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Biggest Brother: The Life Of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led The Band of Brothers Paperback – May 2, 2006

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Biggest Brother: The Life Of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led The Band of Brothers + Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters + Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; Reprint edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451218396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451218391
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The commander of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was the subject of Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers, the HBO miniseries made from it, and now this biography from a Pennsylvania journalist. Much of the book covers the same ground as the preceding work (Winters's command from Normandy through the Battle of the Bulge), but it also covers his youth in rural Pennsylvania, the Depression-era hardships he survived and the old-fashioned work ethic that stood him in good stead when he was drafted in 1941. Promotion eventually brought Winters to the rank of major and command of the 2nd Battalion of the 506th, and he was urged to stay in the army after WWII and again during Korea. But he settled down as a successful seller of livestock feed, raised a family and at the end of the book is still alive at 87. This straightforward study of the best sort of small-unit leader—fair, judiciously rewarding merit or the lack thereof, able to deal with a wide variety of people, leading from in front—is for the dedicated only. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Here is the story behind Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers (1992), about Easy Company, the 101st Army Airborne, from D-Day to the end of World War II, and the popular TV miniseries made from it. It is the story of what distinguished Easy Company from other first-class field units: its leadership, in the person of Major Richard Winters, its commander. Winters grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during the Depression. His family's means were straitened, and everyone had to contribute. Although an indifferent high-school student, Winters, because the family wished him to, put himself through college, graduating in time to choose between the draft and enlistment. Alexander is especially good at showing how Winters' sense of responsibility developed as a student, an enlistee, in OCS, and as an officer. He also gives a detailed picture of the army of 60-plus years ago, and the process that turned thousands of young civilians into the men who beat the Germans. For any reader interested in leadership, the miniseries, or both. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is a good book that is well written with very few flaws.
James T. White
An interesting book for me in that I learned much more about Major Richard Winters, one of the heroes of Stephen Ambrose's classic, "Band of Brothers."
Shaun J. Scanlon
I highly recommend this book for anyone with a WW2 interest.
James Gottshall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

258 of 261 people found the following review helpful By Michael H. Frederick on April 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the right book for those of us who want to know more about the most famous infantry officer of World War II. While covering a lot of the same territory that was told in "Band of Brothers," "The Biggest Brother" goes further and illuminates what Dick Winters was thinking and experiencing as a teetotalling, Bible reading, conscientious company and battalion commander during some of the worst combat in the European Theater. The author has obtained a treasure trove of a resource in that he got hold of a pile of letters that Winters wrote to a girlfriend/pen pal during his Army career. His thoughts and reactions to events of more than sixty years ago were recorded for this woman and it provides the backbone for this well-written work, along with interviews and solid research.

While Easy Company's story is told in more detail, I was particularly interested in what happened to Dick Winters after the war. Too often we're left hanging as to how the catalysts of these stories coped with what they went through. "The Biggest Brother" shows that, like many, many veterans, Winters struggled at first, wound tight as a drum and having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life. His stint with his friend Nixon's company didn't help matters. Nixon and his father, both raging alcoholics, more or less left Winters on his own at their company headquarters. Basically he had to learn about the business world through intense study, trial and error and strength of will, much like his rise through the ranks in the Army. His eventual success as an animal feed salesman was accomplished through years and years of hard work. We later generations sometimes forget (or never knew) that the "Greatest Generation" built modern America with their own blood, sweat, tears and a very tough work ethic.
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117 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on June 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating story about a man who may have become to the World War II generation what Joshua Chamberlain was to the Civil War: A quiet, competent, personable, spiritual and serious man who shows uncommon leadership under unforgiving circumstances. And what makes Dick Winters so special is how ordinary his life has been, before and after the war.

Most of the book covers the time period, story, and even the dialogue from Stephen Ambrose's and HBO's "Band of brothers". The first twelve chapters draw heavily from the written and video record produced by Ambrose and Tom Hanks, respectively. Ambrose did the important job of making this long, dangerous journey accessible to the American public. A storyteller, Ambrose had the intuition to find the elements of a story he needed to tell, and he made Dick Winters the focal character. Hanks, riding the success of "Saving Private Ryan," saw the substance in Ambrose's book. Ambrose feared for a brief time that Hanks wanted to play Winters in the HBO miniseries; Ambrose thought Hanks would be a better Herbert Sobel, the "chickens**t" officer who drove the men of Easy Company through much of their training. Fortunately, Hanks played neither. While Ambrose wrote the story and Hanks made the miniseries, Winters made it all possible. And "Biggest brother" provides the focus and intimacy that neither of these preceding works could.

There are some additional elements worth noting. Winters' 117 letters to Annie DeEtta Almon provide some detailed, contemporaneous memories. Also, we learn that Sobel tried to commit suicide in 1971; his family thinks he was mistreated in the book and miniseries. Winters continued to show disdain for Sobel years later.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kevin C. B. on June 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I hope this book doesn't get pigeonholed into a "Band of Brothers" also ran. It's not that kind of book at all. It was never meant to be. I don't know what book the previous reviewer read, but it seems pretty obvious to me, this book is about the life of Richard Winters, before, during, and after his service in WWII and not just a recap of his WWII service.

This man has lead a meaningful, and deep life, caring about not just HIS men, but his fellow humans. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty in following his own personal sense of duty and honor, time after time. I also don't fault him with the callousness of his treatment of german civilians during WWII, simply because they deserved it. It was also interesting, that Major Winters clarified that Pvt Blithe did not die in 1948 as portrayed by the mini-series, but instead made a career of the Army and died in 1967.

How Major Winters' life progressed after WWII was also a very interesting. He had been faced with limtied options after leaving Nixon Nitric Works, but he had prevailed over time, and learned enough to start a small yet prosperous business of his own after a short time in the animal feed industry.

His response to the public in the aftermath of "Band of Brothers" has been better than most people would handle such fame, and he has also gone out of his way time and again to reply to fan mail and uninvited visitors regarding himself and his friend's time in WWII. However, it seems very obvious, that this hero is near his end. He is very tired, and he wants to spend what little time he has left, in peace, with his family and diminishing circle of close friends without all the excess attention. I hope everyone that reads this book, respects those wishes.

Finally, I wish Major Winters the best, and an "Easy" Final Jump when he sees that green light one last time.
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