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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.
The popular new release from Simon Sebag Montefiore. Learn more
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
A great first hand account of what war in the European Theater was like. For the reader who prefers personal experience stories, this is as good as you could ask for. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Tom Finley
Great story (all true), and a challenge to put down. If you like stories about D-day and the men who in it, get this book. Read morePublished 15 days ago by rich
A fantastic story. Makes you feel you are there with them at the time. Really gripping and more exciting to read than watching a movie. Read morePublished 17 days ago by John Townsend
It brought to life an infantry officers perspective of European theater.Published 20 days ago by caleb darby