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Beyond Valor: World War II's Rangers and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2001

    A hard story, a willing tribute

    My grandfather was a member of the 325 Glider Infantry of the 82nd Airborne. He served in the Bulge through the end of the war. He was on guard duty in Berlin after that. This book was suggested to me by the author as a guide in researching some of the experiences of the airborne and ranger outfits. This book was a hard book to read because the stories are so raw and genuine. In the same way, what makes the book raw is what makes it wonderful. Everyone who studies WW2 (and any war for that matter) needs to hear from these men. The author also does a great job of describing the action before the histories begin individually in the differing theaters he covers. I would highly recommend this book because it has helped me understand some of the emotions and behaviors that my grandfather had after the war. Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2001

    Finally -- A Book Told by the Men Who Were There

    I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Patrick O'Donnell's book, Beyond Valor. Beyond Valor is a watershed in the reporting of World War II oral histories -- i.e., the actual participants of history describe the events they participated in in their own words, free from editorial embellishment and hindsight analysis. Mr. O'Donnell diligently interviewed hundreds of American paratrooper and Ranger veterans from the European Theater of Operations in World War II. What he has assembled in Beyond Valor is a collection of personal vignettes from young Americans that describe what hell was like during the bloodiest war ever. These men take us through training, North Africa, Sicily and Italy, Normandy and Southern France, Holland and Belgium, Germany, and going back home. Unlike other military books that use only selected quotes from veterans and embellish their words with strategic contexts, Mr. O'Donnell lets each veteran tell his full story. In some cases, veterans for the first time ever release emotions and bitter memories that have been bottled up inside their hearts and minds for 60 years. Many of the stories are powerful and moving, even emotionally overwhelming (e.g., the Hurtgen Forest and Anzio/Cisterna oral histories). In the vein of Stephen Ambrose, Patrick O'Donnell has put together an easy-to-read book with helpful maps that goes deep into the heart of combat as seen from America's living heroes. This book -- a tribute to the greatest generation -- is a definite keeper.

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