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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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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 |
For fans of Band of Brothers, Kenyon was one of the troopers with Easy Company. His memoir is an eclectic mix of stories from his days beginning with training to the end of WWII. ( )
  jenspeaks | Aug 23, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385336497, Paperback)

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 first hand 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 stands today as an unsurpassed chronicle of war—how men fight it, survive it, and remember it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An English literature major at Harvard with a talent for writing, twenty-one-year-old David Kenyon Webster volunteered for duty in the U.S. Army's parachute infantry in 1943 with the aim of seeing combat firsthand and then describing his experiences. His introduction to warfare came at the invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.Webster went on to see considerable action in the next two years, serving as a combat infantryman in the campaign through northwest Europe, during which he was twice wounded. He wrote Parachute Infantry a short time after the war, relying on his letters home and recollections he penned right after his discharge, making his memoir much closer to the war than most such works.With its abundant dialogue, charged descriptions of places and events, and skillful evocation of emotions, Webster's narrative resonates with the immediacy of a gripping novel.The memoir is divided into several episodes. The first takes place in May and June of 1944 and provides a detailed, suspenseful account of Webster's participation in the events of D-Day. The next covers several days in September, 1944, when Webster parachuted into Holland and then as part of a group of soldiers advanced through small towns, freeing them as the Germans retreated, until he was shot in the leg and forced to leave his unit.The narrative then picks up in February, 1945, after Webster has returned to his unit, and describes several weeks near the end of the war in Europe, when German resistance was still strong but weakening. Then comes the Allied victory in 1945. We see Webster's platoon arriving at Berchtesgaden (Hitler's vacation retreat in the Alps) right before V-E Day and the celebrations and lax discipline that followed the final collapse of the Third Reich.In the last section of the book, Webster recalls the monotonous routine of occupation duty, concluding with his return to the States in early 1946 to be discharged.Stephen E. Ambrose, director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans, introduces Parachute Infantry, pointing out as two important strengths Webster's honesty and his ability to describe so well his fellow soldiers - men he never would have known or associated with in civilian life but with whom he developed the strongest bonds during his wartime experience. Parachute Infantry proves to be a riveting account of a young soldier's experience of war.… (more)

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