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Parachute Infantry: An American…

Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall…

by David Kenyon Webster

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234680,769 (3.77)3
David Kenyon Webster's memoir is a clear-eyed, emotionally charged chronicle of youth, camaraderie, and the chaos of war. Relying on his own letters home and recollections he penned just after his discharge, Webster gives a firsthand account of life in E Company, 101st Airborne Division, crafting a memoir that resonates with the immediacy of a gripping novel.From the beaches of Normandy to the blood-dimmed battlefields of Holland, here are acts of courage and cowardice, moments of irritating boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror, and pitched urban warfare. Offering a remarkable snapshot of what it was like to enter Germany in the last days of World War II, Webster presents a vivid, varied cast of young paratroopers from all walks of life, and unforgettable glimpses of enemy soldiers and hapless civilians caught up in the melee. Parachute Infantry is at once harsh and moving, boisterous and tragic, and it stands today as an unsurpassed chronicle of war-how men fight it, survive it, and remember it.… (more)



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This was a good book for learning day to day operations of soldiers, and how many of them felt, or at least acted like they felt, during WWII. It had lots of Webster's memories of how conversations went, down to the swearing and bantering. Webster was in a lot of action so overall the book detailed a pretty big chunk of war time life, but it got a little repetitive and prolix on the mundane daily life. What's weird is that Webster apparently went to war with the idea of writing a book afterwards, but then ends up writing about how much he "hated" the military, and officers, etc. etc. ... so was he writing like that because he was trying to get across the general feeling of the soldiers? It sounded pretty ingenuous actually, especially since he over and over wrote of how much he hated it. It got old... fast.

Overall, any war buffs will probably like this detailed account of day-to-day WWII life but I found the over emphasis on negative dishonest and boring. Without that emphasis I think it would have been better. But, hey, I suppose in historical terms it's good to have a record of the mundane daily life. ( )
  marshapetry | Dec 8, 2016 |
I can see why this well-written war memoir was rejected by publishers just after WWII -- Webster is simply too honest about his feelings about the army, the Germans (whom he hates, but whose industriousness he comes to admire), the French, officers and war.

It's a fairly gritty look at life in one of the most-decorated units in WWII -- yet one written from a fairly realistic (or perhaps jaded) -- perspective.

Those who read or watched "Band of Brothers" will recognize many of the combat situations, yet they're told from a subtly different perspective.

Sadly, Webster died in 1961 (lost while shark fishing from a small boat off the California coast) so this memoir offers some holes (he details his D-Day drop in Normandy, but we read almost nothing of the battles that came in the days after).

Still, it's interesting reading from someone who was being as frank as he could be about war and soldiering, and it's an engrossing read. ( )
  TCWriter | Mar 31, 2013 |
No nonsense and honest account of civilians at war from a very literary person. Webster had studied English Literature at Harvard prior to enlisting in the paratroops and he paints a detailed picture of the men he encountered who he probably would not have met in civilian life. He has no time for the Army and its rules and in general had a poor view of the officers with the exception of Winters and Spiers whom he admired. His views on the people and countries in which he fought are illuminating and he had a talent and keen eye for observation on the human experience in the extreme conditions of warfare. A memoir to read again and again. ( )
  tbrennan1 | Oct 20, 2011 |
Very personal memoir of an American WW2 soldier who vehemently disliked everything about the military but did his job from Normandy to Berchtesgaden. As Stephen Ambrose said in his intro; this book demonstrate two important strengths, Webster's honesty and his ability to describe his fellow soldiers. A Harvard English Literature major, Webster met and developed strong bonds with people he would have never known or associated with prior to or after his army experience. ( )
  jamespurcell | Jul 11, 2010 |
A most unusual memoir of fighting with the 101st Parachute Infantry Division in WWII. The author, a former English Major at Harvard, gives a literate, dialogue rich account of his personal war. His power of observation and ability to describe events and character help the book to read like a novel. His running, interior reflections reveal in stark terms what it means to be in battle. The author is a member of the famed E Company of the 506th, made famous by Stephen Ambrose in his book, Band of Brothers. Further books and a TV miniseries have made this one of the best chronicled companies of WWII. ( )
  seoulful | Oct 14, 2007 |
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Average: (3.77)
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