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Band of Brothers : E Company, 506th…
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Band of Brothers : E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy… (original 1992; edition 2001)

by Stephen E. Ambrose

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3,878701,328 (4.23)58
Member:ckoller
Title:Band of Brothers : E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
Authors:Stephen E. Ambrose
Info:Simon & Schuster (2001), Edition: 2nd Touchstone ed, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:History, WWII, Non-fiction, Military

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Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose (1992)

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Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
I watched the Band of Brothers series before knowing of the existence of this book, and I liked the HBO series so much that I decided to check the book to see if there are any more interesting facts of the WWII that were not mentioned and I must say that I'm disappointed with Ambrose's work.
While there ARE a couple of interesting facts that were not mentioned in the series, by times the book struck me as futile, racist and awfully biased. Being written by a North-American author, I already expected something tendentious and one-sided, like pretty much most of the war accounts that I have read so far, but given the way the story was portrayed in the TV series, I swear I didn't expect to find such a shallow narrative of what was really important in the whole story. The author strongly patronizes the heroic feats of the North-American Armies, but also seems to diminish the importance of every other country's participation in the war. Being born in a country that has been part of the Allies faction of the war, in a way I understand that absolutely no country would depict themselves as being "wrong", but I thought that the attitude and opinions of the author regarding the rival factions were almost dehumanizing. For an instance, the author condemns pillage, raping and the mistreating of civilians after a certain nation wins the war, but pretty much ignores the fact that the Allies did the same. The fact that there were soldiers that pillaged, raped and mistreated "enemy" civilians does not diminish the severity of these actions. It's like saying that you shouldn't be blamed to have hurt someone because other people have done a lot worse. I know that these are things that do happen in every single war in the World History and will not be so hypocrite to pretend it never happened, but I honestly don't think that these actions should be glorified in a way that "we're the better people because we did it less than other countries". (Tough to say, because I've never actually been to war, so I imagine that, at a certain point in your fighting, you've seen so many horrid things that you become psychologically inclined to do the same.)

Another thing that I found very lacking in this book and that, thankfully, the series did a lot better, is the "human" side of war, specially in the Siege of Bastogne and the part of the concentration camp. The Battle of the Bulge was, at least for me, one of the best parts of the story because of the difficulties that the soldiers had to face: lack of supplies, cold, ever increasing death toll, poor leadership... In the book, it seemed to be limited to random accounts of the survivors of the Easy Company. The concentration camp part was even worse, because the author simply did not mention how the concentration camp affected the soldiers. There is just one sentence of Winters stating "this is why we fight", making the whole cause seem shallow rather than actually giving it a purpose. I honestly doubt there was a single man in any of the Battalions, ESPECIALLY from Easy Company, that came back whole from the war after seeing what they have seen. Or feeling like a hero whatsoever.

I think I would be able to understand these bias if they came from people who have actually been through the war, but Ambrose was a historian. I'm appalled with the fact that a historian, who supposedly should have known of all the sides or war, was so partial to the US accounts. And while I did love the Band of Brothers HBO series, I don't think I would ever recommend this book to anyone. I'm surprised so many people liked it so much and didn't notice all these things. Nevertheless, I gave it three stars because it does respect the memories of the men who fought in that war, and it mentions what happened to them after the war got to an end. ( )
  aryadeschain | Aug 26, 2014 |
Amazing. If you like military history or even just enjoyed watching Saving Private Ryan or the Band of Brothers series, this book is a must. ( )
  scodenton | Jul 24, 2014 |
Summary: In World War II, the men of the 101st Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Easy Company were an elite group of soldiers. Trained to parachute in for ground operations behind enemy lines, these men were key in many of the major European battles of the war. After extensive training in the states, they first saw action on D-Day, held the line at the Battle of the Bulge, and captured Hitler's home at Berchtesgaden. Their amazing accomplishments came not only for their training, but from their fierce dedication to their country, their company, and above all else, to the man fighting next to them.

Review: If we're talking general principles, I prefer reading the book before I see the movie. In the case of Band of Brothers, however, there was absolutely no way I ever would have picked up the book if I hadn't seen the excellent miniseries first. First, because it probably wouldn't have interested me: I wouldn't say military history is even close to being "my thing". And secondly, because watching the movie first really helped me with some of the things that I am bad at when I'm reading. For example, I'm very bad at keeping track of names when there's a huge cast of characters, none of whom appear on the page very often. I also don't visualize faces when I read, so having the characters as they're built up on screen, and having the actors' faces to put with the names, was a huge help in terms of following along with the book. Another thing that I am very, very bad at is visualizing battles, particularly when it comes to troop movements and strategy. (Potentially caused by a lack of playing Risk as a child?) Having maps at the beginning of the book helped with this a little, but having the visual basis from the miniseries to draw on helped me understand what Ambrose was describing throughout the book. Ambrose is not writing for the casual reader, either. He is writing for people who know military and military history and military weapons and military ranks and military abbreviations and military troop organization, etc. I knew things like NCO and XO already, but he'd toss in things like CP and "Monty" without ever defining who or what they were.

So, I definitely would have enjoyed the book substantially less if I didn't have the background of the miniseries to work with. But did I gain anything from reading the book at all? On the whole, I would say yes. Much like my experience with Generation Kill (which I did very similarly, saw the miniseries then read the book), seeing the miniseries gave me the visual basis for understanding the book, but reading the book gave me the details that got cut or just didn't come across on film. More details about training, about life in camp, about the various military actions, and especially about the place of Easy Company in the larger context of the war. On the flipside, however, the miniseries focuses more on the people, on developing the characters, which I prefer but which is not really Ambrose's focus. (Although his description of the post-war years were more detailed than in the miniseries, and was one of the more interesting parts of the book.)

I was also not particularly fond of Ambrose's writing style. Apart from the constant military jargon, his tone was incredibly simplified, almost to the point of being ridiculous. (At one point he says "Hale's promotion caused some mumble-mumble in 1st platoon." "Mumble-mumble"? Seriously?) A prose stylist he is not. And while his (well-deserved) respect and admiration for these men came through clearly, the text occasionally felt a little bit cavalier about mentioning casualties or lists of deaths. (Plus this gem: "Of course there were some rapes, some mistreatment of individual Germans, and some looting, but it is simple fact to state that other conquering armies in WWII, perhaps most of all the Russian but including the Japanese and German, acted differently." America: at least we weren't as rapey as those other guys!)

So: interesting, yes. Well-researched, yes. Compellingly written, not so much. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I'm not sorry I read it, but I doubt I'll be looking up anything else by Ambrose. If you're a military history buff, you've probably already read it; if you're more casually interested in World War II (or even if you're not), I definitely recommend the miniseries, which is amazing. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Feb 10, 2014 |
Mr. Ambrose captures the essence of combat, close-living in combat, and the after-thoughts of these veterans, in such a manner that you feel as if you are living through their recollections. Instead of rehashing battles and information concerning battles, Mr. Ambrose takes you on a journey through World War II through the eyes of these individuals. Furthermore, he takes you beyond the war, and brings you into where they move on in life after the war. I set this book down, with a huge admiration for Winters and the men under his command. These individuals were truly special soldiers - and volunteers at that. An excellent accounting that brings you closer to the war and these men than any other depiction would have. I'd give it more than five stars - but that's the top limit. ( )
  TommyElf | Jan 5, 2014 |
The excellent HBO mini-series of the same name was based primarily on this book that follows E Company, 506th regiment, of the 101st Airborne from their training in the United States through the end of the war in Europe. During that period, they suffered 150 percent casualties. Ambrose describes the intense personal relationship of trust that evolved during the training of this elite group.

The book fills in the holes that were annoyingly present in the series; for example, the details of the sergeant’s revolt against Captain Sobel, their company commander, following his harassment of Lt. Winters. (Sobel never forgave the company and lived a difficult life after the war, eventually committing suicide in 1988. Neither his ex-wife, nor his sons, nor any member of E Company attended his funeral.) Ironically, Ambrose and most of the company credit Sobel with having melded the company together in such a way that they became a very effective fighting force. They scored a phenomenal 97 percent on their physical fitness test, so high, in fact, that the brass thought the battalion’s colonel had faked the results and made them do the whole thing over: they scored 98 percent the second time. They fought in many of the major campaigns after their drop behind the lines on D-Day, including Bastogne, where they replaced fleeing American troops, following the last German counteroffensive of the war. It was a brutal experience, but the training and intimacy they had gained under Sobel — and perhaps even the NCO bonding during the mutiny — that gave them the total trust in each other which proved to be so invaluable.

The relief of Bastogne was nothing short of a logistics miracle. On December 17 alone, Eisenhower managed to move 60,000 men plus ammunition in 11,000 trucks; within a week he had 250,000 men on the line, but many of them were short winter clothing and other essentials to make the cold and wet less miserable.

E Company was one of the first into Berchtesgarden, a looter’s paradise. Winters and a colleague still use a set of silver they lifted from one of the German residences. If the Germans objected, one of the soldiers wrote his parents, a “pistol flashed in his face, however, can persuade anybody.” As the brass moved in, it became difficult for the lesser ranks to hold on to some of the fancier prizes. One soldier had to turn over a Mercedes he had liberated. He thought it might be a good idea first to test the windows to see if they were bullet-proof. He discovered that if you used armor-piercing ammo, “it would get the job done.” The radiator turned out not to be so well armed, and Winters thanked the man for his research, “agreeing that one never knew when this kind of research would come in handy.” Some other soldiers decided to see if their Mercedes could survive a 30-meter fall, so they pushed it over a cliff. It could not. “So the brass got luxury automobiles without windows or water” in the radiator.

The points system used to rotate the men home became a source of great unhappiness. The men of E Company had been at D-Day, the Ardennes, and Arnhem. All the survivors had four battle stars, and most had Purple Hearts --almost everyone in the infantry had one of those-- but few had decorations which garnered more points. Even though Berchtesgarden was relatively easy duty, the men wanted to get home. Unfortunately, because they had so many replacements, the brass felt it was important to get them trained for the expected invasion of Japan, so exercises were the order of the day, something that infuriated the veterans. The prevalence of liquor meant that everyone was drinking too much and traffic accidents were common. There were seventy wrecks during June and July, killing twenty men and injuring another 100. Several other men were shot to death by drunk GI’s. One such shooter was nearly beaten to death by E Company men after he shot one of their members in the head -- he was saved only through the intervention of a German doctor, but was disabled for the rest of his life. When the captain and colonel came to investigate and were told what had happened, the colonel’s only response was that they should “have shot the son of a bitch.”

Ambrose is a cheerleader and glories in the role, but clearly we owe a debt of gratitude to the civilian soldiers who endured a great deal of hardship for little glory or reward. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Van Normandië tot Hitlers Adelaarsnest : de Easy-compagnie, 506de Regiment, 101ste Luchtlandingsdivisie
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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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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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 074322454X, Paperback)

As grippingly as any novelist, preeminent World War II historian Stephen Ambrose tells the horrifying, hallucinatory saga of Easy Company, whose 147 members he calls the nonpareil combat paratroopers on earth circa 1941-45. Ambrose takes us along on Easy Company's trip from grueling basic training to Utah Beach on D-day, where a dozen of them turned German cannons into dynamited ruins resembling "half-peeled bananas," on to the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of part of the Dachau concentration camp, and a large party at Hitler's "Eagle's Nest," where they drank the madman's (surprisingly inferior) champagne. Of Ambrose's main sources, three soldiers became rich civilians; at least eight became teachers; one became Albert Speer's jailer; one prosecuted Bobby Kennedy's assassin; another became a mountain recluse; the despised, sadistic C.O. who first trained Easy Company (and to whose strictness many soldiers attributed their survival of the war) wound up a suicidal loner whose own sons skipped his funeral.

The Easy Company survivors describe the hell and confusion of any war: the senseless death of the nicest kid in the company when a souvenir Luger goes off in his pocket; the execution of a G.I. by his C.O. for disobeying an order not to get drunk. Despite the gratuitous horrors it relates, Band of Brothers illustrates what one of Ambrose's sources calls "the secret attractions of war ... the delight in comradeship, the delight in destruction ... war as spectacle." --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:00 -0400)

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The story of the men who were in Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne during World War II.

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