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Panther Soup: Travels Through Europe in War…

Panther Soup: Travels Through Europe in War and Peace

by John Gimlette

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John Gimlette is a travel writer with a flair for the historical with a bit of humor thrown in along the way. In Panther Soup Gimlette decides to retrace the European footsteps of the U.S. Army of 1944. He chooses to take Putnam Flint, a veteran of the tank destroyer battalion, "The Panthers" as his guide. Together, along with Flint's son, they travel Flint's path through France into Germany, starting with the seedy city of Marseille. This sets the tone for the entire travel adventure. Marseille had been described as "lethally weird," and "a freak show for the chronically unhygienic" (p 26). Having Flint along as a guide allows Gimlette to dip into history and provide commentary on the regions as Flint experienced them in 1944. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Oct 15, 2013 |
This is totally not my genre. I picked this up in the bookstore because of the title (we have two black cats we call our panthers) and I bought it because I thought I'd learn something about the European theater in WWII. I'm on page 121 and so far the main messages are: There are whores in Marseilles. Whores. Whores whores whores whores whores whores whores. (Gimlette doesn't use the word whores that much, maybe not at all, but I'm up early feeding my infant son and kind of punchy. whores whores whores whores). The other lesson is that terrible things happen in a war.

The book is a travelogue, not a history lesson, so my expectations aren't fair. Still, a hundred pages about what a stinking mess of poo and whores Marseilles is? Really? I mean, the guy just went on and on. We get it! There are whores! ( )
1 vote periwinklejane | Mar 31, 2013 |
Another great Gimlette travelogue, topsy-turvy with his usual obtuse perspectives and a fractured structure which recalls his excellent At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig. His way of looking at the American experience in this theater of World War II is one you will not encounter elsewhere. Gimlette's great qualities are a tremendous power of observation, an equally strong ability to record these observations, and most importantly, the bravery and willingness to follow his own path not only in terms of actual travel but in terms of the extraordinary angles at which he comes to the things, cultures, and people he meets. ( )
1 vote scottapeshot | Mar 30, 2013 |
The author (a Brit) and an American veteran journey across Europe along the path of the Americans who landed in the south of France in the last months of the war, and fought through Alsace and Germany to Austria. A very interesting way to see the land and people, then and now. ( )
  jane.aitkens | Jan 15, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307265420, Hardcover)

In 2004, John Gimlette set off across Europe, following in the footsteps of one of the greatest armies ever assembled: the United States forces of 1944–45. His guide (emotionally if not geographically) was Putnam Flint, an eighty-six-year-old Bostonian who had landed in Marseille in the midst of World War II with his tank destroyer battalion, nicknamed The Panthers. With Flint’s help, Gimlette traveled back through the war to try to grasp the physical, social, and psychological realities of the smashed and sodden continent that Europe had become. Panther Soup is the heartfelt, keenly observed—and often unexpectedly humorous—chronicle of that journey: a brilliant hybrid of travelogue and personalized military history.

From Marseille, north to Dijon and Alsace, Paris and Lorraine, across the Rhine into Germany, and eventually south through the Alps into Austria, Gimlette provides a vivid impression of the route as it is today, from spectacular landscapes to cities that have risen from cinders. He reveals the ways in which the war is both memorialized and buried, and meshes his account with recollections from Flint and other survivors they meet along the way: former enemies and refugees, heroines and résistants, children of the blitzkrieg.

Here is an uncommonly evocative mixture of past and present, a meeting of cultures, and a deeply personal assessment of one of the most tumultuous moments in world history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:28 -0400)

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A chance encounter with an American World War II veteran leads John Gimlette, the award-winning travel writer, on an astonishing journey through France, Germany and Austria.

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