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Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy… (1992)

by Stephen E. Ambrose

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,245881,417 (4.21)69
Stephen E. Ambrose's iconic New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became the World War II's most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army. They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak--in Holland and the Ardennes--Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world. From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments. They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler's Bavarian outpost, his Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them. This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal--it was a badge of office.… (more)
  1. 60
    Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany by Stephen E. Ambrose (fmorondo)
  2. 50
    With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge (mjmorrison1971)
    mjmorrison1971: The second piece of work used by Hanks and Speilberg for the Pacific covering the War pretty much from where Helmet for my pillow ended. Again a first hand account that does help one understand the horrors these men endured.
  3. 40
    Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie (mjmorrison1971)
    mjmorrison1971: Like Band of Brothers used as the basis of Tom Hanks & Steven Speilberg's work - this time the Pacific. A first hand account of some of the US Marine Corps early campaigns in the Pacific.
  4. 20
    Hell's Highway: A Chronicle of the 101st Airborne in the Holland Campaign, September-November 1944 by George Koskimaki (TomCat14)
  5. 10
    The Battered Bastards of Bastogne: The 101st Airborne and the Battle of the Bulge, December 19,1944-January 17,1945 by George Koskimaki (TomCat14)
  6. 10
    Rendezvous With Destiny History of the 101st Airborne Division by Leonard Rapport (TomCat14)
  7. 10
    Band of Brothers [2001 TV mini series] by Steven Spielberg (TheLittlePhrase)
  8. 21
    Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides (IslandDave)
  9. 10
    D-Day June 6 1944: the Climatic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose (tarheel)
  10. 00
    Saving Private Ryan [1998 film] by Steven Spielberg (TheLittlePhrase)
  11. 00
    D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor (tarheel)
  12. 00
    Night Drop: The American Airborne Invasion of Normandy by S. L. A. Marshall (TomCat14)
  13. 00
    D-Day with the Screaming Eagles by George Koskimaki (TomCat14)
  14. 00
    Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends by William Guarnere (cmbohn)
  15. 01
    Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood by Donovan Campbell (NickBlasta)

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» See also 69 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Recently, I watched the series “Band of Brothers” and was surprised by its quality. The often-used introductory statements of the former members of the 101st were very impressive and lent the series a lot of credibility.

After having watched the final episode, I decided I wanted to read Ambrose’s book that served as the source material. Little did I know what awaited me…

While the series provided me with a consistent, logical stream of events, the book simply adds anecdote after anecdote. There’s hardly any reflection on those anecdotes either and if Ambrose tries to add his analysis, it’s sadly lacking, simple-minded and features lots of “Hooray patriotism” that’s part of what actually caused the war he narrates about.

At times, Ambrose tries to actually support his point of view by citing other works - unfortunately, they’re mostly of similarly questionable quality as his own book. In other cases, Ambrose references books that were written in the immediate aftermath of the war and, thus, still strongly subjectively influenced.

I for one, though, prefer a proper history book on World War II and not a collection of anecdotes. Especially the strong hero worship Ambrose resorts to all too often...

“The coordination with British artillery was outstanding. So was Winters.”

… truly annoys me: From what I’ve read about Richard Winters beyond the praise Ambrose never ceases to sing, Winters must have been a great man and soldier. So let his deeds speak for himself, i. e. Wikipedia calmly tells us that “Winters agreed for the statue to bear his resemblance on the condition that the monument would be dedicated to all junior officers who served and died during the Normandy landings.” when they erected a statue at Utah Beach.

The series itself actually shows the war as it must have been - grim, bloody, horrible. Whenever the former soldiers get to talk about their experiences, they often get teary-eyed whereas Ambrose belittles what they got through by making it look easier than it could have been. And, in fact, Ambrose stoops so low that he compares the weapon fire to Fourth of July fireworks:

“War provides more meat to satisfy that lust than any other human activity. The fireworks displays are far longer lasting, and far more sensational, than the most elaborate Fourth of July display.”

Wow, just wow. Please excuse me for a moment while I vomit.

Sometimes, Ambrose tries to get in some German quotes into his narrative. Unfortunately, these parts obviously got very little attention by him or his editors:

"Hinkle, Hinkle, ist das du"

To me, a German, this reads like a verbatim translation of “is that you?” whereas proper German would be “bist Du das?”. It’s a small issue but it’s just as annoying as the military abbreviations Ambrose liberally uses. Yes, after a few uses I can imagine “CP” stands for Command Post”, “OP” for “Outpost” or “ETO” for “European Theatre of Operations” but till I figured it out, it was confusing for no good reason.

And while Ambrose obviously is a fan of “Ike” Eisenhower, he’s not good enough to avoid belittling other famous commanders like Montgomery:

“Ike needed the 101st and 82d in the line. It was a question of timing. Eisenhower wanted to attack even before New Year’s Eve, but Monty, commanding the forces (all American) on the northern shoulder of the Bulge, stalled and shivered and made excuses, so it did not happen.”

A little xenophobia bordering on racism (another cause for the war) isn’t something Ambrose is much concerned with either:

“Had Reese been a Soviet, German, or Japanese soldier, this little nonincident probably would have turned out differently.”

(The “non-incident” he’s talking about is severe, continued sexual harassment of civilians, by the way.)

War crimes are talked about but there’s no criticism at all:

““You shoot him,” Moone replied. “The war is over.” Skinny Sisk stepped forward, leveled his M-1 at the fleeing man, and shot him dead.”

Pretty much the only decent thoughts expressed in “Band of Brothers” are, interestingly, those of Richard Winters again who remembers reaching a concentration camp:

“The memory of starved, dazed men,” Winters wrote, “who dropped their eyes and heads when we looked at them through the chain-link fence, in the same manner that a beaten, mistreated dog would cringe, leaves feelings that cannot be described and will never be forgotten. The impact of seeing those people behind that fence left me saying, only to myself, ‘Now I know why I am here!’ ”

I will definitely avoid Ambrose as an author from now on and stick to my history books.

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  philantrop | Jun 27, 2020 |
I read this book a long time ago, and now after a recommendation I've received, I decided to write that although I enjoyed the TV series, I couldn't relate to the book. This may have happened because when I went to read it, I looked for a history book and this book reminded me more of a fiction. ( )
1 vote mazalbracha | Jan 12, 2019 |
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. ( )
  JantTommason | Jan 7, 2019 |
While Ambrose's prose is often horrible, I love the story of the men in this book. ( )
1 vote wordsampersand | Dec 6, 2018 |
Mi reseña y opinión de Hermanos de sangre aquí. ( )
  LuisBermer | Sep 2, 2018 |
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"From this day to the ending of the World, ...we in it shall be remembered ...we band of brothers." –Henry V (William Shakespeare)
To all those members of the Parachute Infantry, United States Army, 1941–1945, who wear the Purple Heart not as a decoration but as a badge of office.
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The men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, came from different backgrounds.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is for the book by Stephen E. Ambrose. It is not the 2001 miniseries by Spielberg. The "Original Publication Date" is 1992, not 2001 as some users are incorrectly setting.
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