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All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe [Kindle Edition]

James Megellas
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In mid-1943 James Megellas, known as “Maggie” to his fellow paratroopers, joined the 82d Airborne Division, his new “home” for the duration. His first taste of combat was in the rugged mountains outside Naples.

In October 1943, when most of the 82d departed Italy to prepare for the D-Day invasion of France, Lt. Gen. Mark Clark, the Fifth Army commander, requested that the division’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Maggie’s outfit, stay behind for a daring new operation that would outflank the Nazis’ stubborn defensive lines and open the road to Rome. On 22 January 1944, Megellas and the rest of the 504th landed across the beach at Anzio. Following initial success, Fifth Army’s amphibious assault, Operation Shingle, bogged down in the face of heavy German counterattacks that threatened to drive the Allies into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Anzio turned into a fiasco, one of the bloodiest Allied operations of the war. Not until April were the remnants of the regiment withdrawn and shipped to England to recover, reorganize, refit, and train for their next mission.

In September, Megellas parachuted into Holland along with the rest of the 82d Airborne as part of another star-crossed mission, Field Marshal Montgomery’s vainglorious Operation Market Garden. Months of hard combat in Holland were followed by the Battle of the Bulge, and the long hard road across Germany to Berlin.

Megellas was the most decorated officer of the 82d Airborne Division and saw more action during the war than most. Yet All the Way to Berlin is more than just Maggie’s World War II memoir. Throughout his narrative, he skillfully interweaves stories of the other paratroopers of H Company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The result is a remarkable account of men at war.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What World War II Lieutenant Megellas's memoir lacks in narrative force and elegance it makes up for in its unvarnished contribution to the historical record. Megellas was a senior at Ripon College in Ripon, Wis. during the Pearl Harbor attack; barely six months later, he had reported for duty and soon was enlisted in the storied 82nd Airborne Division. Landing in Italy on the eve of the Anzio invasion in the fall of 1943 and fighting his way through the mountainous Italian terrain, Megellas was wounded and then hospitalized ("I'm very fortunate to be alive," he wrote in a letter home. "I'm not certain as to how many Germans I killed but in my mind the minimum is at least 10"). In September 1944, Megellas's unit parachuted into Holland to take part in the bloody Operation Market Garden, in which the Allies lost more men than they would during the Normandy invasion. Megellas's description of his unit crossing the Waal River in rowboats under point-blank German fire is harrowing; that the soldiers reached the far shore and took the German positions is nothing short of a miracle. From there, Megellas and his men proceeded into the thick of the Battle of the Bulge and onward to the Rhine, fighting as they made their way toward Germany. Just as revealing as the battle accounts are Megellas's stories of the numbing boredom that soldiers in rear positions waiting for orders to the next engagement experienced, as well as the countless small acts of bravery and the daily hardships. Foregoing the romanticized hero-worship of some wartime accounts, Megellas recalls his two years of duty in the 20th century's deadliest war with admirable restraint.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Leading his H Company in a victory parade, the author remembers thinking how few of the men marching were with him in combat. Only half survived one of the battles recounted in this memoir, the September 1944 assault across the Waal River, immortalized in A Bridge Too Far (1974) by Cornelius Ryan. The attrition Megellas witnessed over months on the front line, at Anzio and in the Battle of the Bulge, shapes his narrative, but his observations about the craft of killing lend it a distinctive tone. In the firefights the author describes, the role of the combat leader is central, for he must both take orders from higher command and give orders to his platoon. Alongside his brother lieutenants in this role, Megellas was plainly an incredibly effective and brave leader, which is reinforced by his laconic, factual writing. Nor is authenticity lacking, as Megellas is brutally honest in admitting his hatred for German soldiers and his satisfaction in killing them. Strongly put and unsentimental, this memoir is a must for the World War II collection. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1920 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0891418369
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBFW4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,981 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just an honest paratrooper July 14, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Some may say Megellas is self-congratulatory, brutal, tasteless.
Others will say he is an ultimate hero. His own account indicates
to me he is like many men, somewhere between hero and villain.
And his account is above all else, frank and honest.
Megellas was not a cook, senior officer, engineer. His
Military Occupational Specialty was as he says plainly to "kill
Germans". Megellas makes it clear that persevering amidst so
much death required an unpleasant "kill or be killed", "war is
hell" mentality. Megellas admits he was brutal but that so were
the Germans and that killing can get personal if a buddy is killed.
If you like the clean Patton, Ike, Hollywood portrayals of D-Day
and Market Garden, this book is not for you. He doesn't hide his
grunt's contempt for higher-ups (Colonels and higher) or rear
echelon support types. Nor does he hide the savage behavior of
war-hardened troopers: looting dead Germans, his own stealing of wine from a church.
The book is good for authentic accounts of patrols, army jargon,
equipment (US and German), tactics, etc. Those who liked Band of
Brothers may like this. I sure did.
Is this book a glorification of war or a condemnation of its
brutality?? It's hard to tell! The author disliked patriots at
home who had an innocent view of war but he says clearly that
the Germans and Italians deserved what they got.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One from Ripon March 12, 2004
Format:Hardcover
As one of the six Ripon College Grads who went to Ft. Knox with Jim mentioned in the book, I appreciated the Authors story. I am proud of Jim and all of his accomplishments. It was a great book, and greater story of many young men who saved the World.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So enjoyable...it deserves a second read January 31, 2004
Format:Hardcover
A mile a minute account of the 82nd airborne in combat. Filled with stunning combat scenes that leave you on the edge of your seat. His feelings for the German civilians and reflections on higher command give a unique perspective not scene in the war movies. This is the kind of book that you will call in sick to work just to stay home and read...its that good! WARNING, this book will get you hooked on war memoirs
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read American History September 3, 2006
Format:Hardcover
My wife and I had a few minutes to kill in Dallas/Ft. Worth before catching a connecting flight to our spring vacation destination. The airport was full of people. As we were cruising hte terminal for a bite to eat, I observed a distinguished-looking old man in full military dress uniform sitting quietly at a small card table precariously positioned between the throngs of traveling traffic and a tiny bookstore. On top of the table beside his folded hands was a small stack of books. The chaotic masses appeared oblivious to his presence. I noticed his chest full of medals.

Lt. James "Maggie" Megallas was the most decorated officer of the 82nd Airborne Division following World War II. From the rugged mountains of Naples in winter, and the beaches at Anzio, to the Battle of the Bulge, few men have survived more combat. 'All the Way to Berlin' is a sobering account of his experiences. I was awestruck by the daring and heroic crossing of the Waal River and the capturing of the bridges at Nijmegen as part of Montgomery's "vainglorious" Market Garden operation.

I pray that for the sake of the future of our nation you will remember these men and share their story with someone you love.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first-hand account from a man who was there August 25, 2003
Format:Hardcover
I am an avid reader of WWII history and have been especially interested in the ETO. I have read all of the late Stephen Ambrose's WWII offerings and particularly liked the way Ambrose would quote the soldiers so that the reader could get a better understanding of what it was like to really be there. As much as I respect Ambrose's writings, he wasn't there. Maggie was. James Megellas (Maggie) tells it like it was, and pulls no punches. Through his writing, I was able to gain insight into his thoughts and emotions before, during and after battle in a way that no third party author could convey to a reader. I had the pleasure of meeting James Megellas recently in Dallas and am proud to say that I shook the hand of a true American hero. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it really like to fight in the ETO in WWII.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked Band of Brothers, you'll love this book April 16, 2003
Format:Hardcover
James Megellas has done a wonderful job of blending action, human interest, and history together with a refreshing first- hand perspective. He pulls no punches in telling you in detail what he and the other paratroopers were thinking and doing while on the front lines. What Dick Winters (Band of Brothers) was to E/506, Megellas was to H/504.
The action is sparingly interspersed with poignant reflections about the role of the paratrooper during WWII. On page 72, for example, Megellas comments very honestly on the meaning of "War is Hell" to a paratrooper compared to commentators who have never been in battle. A commentary on page 85 based on a speech Eisenhower made to the troops in England I found to be insightful as well.
H Company did it all in WWII, which makes this book especially significant from a historical perspective. Regarding the crossing of the Waal River, Megellas says on page 139: "In daring and heroics, it was a feat perhaps unequaled by American forces anywhere in World War II."
There are many accounts in this book I have not seen elsewhere including of how my uncle, S/Sgt David "Rosie" Rosenkrantz, was killed in Holland a week after the Waal River crossing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read real stories of what what happened to our fighting men in WWII. (By Dr. Phil Rosenkrantz, Cal Poly University, Pomona)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One the finest literary works relating the emotionons and events in...
Author's vivid description of both the events and emotions of active combat puts you in the scenes experiencing, feeling, and involved in real life combat. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JK
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
An excellent book that covers the authors involvement in WWII from Italy to Germany.
Published 2 months ago by impasko
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight
I thought the book gave insight into the situation the 82nd found themselves in. I think the author made very clear he writes from his own observations and experience.
Published 3 months ago by DJ Breeuwer
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book
I really enjoyed this book. It's a very good first hand account by James Megellas. It does not present the horrors of war as something glorious.
Published 5 months ago by Dave-S
5.0 out of 5 stars Good first person view of WWII from a grunts point of view
Good book to read from veteran's view from the front lines where cold, hunger and fear were fox hole mates.
Published 7 months ago by 61sleepercab
5.0 out of 5 stars One of many silent heroes
I had the pleasure of meeting and having Mr. Megellas sign my copy a few years ago. I treasure this book, it is well written, does not go over top in detail, but does provide... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jane
5.0 out of 5 stars A job that had to be done
My wife's father was a paratrooper in the 82nd airborne who jumped at D-day. When I came across this book I wanted to read it to get a small feel for what he went through. Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. Hiland
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful account from a firsthand perspective
This is the story of the war you always wished you'd read. Magellas tells it exactly like it is, with the appropriate weight of significance and details that really indulge you in... Read more
Published 10 months ago by K. Simonsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Good insight on a GI's experience
My husband read this book and then gave it to our son who is a West Point graduate who saw action in Iraq. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Veronica H. Viggiano
4.0 out of 5 stars touches you
as this generation dies out works as this are necessary to remind us that real people endured amazing trials to prevent a global dimmunization of mankind's future. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
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