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"Anderson, a Sports Illustrated staff writer whose father served in the Navy, makes a convincing case that the Army-Navy football rivalry played a significant role in preparing many young men for war...irresistible." —-Sports Illustrated
"Anderson does a stellar job of portraying life just before and during World War II at the service academies, places of purpose and distinction." —-The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The appeal of this great story should transcend generational boundaries." —-Boston Herald
"A compelling, heartfelt drama about the loss of innocence of a generation at war and on the football fields in another time in America. This is a fascinating look at WWII from a completely new point of view."
—-Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm's Way
"With dramatic writing, fully developed characters, and a story that captures both mind and heart, this book is everything the movie Pearl Harbor wanted to be, but wasn't." —- Booklist
At around two in the morning, when the "Garfield" was about twelve miles off the coast of France, the order was sounded; "Now hear this! All assault troops report to your debarkation areas."
Romanek made his way to the spot where he would descend onto a LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized) that would ferry half of his platoon--approximately twenty-three men--and about eighty infantry personnel to the beach. Along with the hundred or so men on the LCM, there would also be explosive devices and marking panels on board, which Romanek and his platoon of engineers would erect. The marking panels were stored in twenty-foot-long polelike casings. The markers were large triangles that would be staked into the sand and would signify the D-3 exit at Les Moulins, an area on the beach that included a road that led inland to St. Laurent--a D-day objective for the infantry. Romanek carried one of the cases with him as he walked to the disembarkation point.
Boarding the LCMs was treacherous. The small vessels had already been lowered into the water and they were now bobbing up and down in the ten-foot swells. The men threw a rope net over the side of the "Garfield." In a firm tone, Romanek told his men to go, to climb down the net and then jump into their LCM. "This won't he easy," Romanek said as men began to descend. "Don't lose your grip." Because the engineers were loaded down with weapons, ammo, rations, and a life preserver, mobility was limited. At the disembarking point, one of the men turned to Romanek. His face was white and he was so cold with fear he could hardly move. "Sir, I'm scared," he told Romanek.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Lars Anderson
Posted January 2, 2010
I stumbled across this book when my grandfather suddenly started talking about his time in WWII about one year ago. Now age 87, he told me during one interview that he served in the 149th Engineer & Combat Battalion. After learning that one of the star characters in this book, Henry Romanek, was a commander in the 149th Battalion, I purchased this book to learn more. Soon after, I noticed a name hand written on my grandfather's military reunion mailing list -- Henry Romanek. To my amazement, the story that unfolded through Henry's eyes was very similar to the story my grandfather had been telling me in pieces throughout 2009. Once I received the book, I couldn't put it down. The first hand accounts of the soldiers from football field to battlefield were very thorough and told in such a way that opened up my eyes even more to what these servicemen gave for their country. I would highly recommend this book to others. It is full of life lessons in determination, relationship-building, teamwork, etc. I will forever view this period in history differently after conducting my own research and by reading this book. It is something that many young people today should take time to reflect on and learn more about. I'd strongly encourage this book as a starting point in doing that.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2005
November 29, 1941. The date seemed like the most important day of the year to the players on the two football teams. It had been circled on the calendars by the coaches of both teams before practice had begun in the summer, prior to the season kickoff. The match was the kind of game that is used to measure how successful the season was. The Army and Navy football teams traditionally met on the final weekend of the football season. It was a showdown between the two powerhouses that even casual football fans paid attention to. The first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was among the 98,542 fans who attended the contest. This year the game seemed to carry a bit more importance that late fall day in 1941. Hitler had been waging war in Europe for two years. A tension griped the country as America seemed destined to enter the war. The future military officers on both sides of the ball knew that they would face more important battles in the near future, but on that Saturday afternoon all they could do was think about was the game. Little did they know that the world would be forever changed a mere eight days later with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The All-Americans, by Lars Anderson, tells the story of four men, Henry Romanek and Robin Olds from the Army and Bill Busik and Hal Kauffman from the Navy, who played against each other in that gridiron classic. Anderson follows the careers of these men, from their arrival at their respected academies, through their football careers, and finally through their courageous service in World War II. These young men would battle each other as bitter rivals that day on the football field, only to find themselves teammates fighting the Axis Powers a few months later. The book is divided into two distinct sections. One deals with their days as cadets and the game that was the pinnacle of their football careers, while the other section covers their service in the military. Anderson¿s in depth research into the psyche of America at that time helps the reader to understand how important the game was, not only to the players on the field, but to virtually every person in the country. The pride that nearly every American felt during the days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor seemed to culminate at that football match-up. Anderson devotes a chapter of the book to the attack on Pearl Harbor to masterfully link the two portions of the book. As much as Pearl Harbor helps to connect the book, football linked these four soldiers. Romanek, Olds, Busik and Kauffman, even years later, testify that their experience on the football field helped them to be better soldiers and more importantly better leaders. All four were looked at differently by their fellow soldiers because they had played for their academy¿s football team. They were both officers and celebrities. This translated into an immediate demand for leadership by both their subordinates and their peers. This was especially true during intense battles. Busik, serving in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Shaw, tells of several instances of comforting dying sailors who requested him to tell about his playing days at the Naval Academy. Romanek, lying wounded on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion, continually thought of playing football for the Army in order to stay alert and alive. Olds would use those same memories of playing football to sustain him during long flights as he guided his plane back from numerous bombing missions over Europe. None of the men used what they had learned on the gridiron more than Kauffman. His ship, the U.S.S. Meredith, was sunk in the Pacific. He and a handful of his crewmates survived the initial attack. The crew endured four days of shark attacks until they were finally rescued. Kauffman says that he realized that ¿only the strong would survive¿. Throughout the continued attacks, he encouraged the other survivors to fight back when the sharks struck. Finally four daWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2005
Another example of how the generation that won World War II was patriotic, willing to sacrafice for each other and unbelievably brave. The book also chronicles a time when the service academies because of the times attracted the best athletes, and the Army - Navy game was 'the' game.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2009
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Posted May 4, 2011
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