans managed to achieve surprise on a scale comparable with Barbarossa in June 1941 or Pearl Harb FINAL REVIEW. I was a little forgiving early but it got too much. I have just had to write about a few of the many absurdities of this book. 130 pages in and will finish this but if it does not improve it will be lucky to get a 2 star rating. This author called the German soldiers Jerry, babbled about the British army taking tea and attempted to put on a affected accent. On page 172 it reads "The Germans managed to achieve surprise on a scale comparable with Barbarossa in June 1941 or Pearl Harbour" Or? and not put a date to Pearl Harbour? Or even why put a date to Barbarossa? Not trust your readers to know what Barbarossa was? Easy Company is forgiven with a boys will be boys attitude when they have their leave pass's revoked for appalling behaviour, on the other hand others? No such leeway. Page 172 and 173. Apparently "The surprise was achieved, like most surprises in war, because the offensive made no sense. For Hitler to use up his armour in an offensive that had no strategic aim, and one he could not sustain unless his tankers were lucky enough to capture major American fuel dumps, was foolish. The surprise was achieved, like most surprise in war, because the defenders were guilty of gross over confident" Later "....(the American generals in the Allied camp had no experience of defending against a German offensive)" It gets worse. Consider the above comments on the Battle of the Bulge and then later on page 191, after the Siege of Bastogne is broken we get lots of further Pop History for Patriots with some nonsense about the US army lacking man power because they did not raise enough Infantry Divisions to fight seemingly "lavish deferments" ( I kid you not) by the Germans pre-war in the areas of Industry and Farm Labour, and Fathers!!! But previously he had praised Eisenhower (who is nearly always referred to as Ike, nearly but not always) who ".......blasted Hitler's assumptions by bringing into play his secret weapon." Trucks and trailers over the still majority horse drawn German Army. "Ike ordered them to drop whatever they were doing and start hauling his reinforcements to the Ardennes" We are reliably informed that the "response was incredible" It was "mobility with a vengeance". It actually reads as if he had ordered the trucks and trailers themselves the writing is that poor. Back to the Pop history for Patriots on page 191 we then get that "it was all a question of timing" because ".....Monty, commanding the forces (all American) on the Northern shoulder of the bulge, stalled and shivered and made excuses, so it did not happen" Contradictory statements and a poor delivery are making this one of the worst books I have ever read. Did this really get such a high 4.1 rating here on Goodreads? Is this how forgiving we are of so called popular history? Page 181. "The men looked like George Washington's army at Valley Forge, except that they were getting fired upon, had no huts, and warming fires were out of the question" Page 182. "The bullet his Gordon in the left shoulder...." Many of these errors. Though instead of thought. My copy of this absurd book is 9 years after release and all of these errors should have been corrected. Did they not employ an editor? Sergeant Christianson is called Christianson throughout except for a sentence on page 185 when twice he just becomes plain old Chris. Page 205. Ambrose writes that "The Germans sent over some mail" This "mail" is in fact a "shell" and it is a "dud". Apparently "Lipton just looked at it" and Mann lit a cigarette. Page 210 Ambrose writes "Back in '42 the question was, Can a citizen army be prepared well enough to fight Germans in a protracted campaign in Northwest Europe? Hitler was not the only one who answered no." Also on Page 210 Ambrose writes "At this moment Speirs arrived, breathless. He managed to blurt out to Dike 'I'm taking over'. Sergeant Lipton and others filled him in. He barked out orders, 2d platoon this way, 3d platoon that way, get those mortars humping, all-out with those machine guns, lets go. And he took off, not looking back, depending on the men to follow. They did" I actually snorted out loud at this. My snort then become uproarious laughter after "No one could locate one guy especially, who had stopped movement at a corner with two hits. Then Shifty Power, the man who spent so much of his youth spotting for squirrels in the upper tree trunks in the Virginia mountains, called out 'I see 'em' and fired" I suppose spotting for squirrels in the upper tree trunks in the Virginia mountains in your youth was bound to be useful for something one day and as Popeye Wynn made comment "You know, it just doesn't pay to be shootin' at Shifty when he's got a rifle" Page 213 and Monty had apparently done a bit of "shilly-shallying" but Eisenhower ordering Taylor to attack and then Taylor ordering the rather tired Easy Company to attack because of Eisenhower's order but because of the lack of troops due to there being no reserves because of "limited mobilisation" that caused there not being enough troops to go round Easy Company are paying the price. Well something like that anyway. Page 219 Ambrose writes of the victory of US forces over the Germans and at the end a long rambling rhetorical paragraph we learn that this victory was all a "superb feat of arms". The next line then states "The Americans established a moral superiority over the Germans" I would suggest that moral superiority over Nazism is a given prior to the war anyway. To actually imply that this was only "established" after a victory late in the war is nonsensical. This is one of the most idiotic points of view I have ever read in any book I have read about WW2. He has followed this up with "moral superiority" also being based on better methods in training, selection for command and democracy producing better soldiers than Nazi Germany. Considering the authors willingness to make excuses for previous setbacks this is just hypocritical. Also recall that at this point in time Nazi Germany was also fighting on the eastern front as well as in Italy. In fact it was being beaten by a Stalinist regime on the eastern front that Ambrose could hardly consider "Moral" or "Democratic". But if the truth be told the less than moral and hardly democratic Stalinist regime made a larger contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany than any other Allied nation. Lets just say that what Ambrose has written is possibly debatable. He actually kills off any point in his absurd "Moral superiority" nonsense in the next paragraph alone by forgetting what he had previously written. He supports this "Moral superiority" by quoting Sergeant Rader who says "I almost killed a Kraut prisoner for laughing at me after I got to the town, only to have someone grab my M-1 and shout 'Sarge, he has no lips or eyelids!' He lost them on the Russian front, frozen off" This is an absurd analogy. Sergeant Rader admits that he would have killed the prisoner if not for the missing lips and eyelids. In fact it took a comrade to take the M-1 off him to stop the possible killing of the prisoner. Add to this that Ambrose had previously discussed the killing of German POW's AND one member of the company, Liebgott if I recall, was kept away from prisoners because he could not contain himself. I would like to make it clear that I make no judgement as to the rights or wrongs of Easy Company, "Ike" "Monty", General Taylor or military tactics etc. I do make a judgement on Stephen E. Ambrose ability as a historian. This is an appalling book. Easily one of the worst history books I have ever read. In fact forget history alone as a subject, this is one of the worst books I have read period. I am genuinely staggered as to how this book is popular. Maybe the TV series? Many relate to the characters portrayed, visualise them? Is that it? Interestingly I have wondered if it was just me that found this all too much. That I was missing something and that it was really a good book and I was just being too picky. I decided to research this book a bit further and there are accusations of plagiarism. Some have done deeper research into the specifics of Easy Company at war and there are seemingly many mistakes made by Ambrose to be pointed out. It seems that at a more academic level, shall we say, there are some who are very uncomfortable with what is presented in this book. I for one am not surprised. I am no historian, a lay reader only with a general love of history. With that in mind if someone as far down the food chain such as myself can spot an utter lack of objectivity, to say the very least, those with far more ability than me will be able to tear this book to shreds and tear it to shreds some have done. Rightfully so I say. I have about 100 pages to go and will finish it. I suppose having not seen the TV series except for the first two episodes I want to know what happens. I also have Ambrose's D-day book and am considering reading it (as a form of personal mental torture) side by side with another D-Day book, maybe Beevor's, just to compare. I am not going to write anymore about the content of this book. All I can do is warn reader beware. The word appalling hardly does justice to this abysmal piece of work. I am giving this a begrudging 1 star, if I could give it less I would.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandr Voinov

    I'm shocked to learn that Ambroses taught history. The military history/analysis is pretty poor to appalling. He's good when he talks about Easy Company and relates stories. (Though he states that the book is "very much a group effort" with the men from E Company, so how much of that credit goes to them is anybody's guess, and some events were anonymised and possibly left out to protect people.) Whenever he attempts military analysis of the actual way/battles, his thoughtless "MURRIKA!" propagand I'm shocked to learn that Ambroses taught history. The military history/analysis is pretty poor to appalling. He's good when he talks about Easy Company and relates stories. (Though he states that the book is "very much a group effort" with the men from E Company, so how much of that credit goes to them is anybody's guess, and some events were anonymised and possibly left out to protect people.) Whenever he attempts military analysis of the actual way/battles, his thoughtless "MURRIKA!" propaganda grates like hell. His core thesis appears to be that "democratic soldiers" (what he terms "citizen soldiers") necessarily outfight those under fascist/totalitarian systems - which obviously flies in the face of the fact that it was the Red Army that broke Nazi Germany's back - not exactly a democratic system to be found anywhere. Not a hint of irony or awareness in his thesis. I guess it would wrinkle his propaganda too much. What I found interesting was the amount of looting and casual violence in Germany, which gels with other sources I've read. What I found even more interesting is how Ambrose condemns Germany's mistreatment of people, but totally excuses similar behaviour from his subjects (looting for fun and profit, shooting of unarmed, surrendered POWs). Not a hint of applying the same critical measurement to all sides. Ambrose nicely feathers his wooden, lacklustre account with liberal quotes from a number of decent to good military historians who are far more insightful than he is (such as Keegan). Overall, the show does a great job putting all this on the screen, so you can skip the book. What the show left out it usually left out for good reasons. I read this book for any gems that were left by the wayside, but it's not worth it, in my opinion. The has another big flaw that rankles me especially. All the German is wrong/misspelled. If you can't be bothered to get it right, just leave it out. Parading around badly-spelled, agrammatical German is doing nobody any favours. I'm giving further books of his a pass.

  13. 4 out of 5

    RJ - Slayer of Trolls

    "Amighty God, we kneel to Thee and ask to be the instrument of Thy fury in smiting the evil forces that have visited death, misery, and debasement on the people of the earth.... Be with us, God, when we leap from our planes into the dark abyss and descend in parachutes into the midst of enemy fire. Give us iron will and stark courage as we spring from the harnesses of our parachutes to seize arms for battle. The legions of evil are many, Father; grace our arms to meet and defeat them in Thy name "Amighty God, we kneel to Thee and ask to be the instrument of Thy fury in smiting the evil forces that have visited death, misery, and debasement on the people of the earth.... Be with us, God, when we leap from our planes into the dark abyss and descend in parachutes into the midst of enemy fire. Give us iron will and stark courage as we spring from the harnesses of our parachutes to seize arms for battle. The legions of evil are many, Father; grace our arms to meet and defeat them in Thy name and in the name of the freedom and dignity of man...." This is the story of E ("Easy") Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, told mostly in the words of the men who served in the company. Ambrose did the world a service by capturing these words and stories in the 1990s when many of the company's veterans were still alive (all but one are now deceased). Starting with two years of training, the narrative follows the company chronologically through the first action the men saw as they parachuted into France on D-Day (76 years ago today), fought in Holland and Belgium, then moved onto Germany and Austria towards the end of the war in Europe. Ambrose captures not only the historical details of the battles but also the personalities of the individual soldiers and the camaraderie that grew amongst them, surviving and thriving well after the war as they moved on to their individual civilian lives and careers. The book isn't poetic - despite the quote above, which was taken from a prayer given at a memorial service for the soldiers who died during the invasion of Normandy, and the title of the book which is taken from Shakespeare's Henry V - and at times it is even clunky, with the author occasionally pausing to insert his own opinion or pat himself on the back. The character assassinations of two officers could have been handled a bit more gracefully, but maybe that is to be expected with first-hand accounts. As history this book will be remembered as an indispensable first-hand account of an elite group of ground-level, front-line soldiers who fought in many of WWII's most notable conflicts on the European front.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    I love the fact that Stephen Ambrose gathered the stories of these amazing, and heroically remarkable men, and put something together like this. It is times such as these in history that should be remembered and talked about, not simply fade into a distant memory. The issue I have here, is I think that Stephen Ambrose is a mediocre writer, and that has largely impacted how I've rated this book. I watched Band of Brothers the miniseries, for the first time many years ago, and since then, I think I love the fact that Stephen Ambrose gathered the stories of these amazing, and heroically remarkable men, and put something together like this. It is times such as these in history that should be remembered and talked about, not simply fade into a distant memory. The issue I have here, is I think that Stephen Ambrose is a mediocre writer, and that has largely impacted how I've rated this book. I watched Band of Brothers the miniseries, for the first time many years ago, and since then, I think I've watched it another couple of times. It is phenomenal, and I've never watched anything like it since. It really is THAT good. The book however, didn't come close to how that series made me feel. Ambrose seems to write with a sloppy, bitty style, that didn't sit well with me. He writes as though he is in a hurry, and there is a distinct lack of charm throughout the entirety of the text. Personally, the book also felt like it needed a good editing. Despite Ambrose being a historian, there was a few things I disagreed with immediately. His views on war crimes was one, and the the other one that stood out was the comments about men go off to war for an adventure, and to become "real men." Correct me if I'm wrong, but that particular statement is completely childish, as well totally demeaning. This book holds interesting information about the men of Easy Company, and some of it I actually didn't know about, but it is written in such a way that it is unaccessible and is a chore to read. If one wants to know the real and meaningful story of Easy Company, I highly recommend the miniseries, not this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luca

    First of all, I think it is impossible to review this book completely separate from its miniseries. Especially, because I loved that series so much, and that led to me reading the book. Also, reading this book was a refreshing experience as I do not read history book as often as I would like. Band of Brothers the book is a very accessible history book if you would ask me. Ambrose’s writing style is straightforward and merely describes Easy Company’s history as he understood it through facts and First of all, I think it is impossible to review this book completely separate from its miniseries. Especially, because I loved that series so much, and that led to me reading the book. Also, reading this book was a refreshing experience as I do not read history book as often as I would like. Band of Brothers the book is a very accessible history book if you would ask me. Ambrose’s writing style is straightforward and merely describes Easy Company’s history as he understood it through facts and interviews. There was a lot of army jargon that I did not understood, but this did not hinder my understanding of the book. Yet, because of this ‘cleanliness’ in his writing style the book lacks the charm that is so clearly present in the series. Even though I feel it is a good thing that this story has not been fictionalized, the way it was written down feels a bit haphazard. It goes from person to person, place to place, campaign to campaign etc. which makes it feel like the ‘red thread through the book’ is abruptly cut off at times. Because of this I did not make the same emotional connection to the book and its characters as I did with the miniseries. What is more, I found it disturbing how ‘Americanized’ the narrative is. Where the actions of the Germans, French, Dutch, and even the English were easily judged (by the characters, but also by Ambrose) reflection on the US army’s own actions was basically nonexistent. Now, I have to say that the book’s subtitle is not ‘E company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest’ for nothing, and I did not expect this book to include all to many diverse notions on WWII. Yet, I cannot help but being disappointed by the fact that this book was constructed many years after the events took place, being based on interviews conducted during that time, and it still failed to be reflective. Actions like the enormous amount of looting where, or even warfare itself were almost glorified. It has been a while since I have last seen the miniseries, but I felt like these issues were addressed more respectfully there. In the end I would rate this book with 3 out of 5 stars. It was sufficient, I have immense respect for what Easy Company (and all others) went through, but it simply was not written captivating enough to live up to my expectations.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    Wow. I expected this book to be good, and I was familiar with the characters and significance because of the miniseries. But as usual, the book brings out more than the movie. Ambrose is brilliant in his historical narrative, and there simply isn’t a cast of characters more compelling than an easy company.

  17. 4 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    Restrained, respectful, eminently powerful account of war. Ambrose is unobjective at times and downright jingoistic at others, but, inevitable inaccuracies aside, the book offers vivid truths about not just WWII and Easy Company, but the glories and tragedies of war in general. Hard to believe I've put off reading this for so long, because it's easily one of the best war books I've encountered. Restrained, respectful, eminently powerful account of war. Ambrose is unobjective at times and downright jingoistic at others, but, inevitable inaccuracies aside, the book offers vivid truths about not just WWII and Easy Company, but the glories and tragedies of war in general. Hard to believe I've put off reading this for so long, because it's easily one of the best war books I've encountered.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    There's some serious jingoism going on here -- which is to be expected from Stephen E. Ambrose's histories (but I am okay with that because I know that is who he is before going into any of his books. Besides, he is an historian who can actually write) -- but a recognition of that jingoism doesn't take away from the sheer mind-blowing impressiveness of what Easy Company accomplished in WWII -- and their too good to be true, Hollywood style amazingness is best summed up in the career of Major Ric There's some serious jingoism going on here -- which is to be expected from Stephen E. Ambrose's histories (but I am okay with that because I know that is who he is before going into any of his books. Besides, he is an historian who can actually write) -- but a recognition of that jingoism doesn't take away from the sheer mind-blowing impressiveness of what Easy Company accomplished in WWII -- and their too good to be true, Hollywood style amazingness is best summed up in the career of Major Richard "Dick" Winters. First off, Easy Company suffered 150% casualties. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY PERCENT. They invaded Normandy on D-Day, the Netherlands in Market Garden, fought in Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge, liberated a Concentration Camp, and were one of the first to the Eagle's Nest, Berchtesgaden. There was no safe path for Easy Company. And through this madness moved Dick Winters. There are countless interesting tales throughout the history of Easy Company, from Nixon's nearly mythic alcoholism to the Sobel mutiny to Spears' mad charge, but nothing is quite so impressive as the story of Dick Winters. Shortly after his drop on D-Day, Winters led thirteen men against a Nazi artillery battery that numbered around fifty. He destroyed all four guns and won the Bronze Star. Later, at a crossroads in Holland, Winters led the 1st Platoon against a 300 strong encampment of Wehrmacht and won the engagement. He then took part in the Battle of the Bulge, in which the 101st Airbourne was instrumental to the allied effort. More impressive than all these successes, however, was the way Winters' men respected him. To listen to these men talk in the episode introductions to the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers, is to hear them talk about a man of epically heroic proportions. The men of Easy Company believed in their leadership, and that leadership was embodied by Major Richard Winters. They speak of him always leading the way; they wonder aloud how he could possibly have lived through the war; he is a real life Captain America (in all of Cap's conflicted and Constitutionally idealistic glory), but he's also a human being who was renowned for the way he cared, which is what a leader should do, and it is the way a leader should be. And that is what Dick Winters was -- a leader. The best the Airbourne has ever seen. Band of Brothers: E Company 506th Regiment 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest is the story of a Company of men, sure, but it is really the story of one man who was an integral part of that company. I love Major Richard Winters, but there is much in his story that could lead an impressionable youth into believing that old lie "Dulce Et Decorum Est, Pro Patria Mori" that I long for a personal reserve between my admiration and the reality of war. I don't know if I can give it, though. He is truly THAT impressive.

  19. 4 out of 5

    jennifer

    If you want a good summary of E Company's experience in WW2 that also follows the HBO series fairly closely, this is an interesting, not overly tactical read. Though, you should be warned that Ambrose editorializes quite a bit throughout the book, e.g., "because we were a democracy, we had better trained soliders and won the war..." and so forth. Statements like that smack a bit of triumphalism to me. It's also very coarse prose--no elegantly written passages in Band of Brothers. In fact, there a If you want a good summary of E Company's experience in WW2 that also follows the HBO series fairly closely, this is an interesting, not overly tactical read. Though, you should be warned that Ambrose editorializes quite a bit throughout the book, e.g., "because we were a democracy, we had better trained soliders and won the war..." and so forth. Statements like that smack a bit of triumphalism to me. It's also very coarse prose--no elegantly written passages in Band of Brothers. In fact, there are quite a few typos--glaring typos in some instances. You'd think after all the books Ambrose authored, and the fact that he's a high-profile historian/author, that he'd have a halfway decent editor and proofreader. Not the case!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I think many if not most will be familiar with this book as it's not only been around a while, sold well and gotten a lot of notice it's also the inspiration behind a TV edition. Here we get the story of Easy (E) company of the 506th PIR of the 101 Air Borne Division told by Mr. Ambrose through remembrances of surviving members. it's a highly interesting book giving the story/history of the outfit along with a "slice" of the "everyday war". Things are related with the "dirt still on". The men, t I think many if not most will be familiar with this book as it's not only been around a while, sold well and gotten a lot of notice it's also the inspiration behind a TV edition. Here we get the story of Easy (E) company of the 506th PIR of the 101 Air Borne Division told by Mr. Ambrose through remembrances of surviving members. it's a highly interesting book giving the story/history of the outfit along with a "slice" of the "everyday war". Things are related with the "dirt still on". The men, the officers from training through the end of the war. The men who were killed, the replacements, the survivors who went from the unit's inception to the very end. History buff? Biography aficionado? Interested in the military? try this one if you haven't already. Excellent read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Let Me Stay in My Comfortable Life of Freedom Tom Hanks captivated me with his performance in “Saving Private Ryan,” which starts out with a group of soldiers approaching “Omaha Beach.” They are trembling and shaking and puking. Then the door drops. Then the shit goes down. Then my heart is ever captivated by the heroes of World War 2. I watched this first in surround sound and I cussed so badly my friend protested. It changed my life. I couldn’t believe this had really happened. Stephen Ambrose, Let Me Stay in My Comfortable Life of Freedom Tom Hanks captivated me with his performance in “Saving Private Ryan,” which starts out with a group of soldiers approaching “Omaha Beach.” They are trembling and shaking and puking. Then the door drops. Then the shit goes down. Then my heart is ever captivated by the heroes of World War 2. I watched this first in surround sound and I cussed so badly my friend protested. It changed my life. I couldn’t believe this had really happened. Stephen Ambrose, the author of this book, “The Band of Brothers,” was also fascinated with World War 2, having heard the legends and stories growing up, he ended up doing 40 years of traveling, interviewing and research. Out of those years came several books, such as “D-Day: June 6, 1944” and “Citizen Soldiers.” These books are fascinating, but more so they are extremely sobering. For me they eventually became depressing, as I stopped my journey with Ambrose back in 2012 after reading of a troop of Germans who were shot up and killed on Christmas day in 1944 while they were singing Christmas carols (Citizen Soldiers). I may finish the book soon. Dick Winters, the Leader of the “Band of Brothers,” called Ambrose to ask him if he would be interested in their story. You see, he led his troops even after the war ended, calling them all year after year for a reunion. They are still a Band of Brothers. Even as I write this and recall the story, I feel my heart stirring and my eyes getting strangely damp. The book covers their time together in training, when they volunteered for the 101st Airborne, called Easy Company, of the U.S. Army. It follows their training through flight school, where they learned to parachute. It follows them as they parachute into German territory on D-Day all the way through to the Battle of the Bulge. This is a powerful, beautiful story, full of action and reality, a story of brotherhood, of pushing the limits of the body, mind and spirit. Even writing this, feeling the pain, remembering the story of a group of soldiers who took part in one of the most horrifying world-wide tragedies in the history of humanity, I want to close my eyes. Yes, that is a confession, something I’m really not proud of, but it hurts like a motherfucker. If anyone knows pain, hell on earth, mental anguish, the darkest sides of life, it’s a veteran of war. I once knew a veteran of WW2, used to visit him often. He was an anti-aircraft gunman. He told me he would walk what seemed an eternity. He told me of his guilt at having shot down his own men because of bad intelligence, of getting a girl pregnant while he was there, of playing his own part, and feeling insignificant. Maybe I should drive to his house again. It hurts to share another’s pain.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Malquiviades

    Just the stories told in this book made it really superb. It might be one of the best accounts on WWII. Might be it is, but for the annoying comments of Ambrose at every chapter, reminding the reader that they (US) won because the "democratic soldier" had the moral superiority over the German (Nazi) soldier. So, it is difficult to rate it properly. To win a war or a battle has nothing to do with moral righteousness. The book will be among the best on WWI if you skip Ambrose's comments on every cha Just the stories told in this book made it really superb. It might be one of the best accounts on WWII. Might be it is, but for the annoying comments of Ambrose at every chapter, reminding the reader that they (US) won because the "democratic soldier" had the moral superiority over the German (Nazi) soldier. So, it is difficult to rate it properly. To win a war or a battle has nothing to do with moral righteousness. The book will be among the best on WWI if you skip Ambrose's comments on every chapter. It is not strange that the HBO TV series based on this book is the best one I have ever seen. Spielberg and Tom Hanks just focused on the men, their pains, life and death over a most terrifying time. They mostly keep to the spectator the right to decide and judge and made any moral conclusions, skipping every bit of Ambrose's comments. Incidentally, in the book The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson, he puts it quite clear, when writes about the WWII. As one of the lessons one might learn from WWII, it is that the German soldier fought quite better than Americans and British. The Allies (as the Union in the American Civil War) won because of the superiority of numbers and industrial resources, not because they were the "good guys". The social background that enabled Germany and the Confederacy to put a fight with the best soldiers, officers and General Staff was the same that led them to their final and utterly destruction. Anyway, it is a great book to read. Do not miss it. Neither the TV series...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Janet Tomasson

    Have you ever come back in time? This is it, the real thing and you don't have to go back in time for this matter, well, not when you have Ambrose by your side. I don't think I ever heard of a "group biography," but on the other hand, I am not a historian. And you know what? It doesn't matter when Ambrose is the one who writes the book and does it so well. This book is not fooling the reader with all sorts of grandiose descriptions as we have seen in other history books - how easy it is to show Have you ever come back in time? This is it, the real thing and you don't have to go back in time for this matter, well, not when you have Ambrose by your side. I don't think I ever heard of a "group biography," but on the other hand, I am not a historian. And you know what? It doesn't matter when Ambrose is the one who writes the book and does it so well. This book is not fooling the reader with all sorts of grandiose descriptions as we have seen in other history books - how easy it is to show and prove that reality as it was; beyond imagination. This is an excellent book even for someone who isn't a fan of World War II history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Just so you know, this author was accused of plagiarism. It's important that you know this. Slate Article. And not possibly made a mistake type either (see Fareed Zakaria. Ambrose did it more than once. Knowing that fact is important, regardless of how you view the book. Just so you know, this author was accused of plagiarism. It's important that you know this. Slate Article. And not possibly made a mistake type either (see Fareed Zakaria. Ambrose did it more than once. Knowing that fact is important, regardless of how you view the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    I will try to avoid gushing, but I am in awe of what these guys did and what they sacrificed. To say that whole generation of people was an inspiration is an understatement. My grandfather was in both wars. But he never really talked much about them. What could he have said to a little kid. As an adolescent, I couldn't have possibly understood what he saw or what he went through or the historical significance of it all. But in retrospect, from my adult perspective, I'm so amazed by what my grand I will try to avoid gushing, but I am in awe of what these guys did and what they sacrificed. To say that whole generation of people was an inspiration is an understatement. My grandfather was in both wars. But he never really talked much about them. What could he have said to a little kid. As an adolescent, I couldn't have possibly understood what he saw or what he went through or the historical significance of it all. But in retrospect, from my adult perspective, I'm so amazed by what my grandparents did and the peaceful, opulent life they gave us. Reading this book is really helping me understand what they endured, what they accomplished and what it must have been like to see us all living in peace and prosperity after growing up in the Great Depression and fighting that war. My parents were radical left wing baby boomers, so needless to say they were pretty critical of their parents generation. I can see it from their perspective too. But again, as an adult, with the aid of this book, I can better understand why my grandparents felt the way they did about global politics and the role of U.S. military intervention. Like a lot of people, I read the book after watching the HBO mini series. I loved the series and I loved being able to re-experience the stories and characters all over again as I read the book. It was interesting to spontaneously recall the imagery of the show as I encountered the analogous section of the book. I'm really impressed with the way the series rendered the events in the book with such fidelity. I'm new to these types of military history books, so I have literally nothing else to compare this to. But I devoured this book and I feel like it's a terrific introduction. In fact I'm certain it's the initial installment of a first class bender of reading in the genre. I already have a huge stack of other books about WWII that I can't wait to get into. Great book. Great series. Greatest generation.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leila

    For a history book Band of Brothers is very well written. It is easy for a non-military buff to understand and Ambrose does a great job of bringing the men of Easy to life. It's difficult for me to rate the book impartially because I have already fallen in love with the mini-series. Parts of the book were probably easier to understand because I had the series as a background. The one complaint I had was that, when describing military position and combat details, Ambrose often slips into a slight For a history book Band of Brothers is very well written. It is easy for a non-military buff to understand and Ambrose does a great job of bringing the men of Easy to life. It's difficult for me to rate the book impartially because I have already fallen in love with the mini-series. Parts of the book were probably easier to understand because I had the series as a background. The one complaint I had was that, when describing military position and combat details, Ambrose often slips into a slightly boring, history professor style of writing. Still, the book is more the story of an amazing company of men that started out in Taccoa, GA in the Summer of 1942 than it is about WWII; and is worth the time it takes to tell that story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Swithered between 3 and 4 stars for this. Subject matter was enthralling and these guys really were heroes several times over. I did find the last chapter on what they did post war particularly interesting and not something that you typically get in a WW2 book. However, I've opted for 3 stars as I was bit disappointed as I had such high expectations for this - found the writing not as great as it could have been with too much detail in some cases and not enough in others. Also there were so many Swithered between 3 and 4 stars for this. Subject matter was enthralling and these guys really were heroes several times over. I did find the last chapter on what they did post war particularly interesting and not something that you typically get in a WW2 book. However, I've opted for 3 stars as I was bit disappointed as I had such high expectations for this - found the writing not as great as it could have been with too much detail in some cases and not enough in others. Also there were so many different individuals mentioned that it was difficult to recall who was who without an index (apart from the main ones). Think this is one where the TV series is better than the book and that there are better non-fiction books out there on D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    The night I finished rewatching HBO's Hanks/Spielberg co-pro of Band of Brothers, I had one of those algorithmic moments of purely designed kismet: audible told me I should listen to the audiobook of Band of Brothers. Like a fool, I did. Actually ... no. It's probably a good thing I did go straight to the audiobook because that wonderfully well crafted HBO miniseries is both an exceptional work of art and powerful piece of pro-US (and US war) propaganda. I watch that show and walk away feeling a The night I finished rewatching HBO's Hanks/Spielberg co-pro of Band of Brothers, I had one of those algorithmic moments of purely designed kismet: audible told me I should listen to the audiobook of Band of Brothers. Like a fool, I did. Actually ... no. It's probably a good thing I did go straight to the audiobook because that wonderfully well crafted HBO miniseries is both an exceptional work of art and powerful piece of pro-US (and US war) propaganda. I watch that show and walk away feeling admiration for the men of Easy Company, something approaching awe for Major Dick Winters -- as portrayed by a young Damian Lewis -- and an uncharacteristic regret that I have never fought in a war. It's nearly a guilt that makes me want to run out and enlist, or at least apologize for my pacifism to the first grizzled old veteran I see wearing a poppy. Stephen J. Ambrose's book purges me of those feelings but quick. While I do see this book as an important bit of remembrance from the officers and men of Easy Company (albeit without anything approaching a proper critical eye being applied to their stories), and I am glad this book is out there, it is a book that is undermined by the biases of the men who fought and Ambrose's reverence for their take on the war, which just happens to confirm Ambrose's own biases when it comes to the superiority of the American system and the American soldier, which make up the accepted "truism" that is American Exceptionalism. Perhaps the most telling attitudes passed from the soldiers to Ambrose to us is how the men felt about the European peoples they came in contact with. These young, privileged Americans had no trouble passing judgment on people and cultures being torn apart by war and all the deprivations war brings. In fact, the only group the men of Easy Company all liked was the Dutch (who loved the Yanks, cheering their presence, feeding them, and generally treating them like heroes, apparently). The men had multiple complaints about everyone else, however: the Brits were boring and, though good planners, the Easy men hated fighting by their side; the "ungrateful" French were "dirty" and were looked at with distrust, the Belgians were taciturn yet tolerated because the Easy men had come in consistent contact with them while fighting at Bastogne; and the Germans? Well ... the attitudes about the Germans are the most telling. It seems that all the men of the 101st believed that the Germans (well, the Nazis, since the men of Easy like to be clear that the Nazis and Germans weren't one in the same) were evil. But once that qualifier is in place the men can't help but gush about the Germans. Indeed, they see themselves in the Germans. All those hard working, go-getter Germans who were out cleaning up rubble the day after their towns were levelled were doing exactly what every good American would do. Those Germans were sober, god-fearing, conservative, dignified and would have made good friends other different circumstances. No wonder so many Germans (well ... Nazis) were able to make their homes in the US post-WWII through Operation Paperclip. They fit right in, don't you know? Is it any wonder that the US has so much difficulty with extreme right ideology? Add the biases of these regular Joes to the supremacist history of their nation and it is easy to see why right wingers can bring insurrection and sedition to the House of Congress. So all this to say I am done with Band of Brothers, and I am glad this listen is over.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Book on CD read by Collin Smith The subtitle is all the synopsis anyone needs: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Ambrose chose one unit and followed the men of that unit through their years of training, and combat during World War II. He profiles the officers and enlisted men alike, showing their reactions to training, to the regimented lifestyle the military requires, to combat, and to each other. In this way, the reader experiences the boredom of r Book on CD read by Collin Smith The subtitle is all the synopsis anyone needs: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Ambrose chose one unit and followed the men of that unit through their years of training, and combat during World War II. He profiles the officers and enlisted men alike, showing their reactions to training, to the regimented lifestyle the military requires, to combat, and to each other. In this way, the reader experiences the boredom of routine drill, the excitement and anxiety of waiting to go on the next mission, the adrenaline rush and terror of combat, the anger and compassion on seeing your comrades wounded or killed. Ambrose conducted hours of interviews with the survivors, and was given access to letters, journals and military documents. The personal stories lend great authenticity to the narrative. The text edition includes photos of the soldiers, and maps of Europe, as well as of specific battle sites. Collin Smith does a fine job narrating the audio book. He has great pacing and really brought the work to life. However … after listening to the first disc I realized the copy I got from the library was an abridged audio, so I read the text for the remainder of the book. One final footnote: In the last year of his life, Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing several passages in his book The Wild Blue. He responded that all his works are footnoted, and his sources documented. He said that his main concern was with telling the story, and he regretted that he didn’t always use quotation marks. Forbes magazine did additional research and found suspect passages in at least six of Ambrose’s books. However, THIS book, was NOT cited.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anirudh

    I have always been fascinated by WW2. Not because of all the fights and deaths but because it was a struggle in which men around the world came together and fought on against all odds. Band of Brothers tells the story of Easy Company of the 101 first airborne, of men in their own words, idiots who jump out of a perfectly good airplane. The HBO mini series based on the book led me to this wonderful piece of treasure. Stephen Ambrose collected stories from many surviving Easy Company men and wrote I have always been fascinated by WW2. Not because of all the fights and deaths but because it was a struggle in which men around the world came together and fought on against all odds. Band of Brothers tells the story of Easy Company of the 101 first airborne, of men in their own words, idiots who jump out of a perfectly good airplane. The HBO mini series based on the book led me to this wonderful piece of treasure. Stephen Ambrose collected stories from many surviving Easy Company men and wrote an extraordinary book about extraordinary men who fought an extraordinary battle and yet, when the war was over, came back home and quietly got on with their lives. The characters in the book are immensely likable. As I had seen the tv series, it was much easier for me to picture them as they appeared one by one. Winters, Wild Bill and Buck are few of the names you will never forget in your life. What is really touching in this book is not the war itself but the interactions between the men who kept fighting despite taking hit after hit. They fought with little or no ammo, barely any food (Thanks to the people in reserve who ran a black market on goods that were supposed to be sent to the front lines) and very little medicine. Another thing of surprise is how men were injured or died not because of the enemy but because of friendly fires and accidents. I don't think an event such as WW2 can be fully described by a book or a tv series, but Band of Brothers is as good as it gets. Highly recommended to those who wish to read about real heroes.

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