Into Dust and Fire: Five Young Americans Who Went First to Fight the Nazi Army

( 4 )

Overview

The untold story of five young American friends who left the ivory towers at Harvard and Dartmouth to take on Rommel's Panzers under the blazing sun of North Africa…
 
In the spring of 1941, with Europe consumed by war and occupation, Britain stood alone against the Nazi menace. The United States remained wary of joining the costly and destructive conflict. But for five ...

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Into Dust and Fire: Five Young Americans Who Went First to Fight the Nazi Army

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Overview

The untold story of five young American friends who left the ivory towers at Harvard and Dartmouth to take on Rommel's Panzers under the blazing sun of North Africa…
 
In the spring of 1941, with Europe consumed by war and occupation, Britain stood alone against the Nazi menace. The United States remained wary of joining the costly and destructive conflict. But for five extraordinary young Americans, the global threat of fascism was too great to ignore.
 
Six months before Pearl Harbor, these courageous idealists left their promising futures behind to join the beleaguered British Army. Fighting as foreigners, they were shipped off to join the Desert Rats, the 7th Armoured Division of the British Eighth Army, who were battling Field Marshal Rommel’s panzer division. The Yanks would lead antitank and machine-gun platoons into combat at the Second Battle of El Alamein, the twelve-day epic of tank warfare that would ultimately turn the tide for the Allies.
 
A fitting tribute to five men whose commitment to freedom transcended national boundaries, Into Dust and Fire is a gripping true tale of idealism, courage, camaraderie, sacrifice, and heroism.

INCLUDES PHOTOS

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Editorial Reviews

Lynne Olson
“A moving, beautifully-written tale of five young Ivy Leaguers, romantics and idealists all, who left their privileged lives in peacetime America to join the British Army in its pre-Pearl Harbor struggle against the Nazis. In her quest to trace the wartime experiences of her uncle, Rob Cox, and his four colleagues, Rachel Cox has produced a masterpiece of storytelling, infused with romance, danger, adventure, humor, and heartbreaking loss. It is, hands down, the best description of the transformation of untested young men into soldiers that I have ever read.”
Douglas Brinkley
“Rachel S. Cox's Into Dust and Fire is an inspired saga about a group of young Americans who hated Nazi totalitarianism to the core. Their rash bravery is the stuff of legend. This is an important new contribution to our growing World War II must-read library.”
Thomas Powers
“Rachel Cox's book achieves a kind of miracle—bringing to startling life the story of five young Americans who volunteered to fight for Britain in North Africa while the United States was still sitting out the war behind the Atlantic Ocean. Cox is a vigorous, intelligent writer, and her book is a dramatic tale of war, love, hardship, suffering and loss.”
James Holland
Into Dust and Fire is a beautifully-written book that evokes World War II in North Africa in a way that has rarely—if ever—been bettered. Touching, moving, and thought-provoking, this is a wonderful, exquisitely crafted book.”
Ken Gormley
“An elegantly-written story of five unheralded American heroes who left the security of their Ivy League schools to fight the war against Nazi Germany—before the rest of the nation joined the battle. Rachel Cox has written an inspiring, richly-documented historical account that captures the essence of American valor. Into Dust and Fire fills in an essential piece of World War II history that will last for the ages.”
Kirkus Reviews
A multifaceted, moving story of five American Ivy League students who committed themselves to fight alongside the British in the spring of 1941. Journalist Cox, the relative of one of the recruits, pieces together this extraordinary story of five patriotic young students at Dartmouth and Harvard who bucked the official U.S. decision to remain out of the war while the Nazis were conquering Europe and offered themselves as volunteers for the King's Royal Rifle Corps. Dartmouth senior Charles G. Bolté led the way by firing off an incendiary letter to President Roosevelt on the front page of the student newspaper announcing, "Now we have waited long enough." At Harvard, senior Rob Cox had been wrestling with his own decision, spurred by a high draft number; while visiting a friend at Dartmouth that spring, he persuaded fellow Dartmouth students Jack Brister and Bill Durkee, along with Harvard sophomore Heyward Cutting, to join the fight. Within six weeks the five well-educated, fairly privileged young men arrived by Allied convoy to Halifax. Mixing in with the English they underwent recruit and officer training at Winchester and were considered curiosities and often displayed for the press and upper echelon. When events in North Africa boiled over, they were finally sent out by freighter in June 1942--the author gives a terrific account of onboard shenanigans and reflections by the bored, fearful men. They endured harsh conditions in the desert and were engaged in the decisive, ferocious Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. Brister was the only Yank not wounded in this battle; once Cox had recovered from being shot in the back, he and Brister returned to fight, and they both died in the Battle of Mareth in 1943. Bolté went on to pursue the cause of veterans' rights and international peace; his first book, The New Veteran (1945), was dedicated to his fallen colleagues. A unique take on the war, from the point of view of the young, idealistic and foolhardy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451239341
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,392,927
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel S. Cox is a contributing writer for CQ Researcher, the award-winning weekly magazine published by Congressional Quarterly, and has published articles in The Washington Post.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

Prologue 1

Part 1 Celebrity Soldiers

1 Decision 7

2 Convoy 30

3 Riflemen 54

4 Officers 87

Part 2 Around the Cape of Good Hope

5 Interlude Dona Aurora 119

6 Lost in the Honeycomb 139

7 Interlude Duchess of Atholl 157

Part 3 Desert Rats

8 Into the Blue 171

9 El Alamein 196

10 Recovery 219

11 Spring 240

12 Home 275

Acknowledgments 301

Sources 307

Notes 313

Index 329

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    A good read

    Excellent book. This is a well researched, but easily readable story of five young Americans who enlisted in the British Army in World War II. Ms. Cox does a very good job of telling the story of the five young men, but she also gives very accurate context so that the reader understands the big picture of the Desert campaign.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    Vite

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  • Posted May 14, 2012

    Excellent Read

    Into Dust and Fire is an incredibly well-written book about a virtually-unknown story of American idealism and courage. Five young men graduating from Harvard and Dartmouth in 1941 decide that despite ongoing controversy in the U.S. about whether to aid the British during its time of peril, it is their duty and destiny to join the fight -- even if that means enlisting in the British army before the U.S. government declares war. The book is a fitting tribute to the valor of these 5 young men through harrowing adventures that include a treacherous ocean convoy across the Atlantic dodging German U-boats, officer training in England where they befriend the American ambassador, a second, and equally risky, ocean convoy around the Cape of Good Hope to Egypt and their struggles and successes on the desert battlefields in North Africa fighting Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. The book combines the boys' own eloquent accounts (captured from their personal diaries and letters) with information gleaned from painstaking research and ties them together with the author's own graphic and colorful descriptions -- resulting in a brilliant and informative depiction of this critical aspect of World War II. This is a terrific read for anyone interested in American history, World War II or a beautifully written book about an amazing - yet true - adventure story.

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    Into Dust and Fire is a captivating story of five idealistic and

    Into Dust and Fire is a captivating story of five idealistic and patriotic young Americans who leave their privileged lives to enlist in the British Army before the US had entered World War II. The author, Rachel Cox, takes you on a fascinating journey as she unfolds the story of the young men's journey from Harvard and Dartmouth, to their training camp in wartime England, to the North African battlefields. The letters and diaries of the five young men are woven seamlessly with the military history of the North African campaign, creating a riveting story that is a cross between The English Patient and The Band Of Brothers. The personal letters and diaries provide vivid, idealistic, and beautifully written insights into the five soldiers' adventures and hardships on their journey as well as an understanding of their motivations, dreams and patriotism. The author describes the ebb and flow of the North African campaign in such a compelling and gripping way that even those not fluent in military history can understand and appreciate this critical chapter in WW II history. This is truly a thrilling and inspiring story.

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