When I think back to my school years, World War 2 history was something that seemed to pass me by in a blur. It was something we had to learn, as opposed to something I wanted to learn. My main interests were art, music and writing (surprise, surprise!). There was no passion in my life for history.
But as you get older, your life changes. Your wants and needs change. Your interests change. How you view the world changes. Who you view the world with, changes. That happened to me. My life with my late husband saw to that. We watched lots of war movies and documentaries, amongst them, Band of Brothers.
Now, let’s be honest, the worlds worst kept secret, is that I like Band of Brothers. I could sit here and tell you it’s because it’s great television. I could tell you it was the Spielberg & Hanks connection that did it. I could tell you that it was an unbelievable cast list that drew me in. But there is more to it.
So, what is it that drew me in initially, and still brings me back for re-watches? Is it great television? Absolutely yes! Do the Spielberg/Hanks names help? Of course. Was there a great cast? I’ll be honest here. I didn’t look at the cast list before I watched it.
When you think about it though, every TV show that takes on something of this magnitude, will always have an element of over-dramatisation. Of course, that leaves you with the risk of taking away the truth of the underlying history. What drew me in and brought me back again, was the real men of Easy Company. It’s that simple. The history of the company and the history of the men.
In a nutshell, that’s why this sister likes Band of Brothers.
These men. These heroes. Their stories. Their legacy.
It is history to be respected and honoured. I always hope that through my writing, I can go a short way to keeping these stories and legacies alive. In order to do that, I found myself looking deeper and deeper into Easy Company. Here’s what I have been doing:
Here is what I have read:
1. In the footsteps of Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander.
2. Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose.
3. A Company of Heroes by Marcus Brotherton.
4. We who are alive and remain by Marcus Brotherton.
5. Call of Duty by Lynn ‘Buck’ Compton
6. Hang Tough by Erik Dorr & Jared Frederick
7. Easy Company Soldier by Sgt Donald Malarkey & Bob Welch.
8. Parachute Infantry by Stephen Webster.
9. Saving my Enemy by Bob Welch.
10. Beyond Band of Brothers by Major Dick Winters
11. Conversations with Major Dick Winters by Colonel Cole C Kingseed.
12. Brothers in Battle, best of friends by William Guarnere, Babe Heffron and Robyn Post.
It might surprise you to know that I never read book reviews. Well, not before I get a book that I have had my eye on anyway. I like to read books with a clear head. No clouded opinions from someone else’s reviews. No spoilers (intentional or otherwise). I like my books to be my opinion. When I have finished a book, and my review, I do then dive onto Goodreads to see what others think! But only when I have finished.
My website has a dedicated `Band of Brothers` section and it is here where my work stays. Part of my work involves “character pieces” on specific soldiers of Easy Company. So far, I have written about:
1. Donald Malarkey.
2. Captain Lewis Nixon III.
3. Richard Winters.
4. Captain Herbert Sobel.
Of all character pieces, the obvious one to start with, was Major Winters. I then worked on the others. But the one that intrigued me the most, was Captain Sobel. People can get labelled in life.
Let’s face it, from school to now, we’ve all heard some name calling in our time. Captain Sobel was no different. He received many nicknames during his time. So, here’s my question…..are we who we are perceived to be? I don’t believe Captain Sobel was. I do believe that there was more to this man. Something I would love to find out.
My character pieces will continue over time. I have an idea on who I would like to work on next. Put it this way…..I can hear a Philly accent in my head……
1. The Community: On the World Wide Web, and in person when able, there is a Band of Brothers community. People that adore the show for their own personal reasons. They may, like me, love the history. They may like the cast and enjoy it simply as a show. I spoke to a few of the ‘community’ and wrote the article.
2. Women and War: This article was born from someone asking me this question. “isn’t it weird that women like this, war movies and tv?” So, I did some research. I spoke to several women and this article came together very naturally.
Part of the enjoyment of my writing, which has extended beautifully into my Band of Brothers section, is interviewing. There is no better way to find out about one of the veterans, their family, or their legacy, than to ask appropriate questions. There is no better way, to find out about the process of acting in Band of Brothers, and the preparation needed, than to ask the actors the relevant questions.
Care must always be taken to ensure that the respect and dignity is given to the interviewee. My questions are sometimes generic and open ended, which allows my interviewee to say as much or as little as they wish. I always tell my interviewees that if they are uncomfortable answering anything, then I completely respect that. My interviewees always are offered the chance to view the final piece before it goes live to my site.
Due to the pandemic and my location, interviews are email questions and responses. So far I have been blessed with the following interviews:
Easy Company Veterans Families
– Marianne Malarkey – daughter of Don Malarkey.
– Chris Langlois – grandson of Eugene Roe.
– Debi Rafferty – grandaughter of William Guarnere.
– Another relative interview has been confirmed and coming soon.
– Questions have been sent to another and waiting confirmation.
Actors from Band of Brothers
– Captain Dale Dye who played Colonel Sink.
– Mark Lawrence who played William Dukeman.
– Questions have been sent to another Band of Brothers actor and awaiting confirmation.
– Questions have been sent to the PR of another Band of Brothers actor and awaiting a yes/no.
Over time I have reviewed Band of Brothers in two ways. The first was a basic review of the TV show. The next five pieces looked at episodes in more depth, bringing them together two at a time.
What’s next for Madhatterpress and Band of Brothers?
What’s next for Band of Brothers work? A common question I am often asked. My plans are to keep my fingers crossed, and hope that the interview requests and questions I have submitted come to fruition. I plan to continue with articles and book reviews as well as my character pieces. There is so much history to share, that if my work gives just one person the inclination to find out more….I have done my job.
The other question I am always asked is, “are you working on other things too?” Well, the answer to that is yes. I’m constantly working on several ideas. A writer always seems to balance a few things at once. I have 3 different book ideas. Food reviews. Other TV reviews, a few poetry ideas and I also plan to write my first op-ed piece. I have chosen a subject that is currently circulating the news and is quite controversial, so we shall see how that goes.
Band of Brothers was first screened 21 years ago, in 2001. The fact that we are still discussing it now, having symposiums and online chats about it, tells you all you need to know. It stands the test of time. Respect the men. Honour the history.
A few thank you`s must be said …
To the relatives that have given me their time, you have no idea how grateful I am. It has been such a beautiful experience to share stories of your loved ones. You have all been so open and honest and I hope my work reflected that. I thank you sincerely.
To the authors that have given me their time and shared my Band of Brothers work…thank you for everything you have done to keep these stories alive.
To the cast of Band of Brothers…your hard work, your integrity, your tenacity and determination to get this show right, is something special. Thank you for the love and care you shared with the veterans of Easy.
To the most important people – To Easy Company. Thank you for sharing your stories with Stephen Ambrose. The world is a better place for you all having the courage to share your words. Thank you for being the gentlemen you were. Thank you for gifting those of us left behind, a legacy in your families and memories. Thank you for your service.