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All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe Hardcover – March 4, 2003

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All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe + Strike and Hold: A Memoir of the 82nd Airborne in World War II + The Sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II
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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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; 1St Edition edition (March 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891417842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891417842
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Antonio B. Ooka Jr. on 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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By G. Hyman on 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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tom Brahe on 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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rick A. Geise on 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bill Hickox on 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By P. R. Rosenkrantz on 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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