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If You Survive: From Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge to the End of World War II, One American Officer's Riveting True Story Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1987
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From the Inside Flap
So promised George Wilson's World War II commanding officer in the hedgerows of Normandy -- and it was to be a promise dramatically fulfilled. From July, 1944, to the closing days of the war, from the first penetration of the Siegfried Line to the Nazis' last desperate charge in the Battle of the Bulge, Wilson fought in the thickest of the action, helping take the small towns of northern France and Belgium building by building.
Of all the men and officers who started out in Company F of the 4th Infantry Division with him, Wilson was the only one who finished. In the end, he felt not like a conqueror or a victor, but an exhausted survivor, left with nothing but his life -- and his emotions.
If You Survive
One of the great first-person accounts of the making of a combat veteran, in the last, most violent months of World War II.
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Top Customer Reviews
Three things really struck me about this book; 1. The author's uncanny memory of events, 2. The events themselves - offering glimpses into every aspect of being a ground soldier, including bravery, strategy, stupidity, cowardice and tragedy. 3. The shocking carnage.
The book's title is derived from a comment a superior officer made to the author before sending him off to battle shortly after the Normandy D-day invasion; "As officers, I expect you to lead your men. Men will follow leaders and I expect my platoon leaders to be right up front. Losses could be very high. Use every skill you possess. If you survive your first battle, I'll promote you. Good luck." With that mortifying send-off, author George Wilson and his fellow officers were sent into battle. Out of all the officers and men starting out in his company, only Wilson finished.
The book presents the author's brave, bloody journey in a straight-forward linear fashion. It is very well written, yet not burdened by attempts at literary greatness. The author, though clearly licensed to preach, spares us the sermon and simply tells it like it was.
Not until the very end of the book does he tell you "Out of all this damned useless war I hope I am entitled to a few simple observations". What follows is a decidedly brief statement that may at first seem to be too brief. Only after reading the last line do you realize that you've already read the most important anti-war statement the author could make; his recollections in the previous 267 pages.
George Wilson was never given the decorations or the field promotion he had been promised.
It's amazing that Wilson could write such a detailed history forty years after the events occurred, but maybe even more amazing that he doesn't embellish the situations. There is little reflection on an event because he's off describing the next firefight or lost buddy.
The most frustrating parts of the book were seeing raw officers replacing fallen soldiers rather than promoting the battle proven officers in the field. It was not only unfair, but unsafe and yet the bigwigs away from the fighting didn't know the difference.
The title refers to a commander who told Wilson before he went into battle that he'd be promoted if he survived. The promotions were slower coming than his successes and yet the war is such a long way away from this retired insurance salesman that he doesn't seem that upset about his treatment. It turned out to be the experience of his life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book. Not much emotion, just kind of states the facts about one man career in a bad war.Published 18 hours ago by Jason Marth
I have read most of the major authors on WWII and this is the best, written from the trenches.
Word by word, this is a man's story of survival, death and instinct to live another minute, live another day. How our brave solders walked right into the killing zone. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Sir Ray Charles
I am giving this book to my son for his birthday (2-22) so I can't rate it at this time.Published 6 days ago by Jo Ann
Wonderful book; right up there with BAND OF BROTHERS and any of the excellent books on Easy Company (particularly by or about Major Richard Winters). Read morePublished 8 days ago by Marigold
Books like these are great for History. It is too bad that our schools don't know what happened in the past and see what a proud nation we are who love freedom and see the... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Robert C. Vaillancourt
Great book about an amazing first-hand account. When the author left the army, he left without a pension or recognition for doing the nearly impossible: surviving the push toward... Read morePublished 11 days ago by J. Darlington