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The Road To War: Duty & Drill, Courage &…

The Road To War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture

by Steven Burgauer

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The Road To War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture, by Steven Burgauer, is the real-life story of Captain William C. Frodsham, Jr., from his enlistment into the United States Army right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, to the time he spent as a Prisoner of War, after his capture by the German Army in France.

This book takes us on a day to day journey as Frodsham deals with the challenges of life as a soldier, the hell of combat after landing on Omaha Beach, and the fears and frustrations of life as a POW. The reader shares in his pain, graphically described in this first person account, and I expect that, like me, you will have difficulty putting this one down.

There is no embellishment of the facts here. The narrative flows smoothly, interspersed with brief snippets of information about the events and weapons described. As an author, I am especially grateful to the likes of Frodsham, and all those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms I enjoy today. ( )
  Sturgeon | Jan 25, 2017 |
Much better attempt than the other Burgauer book I was tasked at reading. I'm not sure the intent was to write the main character as unlikeable, but the young lieutenant didn't come off as someone I championed. The inaccuracies, I could look past, and thought the book was well written. I appreciated the final chapters of service, a different view point of the war. ( )
  kristincedar | Jan 7, 2017 |
Sometime fiction reads better than dry facts and limited recollections. The author uses a diary and notes to recreate William, C. Frodham, Junior’s journal through European combat campaigns in World War II. The story based on an individual’s memory that may not reflect similar military maneuvers or combat situations that happened within close vicinity. We tag along as his joins the army, participants in D-Day, is captured, moved from camp to camp and post-war activities. Burgauer did a fine job portraying the action as observer rather than an emotional participant. An appendix with reprints of the Oflag 64 Item is included. ( )
  bemislibrary | Dec 18, 2016 |
Showing 3 of 3
Midwest Book Review
Small Press Bookwatch
March 2017

The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture

Critique: A truly remarkable story that is an exceptionally candid and well written, riveting first-person account of a young man caught up in a cataclysmic World War, “The Road to War” is especially recommended for community library collections and is a worth addition to expanding academic library World War II memoirs and biographies. It should be noted for personal reading lists that “The Road to War” is also available in a paperback edition (9781450218801, $23.95) and in a Kindle format ($2.51).


Military Writers Society of America’s review of

The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture, by Steven Burgauer

In The Road to War, author Steven Burgauer weaves a cohesive representation of the diaries of Captain William C. Frodsham, Jr., an Army Officer and POW camp survivor of World War II.

The book’s subtitle, Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture, is aptly named: From December 8, 1941 — the day after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor — to August 9, 1945, we accompany Captain Frodsham through his call to duty, basic training, Officers Candidate School, deployment to the European theater of war, Omaha Beach, skirmishes through French hedgerows, capture by the Germans, life in various stalags in Poland, liberation by the Russians, and his return home.

Having visited the D-day landing beaches several times myself, Captain Frodsham’s memoir offers me a front-row seat to the experiences of a very real soldier on that beach. I find it humbling.

In the early stages of the Captain’s memoirs, the reader sees him as an enthusiastic recruit, an ace at almost all of his training, and a cocky young man. As the war progresses and he has still not seen combat duty, he looks forward to deployment overseas. A good section of the book is dedicated to “Drill” and explains his various assignments and posts. Perhaps a bit too much, but it is tolerable.

The Captain mellows the closer he gets to actual battle, and his cockiness dissipates as he faces the brutal reality of loss of some of his men, injury, blood, and capture. His descriptions of life as a Prisoner of War (POW) are also quite interesting and made me appreciate the work of the Red Cross more than I had before I read the book.

Insights into the military lives of officers vs. enlisted soldiers are offered, and to a reader such as myself who never served in the military, the stratified structure of military life is quite revealing. Most of the time, military terms are explained throughout the book, although there are a few instances where I had to look up some things. I wished for a cheat sheet to look up the differences among squad, platoons, companies, brigades, regiments, and so on. There was a reference to a specific bureaucratic form, too, and I had to research it. There was a minor copyediting error or two, and reading the text on the photos was difficult.

These are minor inconveniences, however, because Mr. Burgauer’s book is highly engaging, and it is a memoir worth reading for its insights into human altruism, courage under fire, and adaptability to extremely difficult situations. It flows well, and is both enlightening and heartfelt.

Reading it, I found author Burgauer constructed a window into Captain Frodsham’s psyche and soul.

by Patricia Walkow, MWSA Reviewer, February 20, 2017

“An intimate and often daunting portrait of one man’s life-changing confrontation with war, The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture is highly recommended.”
— November 11, 2016, BookViral Reviews

A commendably engrossing portrait of how one soldier coped with his experiences in World War II. Burgauer has delivered a rare and humanising biography that provokes much reflection. His passion for accuracy is evident in every chapter as he captures the haphazard chances of life and the unanticipated twists of fate, without smoothing them down. Captain William C. Frodsham, Jr. was a real person caught up in events that were indifferent to him, a courageous man who never stopped giving his very best. Burgauer doesn’t hype or aggrandize the detailed richness of his story, but diligently conveys the extremes and cold harsh realities of men at war whilst maintaining the self-effacing honesty of Frodsham’s words. As a human story with an emotional intensity it has no need for conventional or dramatic order. It’s undeniably harrowing at times, particularly in recounting the traumas of imprisonment behind enemy lines but on another level it celebrates the endurance and resilience of soldiers at war lest we ever forget the sacrifices so many have made.


added by Steven_Burgauer | editBookViral, John Reese (Nov 11, 2016)
“Personal, inspiring & insightful.”

After World War II Bill Frodsham led an everyday life, raising a family in an ordinary US suburb. He, his wife and children became friends with the Burgauer family, little Steven Burgauer knowing him as Mr. F. Time rolls on and little Steven grows up, and then eventually retires from the American financial sector to write science fiction and lecture from time to time. He's therefore surprised when, out of the blue, Mr. F's daughter tracks him down and presents him with a pile of handwritten notes asking Steven to make them into a book. These are Mr. F's self-authored memoirs, stretching from his youth onwards and showing that this seemingly good, kind but unremarkable man was anything but unremarkable. During the war Mr. F trained for the impossible and then lived it as he led men across Omaha Beach on D-Day. He was then captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW in inhumane conditions. Steven accepted the request and The Road to War is the result: the life and war of Captain William C Frodsham Jr.

Indeed this is a departure from the usual science fiction we enjoy from Steven, but it's easy to see why he accepted the challenge. Although Steven has had to add the emotion and feeling to the piece that Bill had left out of his memoirs, Bill is definitely there in his words.

Bill seems very much a no-nonsense guy, raised with straightforward salt of the Earth morals by parents whose hearts must have torn with sorrow as well as pride when their lad signed up for the infantry after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. For we readers this is where it gets really interesting as Bill's eye for detail takes us through his training in a way that other writers may skip over.

Places, procedures and the daily patterns of events right down to the types of armoury are all laid before us in a way that will sate those of us who have a deep affection for militaria without alienating those of us with a passing interest. However, for me, the most affective and affecting passages arrive with the immediate preparation for and encounter with battle.

Bill spent his final weeks pre-embarkation in the south of England training with those in his charge. What I hadn't realised (actually there is much in these pages I hadn't realised!) was that the fatalities didn't start on that fateful stretch of French coast. Eye-witness Bill retells the tragic story of Exercise Tiger when in 1942 a training exercise on Slapton Sands, Devon, went terribly wrong causing thousands of deaths. I'll leave the details with him, but it's understandable why the authorities hushed it up till recently.

As we know from history, the real horror hits the allied forces when they land in Dunkirk and again Bill fills in the bits that the history texts skip over. As he describes the confusion on the beach and how human instinct took over from finely drilled training in a way that could only come of first-hand experience, it's as if he's providing a commentary for those first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. He lists the names of the men who died around him without drama – Bill doesn't do drama – yet with a palpable sadness of one looking back and allowing the thoughts that he couldn't indulge at the time.

Bill's stoicism continues into the German prison stalags. He writes of the conditions and treatment there in an almost throwaway style, peppered with black humour and tales of morale boosting anti-Nazi one-upmanship. We extrapolate his words into what he must have experienced: the pain and suffering that accompanies poor conditions, packed cattle trucks and forced marches when half-starved and, in many cases, half-alive.

Bill has a simple narrative style that makes it feel even more authentic than these words had been dressed by a literary mind. It's a slow burner of a tale until Bill signs up but that's not important. Steven affords us access to a personal account of preparation for and commission of war that can't be equalled by those who haven't lived it.

Indeed, writings justly informing us of the bravery shown during World War II by others are everywhere. However, the writings of the brave themselves, almost unwittingly revealing their courage are more precious. This book is precious.

(Our special thanks go to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)

3 November 2016
added by Steven_Burgauer | editThe Bookbag, Ani Johnson (Nov 3, 2016)
4 stars out of 5

“The Book Reviewers,” a division of Full Media Ltd. (UK)
October 28, 2016

The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture by Steven Burgauer

Historical novel based on the diaries and autobiography of an American officer in WWII which details the remarkable courage and resilience he demonstrated in combat and capture.

William Frodsham was just one of the many thousands of young American citizens to enlist for military duty after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Unlike the vast majority of those men and women, William, years after the conflict, gathered his notes and his memories to write a detailed account of those years. Author Steven Burgauer has shaped these writings into a very readable historical novel, structured in diary form.

The opening pitches us straight into the intense fighting which followed the D-Day landings. We learn straightaway that William is a courageous soldier and an excellent leader of his platoon despite the impossible situation in which they find themselves. From here we are taken back in time to the beginning of the war and his immediate decision to fight for the country he clearly loves. The first part of the book focuses on ‘duty and drill’ which aptly describes the many months that William spends in the U.S. in basic and then officer training.

Now a 2nd lieutenant, he is posted to Cornwall, England, to train and lead a platoon in preparation for the invasion of France. Throughout William keeps up a commentary of the various duties that he is assigned and of the difficulties he faced. Although there are times when you feel like you are reading a list of events, names and places, there is always historical interest as well as numerous personal anecdotes that give a clear picture of life in the U.S Army.

From the prologue, we know that William had decided not to write about his feelings and doubtless the horrors that he saw and participated in were forever with him and just too much to express with words. Although this is quite understandable, the consequence is that you never seem to get to know him as a man — you gain an understanding of his character and his qualities, but the reader is rarely allowed more than a few glimpses inside, limiting the depth of engagement with the book. That said, the combat scenes and the brutal deprivation of his time as a prisoner of war are well written, making some of the horrors of war all too real. Indeed, the awfulness of his final combat duties when freed and then seconded by the Russians are chilling.
added by Steven_Burgauer | editThe Book Reviewers, Adrian Green (Oct 28, 2016)
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A riveting first-person account of a soldier in World War II who enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor, became a junior officer in army infantry, lead a combat boat team ashore on Omaha Beach, and was shortly afterwards taken prisoner, suffering great deprivation before finally being liberated by advancing Russian forces.… (more)

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