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Band of Brothers:
As grippingly as any novelist, preeminent World War II historian Stephen Ambrose tells the horrifying, hallucinatory saga of Easy Company, whose 147 members he calls the nonpareil combat paratroopers on earth circa 1941-45. Ambrose takes us along on Easy Company's trip from grueling basic training to Utah Beach on D-day, where a dozen of them turned German cannons into dynamited ruins resembling "half-peeled bananas," on to the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of part of the Dachau concentration camp, and a large party at Hitler's "Eagle's Nest," where they drank the madman's (surprisingly inferior) champagne. Of Ambrose's main sources, three soldiers became rich civilians; at least eight became teachers; one became Albert Speer's jailer; one prosecuted Bobby Kennedy's assassin; another became a mountain recluse; the despised, sadistic C.O. who first trained Easy Company (and to whose strictness many soldiers attributed their survival of the war) wound up a suicidal loner whose own sons skipped his funeral.
The Easy Company survivors describe the hell and confusion of any war: the senseless death of the nicest kid in the company when a souvenir Luger goes off in his pocket; the execution of a G.I. by his C.O. for disobeying an order not to get drunk. Despite the gratuitous horrors it relates, Band of Brothers illustrates what one of Ambrose's sources calls "the secret attractions of war ... the delight in comradeship, the delight in destruction ... war as spectacle." --Tim Appelo [via]