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Babcock lets us see the war through his eyes—just over the rim of the foxhole. Undergoing his baptism of fire in the Battle of the Bulge, he endures the trials of combat, advancing through attrition to become the senior sergeant in the company. This ordinary enlisted infantryman in “just another combat division” takes the reader from infantry basic training and seven months of combat to postwar occupation duty in Germany and back home. It is one infantry rifleman’s story rather than an account of how his division fit into the grander scheme of the war in Europe—though the author relates to that by providing the reader with a roadmap of dates and locations taken. Babcock offers an intimate taste of combat, casualties, how he fought, and with which weapons (in clear “civilian” language), and both the heroism and cowardice of his fellow soldiers. Published in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army, it is a gripping account of how an ordinary American boy felt and experienced the so-called good war.
Posted June 17, 2005
As a 19-year-old enlisted man in a rifle company in the winter in Germany in WW II, I read for the first time the way it felt to be a grunt, not an officer. Babcock is uniquely qualified to write this as an Ivy League college student private who rose to become the top non-com. He knows what it feels like to be at the bottom of the pecking order when your life is on the line, and how it feels to survive when so many others weren't either lucky or skilled enough. I finally found words, 60 years later, for the feelings I had then.
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Posted January 27, 2010
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