The Sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II

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Overview


The 82nd Airborne Division spent more time in combat than any other American airborne unit of World War II, and its fierce battlefield tenacity earned it the reputation of one of the finest divisions in the world. Yet no comprehensive history of the 82nd during World War II exists today. The Sword of St. Michaelcorrects this significant gap in the literature, offering a lively narrative and thoroughly researched history of the famous division.

Author Guy LoFaro, himself a ...

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The Sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II

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Overview


The 82nd Airborne Division spent more time in combat than any other American airborne unit of World War II, and its fierce battlefield tenacity earned it the reputation of one of the finest divisions in the world. Yet no comprehensive history of the 82nd during World War II exists today. The Sword of St. Michaelcorrects this significant gap in the literature, offering a lively narrative and thoroughly researched history of the famous division.

Author Guy LoFaro, himself a distinguished officer of the division, interweaves the voices of soldiers at both ends of the chain of command, from Eisenhower to the lowest private. Making extensive use of primary sources, LoFaro offers a work of insightful analysis, situating the division's exploits in a strategic and operational context.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews, September 2011
“A comprehensive history of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, from an officer of that famed unit…A tour de force for military historians and WWII buffs, and a lesson on the leadership skills required to effectively conceive and coordinate a mission.”

Booklist Online, 9/27/11
“An established military historian proffers a massive volume on the 82d Airborne Division in WWII…This tome is so massive that it holds material on everything from grand strategy to developments in tactics and equipment to the colorful personalities in which the airborne troops abounded. Military specialists are not the only ones likely to find this book absorbing and valuable.”

Asbury ParkPress, 10/23/11
“[A] scholarly and really interesting account…Talk about detailed! The author…seems to know his stuff, and then some.” 

Tucson Citizen, 11/6/11
“This book brings into sharp focus the struggles and triumphs of WWII’s most famous fighters.”

Roanoke Times, 11/13/11“LoFaro provides detailed accounts of the movements of the division and how it secured victory for the Allies…His skill is putting the reader in the camps, in the battlefield, in the middle of the action and putting all that into the political context in which the war was waged and won. LoFaro’s story will re-kindle pride in those of us who knew America’s Greatest Generation.”

Internet Review of Books, 11/21/11
The Sword of Saint Michael is not the story of the 82nd airborne division. At 358,000 words, it is the encyclopedia of this amazing division…This book may contain more than you want to know about this military group, amazing though it is in every respect…The author uses official records, letters, journals and testimonies of the soldiers to weave a complex tale of every engagement large and small.”

WWII History, Fall 2011
“The definitive account of the unit’s history…LoFaro has really done his homework…A really masterful job and a real tribute to those ’devils in baggy pants’ that gave the 82nd Airborne Division its much deserved reputation as a premier fighting unit in World War II.”

Army magazine, January 2012
“The definitive combat history of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.”

Journal of Military History, January 2012
“LoFaro makes his own attempt at a complete division history and succeeds mightily…[His] combination of soldierly and scholarly credentials makes him the perfect person to take on such a daunting task…[A] fine book…His research is, quite simply, first rate…It will long endure as perhaps our best example of a quality unit history.”

Collected Miscellany, 3/6/12
“Engaging and incredibly well-written…[LoFaro’s] combination of the detailed narrative of the small unit combat with the Division’s overall fight is wonderful.”

War, Literature and the Arts“A comprehensive history of the 82nd Airborne Division…A compelling and fascinating study in what constitutes success in combat…[LoFaro’s] style is both academically rigorous and personally engaging. While troop movements and engagements are scrupulously recorded, LoFaro includes individuals’ reminiscences in his characteristically unsentimental and honest way.”

On Point: The Journal of Army History,
Fall 2012

“Highly readable…The narrative engages the reader and places one in the time and place of some of the most desperate battles of World War II. Furthermore, it is a thoroughly researched history…A work of insightful analysis…An outstanding account of men during the strain of battle.”

Kirkus Reviews

A comprehensive history of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, from an officer of that famed unit.

Wartime Chief of Staff George Marshall viewed airborne troops, at the division level, as a means to transform the battlefield as a whole, and incorporated the idea in his 1941 draft invasion plan for April 1943. He backed the officers like Matthew Ridgway and James Gavin who brought the division into existence and organized its tactics and supplies. However, after the unit's first mission in Sicily, Eisenhower, who was unsure of a deployment based on relatively independent small units acting on their own initiative, wanted the division units disbanded. Marshall prepared a "Plan C" for Eisenhower's consideration for D-Day in 1944, suggesting a proposal to drop two or three divisions of airborne troops into the Orleans Gap 85 miles inland from the Normandy beaches to cut German supply lines and communications. Marshall called this proposal "vertical envelopment." As LoFaro ably shows, this strategic conception was subordinated to both staff caution and inter-allied intrigue, which limited the application of the unit's potential but not the heroism of its troopers in combat against the Germans. They were never deployed in the way Marshall envisioned. LoFaro singles out as exemplary both Ridgway and Gavin, who led their troops from the front.

A tour de force for military historians and WWII buffs, and a lesson on the leadership skills required to effectively conceive and coordinate a mission.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306820236
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 350,536
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 2.35 (d)

Meet the Author


Guy LoFaro is an 82nd Airborne Division combat veteran and former West Point history professor. He lives in Atlanta.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Table of Equivalent Ranks xiii

Maps xiv

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Our Whole Future is in the Air 7

Chapter 2 A Breed Apart 15

Chapter 3 Men of a Particularly High Order 27

Chapter 4 A Whole New Dimension to Soldiering 45

Chapter 5 A Small Phalanx in a Vast, Strange Land 55

Chapter 6 A Self-Adjusting Foul-up 77

Chapter 7 A Very Rugged Delivery 103

Chapter 8 Taking off for the Gates of Hell 125

Chapter 9 A Force upon which the Fifth Army could Depend 147

Chapter 10 A Terrible and Handsome Sight 175

Chapter 11 Alles Kaputt! The Americans are Killing Everybody! 199

Chapter 12 You Crossed that Causeway 221

Chapter 13 Can't Anything Stop those Men? 243

Chapter 14 A Lasting and Firm Faith in the Airborne 263

Chapter 15 We'll need Two Divisions to do that 279

Chapter 16 A Sunday Drive in an Airplane 301

Chapter 17 The Germans were Everywhere 325

Chapter 18 The Finest Division in the World Today 351

Chapter 19 Even the Gods were Weeping 377

Chapter 20 You are Looking at the Survivors 409

Chapter 21 To Turn the Tide 433

Chapter 22 Singing the Blues about the Right Flank 457

Chapter 23 Making Monkeys out of the Germans 469

Chapter 24 Another Nasty Job 495

Chapter 25 Present at the End 525

Epilogue: Soldiers Recently Engaged in War 553

Notes 561

Bibliography 713

Index 727

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