Author: Stephen E. Ambrose
I watched the series Band of Brothers in 2001, when it first came out. I didn’t know about the book at the time. I watched the series, remembering thinking how great it was.
Then I watched it again. Then I picked up the book. I never read reviews until I have finished a book as I never want my opinions clouded by others.
This book I like, ok, I’ll go one step further. I love this book.
When you are writing about war, the narrative will never flow like it would a traditional book. If that is what you are looking for here, you will not find that. There are too many incidents, conversations, commands, and procedures that are to be included.
There are too many versions of events that must be considered in a book like this. Of course, every soldier sees things in a different way. A Corporal has a different view of an event to a Non-Commissioned officer. A Captain has a different view to a Colonel. The objectives of the event are the same but the view of the event and how they get there, can differ. In my view, this is where Mr Ambrose excels.
Mr Ambrose does not write this as a story. It isn’t one. It is historical fact and respected as exactly that. You are introduced to the Company, led by Captain Sobel, a man who may have the company command, but severely lacked their respect. Over time however, men of Easy have recalled him being responsible for making the company the best they could be. They respected him for that. With Sobel, they were drilled harder and longer. They marched further and exercised more than they ever had before. They were introduced to Currahee, three miles up, three miles down; something which was to become a regular part of their training.
Mr Ambrose leads you through his words to Richard Winters. Where Sobel had command, Winters had the respect. The men knew that they could follow Winters anywhere. Shifty Powers once said “Major Winters was always there, leading us. Sometimes I have no idea how he survived, but he did”
Mr Ambrose treats his book as individual essays and stories from the company, which is exactly as it should be. Each soldier is allowed their own voice to express the events and then it is included in the book. The book, once all these voices are heard, comes together as if you have just landed in the drop zone with them. No sooner have you landed, than another story takes you to the next location, whether that be Carentan, Brecourt Manor or Bastogne. Because the information is given through interviews with the soldiers and Mr Ambrose’s research, when you read of foxholes in Bastogne, you feel as though you are in there with Easy Company.
I have read in another review that there is no thrill in the print. I respectfully disagree. Why are we searching for thrill? We shouldn’t be. It is not the right word for what these gentleman went through. Thrill suggests we are reading the latest Jack Reacher or Clive Cussler novel. We’re not.
How do you capture war in print? Unless you have lived through one, you can only imagine. War is taken on by souls who sign up for it. That’s not a thrill. That’s bravery.
What this book does is give you a description. It gives you who the men are at the start and how they learn to work together. It also demonstrates how friendships were formed, friendships that lasted throughout their lives. This book tells you how the men survived and how their lives continued.
The book, which was the jumping off point for the series, is the perfect accompaniment for it. Whenever you make a TV show from a book, you cannot possibly squeeze everything in. The book gives you all those little extras.
This book for me, ticked every box. It relayed the events. It introduced and told me about the lives of the men. The book talked of each campaign and made me feel like I was part of it. But the best part of the whole thing, it respected each man and his story.