The Life of Major Dick Winters, The man who led the Band of Brothers
Like many others before me, I had read my fair share of military books surrounding Easy Company.
My list so far:
- Beyond Band of Brothers by Dick Winters.
- Brothers in Battle by Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron.
- In the Footsteps of Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander.
- Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose.
- Conversations with Major Dick Winters by Colonel Cole. C. Kingseed.
- Hang tough by Erik Dorr and Jared Frederick.
- Parachute Infantry by David Webster.
- Easy Company Soldier by Don Malarkey.
- A Company of Heroes by Marcus Brotherton.
- Call of Duty by Lynn ‘Buck Compton.
- We who are alive and remain by Marcus Brotherton.
- Saving my Enemy by Bob Welch.
I knew that there are other titles I have not read. Shifty’s War being one of them and this one was another. I ordered “Biggest Brother” with the intention of it joining the incredibly long queue of books to read on my kindle. You know that queue of “to-read” books that we all have…..However it jumped the queue.
While Dick Winters book, Beyond Band of Brothers, was based on his wartime diaries, this book gives you more. Its in this book you find out how he came to have the diary!
‘Biggest Brother’ talks through generations of the Winters family. The influences that Dick Winters had, that made him the man he was.
The book examines his youth and schooling. It looks at the expectations that his parents had of him.
Naturally, there is much discussion the book around the campaigns fought and how the war played out for Easy Company. This book focused on Dick Winters personal reactions to aspects of war. One part that stands out for me, (and has been in other books) is how Winters never typed a report using the phrase “I”. He always used “we”. The outcomes were reflective on the companies actions as opposed to one mans decisions.
I loved reading in this book, of Dick Winters relationship with Ambrose. Through the words on the page, it was easy to see how trust was built between Winters and Ambrose. The trust that was needed to tell the story with the honesty and integrity that it required. The memories being shared of how Easy Company veterans brought the Band of Brothers book together, were beautiful to read about. Particularly as I read how one member of Easy Company, sharing his own memories for the book , would always be one campaign behind everyone else!
Dicks life after the war, including meeting Tom Hanks & Steven Spielberg have been documented in this book. The honesty and tenacity of these meetings comes through clearly on the page. Our author has portrayed it beautifully. It was delightful to read about the filming of Band of Brothers and Dick Winters involvement.
One particular incident I noted was where Dick had sent a letter to Tom the use of foul language. Dick went further and suggested he could “shun” Tom Hanks. Winters explained how “Here in Mennonite country, we don’t get mad. We don’t through a tantrum. We just shun you. We stop having anything to do with you”. Dick won that battle.
Having read several books on the men of Easy Company and their leader, Richard Winters, each book will always have that underlying similarity. Almost like an underlying score of war. However, Biggest Brother is one of the best I have read. Now you want to know why, here goes:
- It covers Winters life. From his birth, through to 2002.
- It talks more than I have read before about influences in his life, and how they influenced him.
- It looks at the campaigns Easy fought.
- It looks at how he met those who would change his life. Ambrose, Hanks and Spielberg.
- It talks of his feelings as his comrades passed away.
This book allowed the reader to understand the input of Dick Winters into the HBO series ‘Band of Brothers’. the input from Dick Winters allowed us to know some truths that had been ‘over-dramatised’.
This book is beautifully written. It is factual with feeling. Our author has not been afraid to address the good, the bad and the ugly of war and loss. It has honesty and integrity. Two vital elements when addressing the life of someone, who at the time of publication, was still living.
To our author, Thank you for your time and compassion in this work.
To Easy Company, Thank you for your service.