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Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A .J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle Hardcover – May 1, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Assignment to Hell is a book every modern journalist—and citizen—should read. The ‘assignment’ is World War II, the largest event in the history of mankind, a war unlike any other before or since. The men who covered it on the front lines, in the air and at sea were beyond brave and resourceful—and great company for each other. Those legendary journalists, Cronkite and Rooney among them, were the eyes and ears of a nation depending on them for stories that instructed, inspired and entertained. I salute them all.”  — Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation

“If one can say that reading a book titled Assignment to Hell was a delight, I say it now. The stories are so vivid and alive all these years later that I felt I was there with the legendary correspondents of World War II as they wrote their way from France to Germany.” — David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of They Marched Into Sunlight

“World War II was also fought by a free press. Assignment to Hell is a worthy story about great and adventurous reporters, my father among them, who flew in the bombers, jumped with parachutes, and ducked into foxholes to report news of the war home to America.” — Brian Rooney, former ABC New correspondent

“Tim Gay brilliantly tells the tale of five of the greatest reporters of World War II chasing the biggest story of their lives, filing the first draft of history with their newspapers while writing letters home to wives and girlfriends with the first version of lifelong family lore.” — Chip Cronkite, son of Walter Cronkite

About the Author

Timothy M. Gay is the author of Satch, Dizzy, & Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball before Jackie Robinson and Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. His essays and op-eds on American history, politics, public policy, and sports have appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, USA Today, and many other publications. A graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in American history, Tim lives in Virginia with his wife and children.

 

 

 

 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451236882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451236883
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Review: Assignment to Hell by Timothy M. Gay

Reviewed by Robert G. Lasher

In the winter of 1966, in a classroom where the steam heat was so stifling that even on the coldest day the teacher would throw open the windows to get a little fresh air into the mix, a young man stood before our class and professed the new love of his life. No, it wasn't Maria Frontera, the fiery redhead who sat next to him, or Janet Holding, the blonde two rows over (she was my girl); this twelve year old boy had fallen in love with a book: The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan. I don't remember everything he said, but I will never forget the passion in his voice as he delivered his seventh grade book report. "I love this book," he said. And today, almost 50 years later, Timothy M. Gay stands on his hero's shoulders to bring us the story he alone may have been born to tell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents WALTER CRONKITE, ANDY ROONEY, A.J. LIEBLING, HOMER BIGART, and HAL BOYLE, Assignment to Hell.

This is the story of World War II as we have never heard it. Told in a biographical context of five intrepid journalists, two of whom are household names to my generation, but all of whom were well known to our parents, it weaves together the history we have never been accurately taught with the personal remembrances that only people on the ground could possibly know. It's as if you were sitting with your grandfather and he says "Timmy, I know what the history books say, but let me tell you how it really was.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Timothy Gay has brought WWII to life in this book that weaves a great story of the lives of my childhood and adult news heroes and the history of the great war. I will never again be able to imagine Walter Cronkite or Andy Rooney as just "talking heads". To say that I could not put this book down is trite but true. So very much emotion and information written in a captivating and engaging style. I have missed The CBS news with Walter Cronkite but feel a new and alive reconnection with a much more human newscaster. The horrors of that war come alive through the experiences of some real people.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is interesting subject matter. The five correspondents selected to chronicle had unique and varied experiences during the war. Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney have been household names in their older years; it is fun to see them as young men. The only criticism I have is that the editing of the book, particularly in the introductory chapters, leaves the reader wondering how we got from where we were to where we are now. Characters are referenced that have not been introduced yet. Still, I recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
During World War II, hundreds of American war correspondents practiced their calling in the European Theater. Among those men were Homer Bigart, Hal Boyle, Walter Cronkite, A. J. Liebling and Andy Rooney. Timothy Gay traces the combat life and times of those five men in this appealing 2012 release from NAL Caliber.

After an introductory chapter that traces the activities of the five men on D-Day, Gay's book sweeps back in time, chronicling the early life and career of Cronkite, Boyle, et al and then follows each as they eventually journey to war. All five got their combat baptism in North Africa followed by Sicily and Italy. Some flew bombing missions as well. Once ashore on Normandy, they followed the Allied advance across Europe to war's end.

Gay is a skilled author and brings Liebling, Bigart, Boyle, Rooney and Cronkite to life as living, breathing human beings. Likewise, though he focuses on the five, Gay interweaves the stories of numerous other correspondents against the background of combat. Many of the stories those men wrote are recalled, often using excerpts from the actual columns written. As a result, ASSIGNMENT TO HELL is alternately exciting, sad, terrifying and amusing but always compelling.

In short, ASSIGNMENT TO HELL is a great read, highlighting, as it does, the exploits of a journalistic band of brothers covering the greatest story of the 20th Century. Highly recommended.

*****
One curious point. Though A.J. Liebling was one of the five covered, the book doesn't include a single photograph of him.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read Andy Rooney's book as well as Walter Cronkite's. They were known to me more by television that what they did in WWII. I really enjoyed learning about some of the other correspondents from WWII that I was not familiar with. They were famous at the time, but I was not alive at the time. It was well told and I learned some more history of WWII that I did not know. You have to admire the job they did in getting the daily story of WWII told and back to the people at home. A good read.
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Format: Paperback
This is mostly a wonderful book, written beautifully and full of interesting perspectives on the lives of the correspondents and the G.I.s they covered, giving a different view of the war than most histories. Marring the author's otherwise grand performance are some bits of erroneous reporting on the war itself, particularly on the Battle of the Bulge. For example, the author reports Gen. Courtney Hodge's headquarters in Spa as being "overrun," when the Germans in fact got no closer than five miles to Spa; talks about "2,000 [Joachim] Peiper-trained" English-speaking German troops, when those English-speaking troops in U.S. uniforms (which in the end amounted to just a few dozen) were under the command of Otto Skorzeny, not Peiper; gets Omar Bradley's (probably made-up) story of surviving a GI's challenge backwards (Bradley claimed to have answered correctly "Springfield" when asked by a nervous GI to name the capital of Illinois, while the soldier insisted it was Chicago; Gay has the Army commander getting it wrong); and incorrectly refers to John D. Eisenhower's Bulge history "The Bitter Woods" as "The Bitter Bulge." While these and a few other errors took a tad off the polish of this otherwise fine and unique book, I still recommend it highly to anyone who takes an interest in World War II history.
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