Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle

( 9 )

Overview

THEIR WORK ON THE FRONT LINES MADE HEADLINES

In February 1943, a group of journalists—including a young wire service correspondent named Walter Cronkite and cub reporter Andy Rooney—clamored to fly along on a bombing raid over Nazi Germany. Seven of the sixty-four bombers that attacked a U-boat base that day never made it back to England. A fellow survivor, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, asked Cronkite if he’d thought through a ...

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Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle

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Overview

THEIR WORK ON THE FRONT LINES MADE HEADLINES

In February 1943, a group of journalists—including a young wire service correspondent named Walter Cronkite and cub reporter Andy Rooney—clamored to fly along on a bombing raid over Nazi Germany. Seven of the sixty-four bombers that attacked a U-boat base that day never made it back to England. A fellow survivor, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, asked Cronkite if he’d thought through a lede. “I think I’m going to say,” mused Cronkite, “that I’ve just returned from an assignment to hell.”

Assignment to Hell tells the powerful and poignant story of the war against Hitler through the eyes of five intrepid reporters. Cronkite crashed into Holland on a glider with U.S. paratroopers. Rooney dodged mortar shells as he raced across the Rhine at Remagen. Behind enemy lines in Sicily, Bigart jumped into an amphibious commando raid that nearly ended in disaster. The New Yorker’s A. J. Liebling ducked sniper fire as Allied troops liberated his beloved Paris. The Associated Press’s Hal Boyle barely escaped SS storm troopers as he uncovered the massacre of U.S. soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.

This book serves as a stirring tribute to five of World War II’s greatest correspondents and to the brave men and women who fought on the front lines against fascism—their generation’s “assignment to hell.”

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Editorial Reviews

Tom Brokaw
Assignment to Hell is a book every modern journalist—and citizen—should read. The ‘assignment’ is World War II, the largest event in the history of mankind, a war unlike any other before or since. The men who covered it on the front lines, in the air and at sea were beyond brave and resourceful—and great company for each other. Those legendary journalists, Cronkite and Rooney among them, were the eyes and ears of a nation depending on them for stories that instructed, inspired and entertained. I salute them all.”
David Maraniss
“If one can say that reading a book titled Assignment to Hell was a delight, I say it now. The stories are so vivid and alive all these years later that I felt I was there with the legendary correspondents of World War II as they wrote their way from France to Germany.”
Brian Rooney
“World War II was also fought by a free press. Assignment to Hell is a worthy story about great and adventurous reporters, my father among them, who flew in the bombers, jumped with parachutes, and ducked into foxholes to report news of the war home to America.”
Chip Cronkite
“Tim Gay brilliantly tells the tale of five of the greatest reporters of World War II chasing the biggest story of their lives, filing the first draft of history with their newspapers while writing letters home to wives and girlfriends with the first version of lifelong family lore.”
Kirkus Reviews
A sprightly synthesis of literature and history follows five newspapermen who cut their journalistic teeth during World War II. Gay (Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, 2010, etc.) ambitiously reconstructs the events of WWII through the eyes of the reporters who were on the ground (or in the air) trying to get the scoop first. The New Yorker's A.J. Liebling fled Paris in advance of the invading Nazis; the AP's Hal Boyle covered Operation Torch in North Africa; Stars and Stripes cub reporter Andy Rooney accompanied bombing missions to Germany; the New York Herald Tribune's Homer Bigart witnessed the horrors of the Sicily invasion; and UP correspondent Walter Cronkite got a front seat at the Normandy landings on D-Day. Gay chose these five correspondents over, say, Ernie Pyle, who was already hugely famous, or Martha Gellhorn, because the five were "a journalistic band of brothers" (although one feminine point of view would have added a fresh perspective). Cronkite, Bigart and Rooney had all been trained in the Air Force and formed the core of the ill-fated Writing 69th, while Gay simply admires the work of Liebling, who was one of the oldest reporters. The author considers their newspaper beginnings in forging their styles: Cronkite the "meatball journalist" from Kansas City; how Bigart's harsh Calvinistic Pennsylvania upbringing and speech impediment helped fashion his taut, wry sentences; Rooney, conscripted from Colgate University, brash and clueless at the Stars and Stripes, went on to make his mark "saluting the unsung grunts behind the scenes." Boyle, also from Kansas City, worked his way up at AP and established a column while in Morocco, "Leaves from a Correspondent's Notebook." A unique, engaging history lesson.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451417152
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 783,108
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy M. Gay is the author of Satch, Dizzy, & Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball before Jackie Robinson and Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. His essays and op-eds on American history, politics, public policy, and sports have appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, USA Today, and many other publications. A graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in American history, Tim lives in Virginia with his wife and children.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Prologue: D-Day for All Their Lives 1

1 Early Impressions 29

2 "All Sorts of Horrors"-Crossing Torpedo Junction 49

3 North Africa's Lipless Kiss 72

4 Angry Meteors in Tunisia 98

5 Bombing Germany with the Writing 69th 121

6 Falling Like Dying Moths 150

7 Sicily-Darker Than a Witch's Hat 177

8 White Crosses Along the Red Rapido 212

9 The Blitz Spirit-London and the Home Front 241

10 Cherbourg and St.-Lô-Ugly Fighting Among Dead Cattle 270

11 The Breakout-Merci! Merci! Merci! 309

12 Rescuing the Kitten-Paris Redeemed 350

13 Gasping Cough-Crashing into Holland 378

14 Gray Phantoms and Murder Factories-The Bulge to Buchenwald 409

Epilogue: A Good Age 441

Acknowledgments 463

Bibliography 467

Endnotes 475

Index 499

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    All over the board. The really does an injustice to what really

    All over the board.
    The really does an injustice to what really happened there. These great men deserve an author that takes the time to research the individuals and provide perspective based on their personalities.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    Similar to E-Hilton...feels like too much copy and paste. Not a

    Similar to E-Hilton...feels like too much copy and paste. Not a welll laid out book. A poor tribute to those involved. I can't wait for a better version to come out by an authority on the subject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 9, 2012

    It's a very good story, but equally poorly written. The author

    It's a very good story, but equally poorly written. The author has taken a larger number of other books, including ones by Andy Rooney, Walter Cronkite, and other "stars" of this book, and basically cut-n-pasted into a new book. The prologue is 42 pages long and contains 91 footnotes, and that's typical of the following chapters. It does not read smoothly, it jumps around too much. When I finish this I'm going to buy Andy Rooney's book and read it, I think it will be more enjoyable. The only upside to this book is that you get a glimpse of the exploits of several correspondents in one reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    Must Read

    If you grew up during the 50s, 60s, or 70s this is a must read book. Very informative and interesting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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