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Liberation Road: A Novel of World War II and the Red Ball Express [Kindle Edition]

David L. Robbins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.01 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

With his acclaimed novels of World War II, David L. Robbins awakened a generation to the drama, tragedy, and heroism of some of history’s greatest battles. Now he delivers a gripping and authentic story set against one of our greatest wartime achievements: the Red Ball Express, six thousand trucks and twenty-three thousand men–most of them African-American–who forged a lifeline of supplies in the Allied struggle to liberate France.

June 1944. The Allies deliver a staggering blow to Hitler’s Atlantic fortress, leaving the beaches and bluffs of Normandy strewn with corpses. The Germans have only one chance to stop the immense invasion–by bottling up the Americans on the Cotentin Peninsula. There, in fields crisscrossed with dense hedgerows, many will meet their death while others will search for signs of life. Among the latter are two very different men, each with his own demons to fight and his own reasons to risk his life for his fellow man.

Joe Amos Biggs is an invisible “colored” driver in the Red Ball Express, the unheralded convoy of trucks that serves as a precious lifeline to the front. Delivering fuel and ammunition to men whose survival depends on the truckers, Joe Amos finds himself hungering to make his mark and propelled into battle among those who don’t see him as an equal–but will need him to be a hero.

A chaplain in the demoralized 90th Infantry, Rabbi Ben Kahn is a veteran of the first great war and old enough to be the father of the GIs he tends. Searching for the truth about his own son, a downed pilot missing in action, Kahn finds himself dueling with God, wading into combat without a gun, and becoming a leader among men in need of someone–anyone–to follow.

The prize: the liberation of Paris, where a ruthless American traitor known as Chien Blanc–White Dog–grows fat and rich in the black market. Whatever the occupied city’s destiny, destroyed or freed, he will win.

The fates of these three men will collide, hurtling toward an uncommon destiny in which people commit deeds they cannot foresee and can never truly explain.

From the screams of German .88 howitzers to the last whispers of dying young soldiers, Robbins captures war in all its awful fullness. And through the eyes of his unique characters, he leaves us with a mature, brilliant, and memorable vision of humanity in the face of inhumanity itself.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest WWII novel, Robbins powerfully integrates the theme of racial bigotry from Scorched Earth with the successful formula of his previous three combat novels (The End of War, etc.). The 688th Truck Battalion is part of the famed Red Ball Express, which struggles to supply the fast-moving combat following D-Day as American forces fight through the French hedgerows and villages toward Paris. In recounting the battalion's heroic saga, Robbins's tale unfolds from several perspectives—that of Ben Kahn, an aging Jewish army chaplain from Pittsburgh, who fought as a doughboy in the trenches in WWI; Joe Amos, a young, black, college-educated truck driver; and "White Dog," a shadowy, corrupt downed B-17 pilot profiteering on the black market in German-occupied Paris. Bolstered by desperate hope he might find his son—a B-17 pilot shot down over France—Kahn lands on Omaha Beach five days after D-Day and hitches a ride to the front on a GI two-and-a-half ton Jimmy (GMC truck) with Amos. Both men are quickly seasoned by the horrors of war as Kahn heads for a showdown in Paris and Amos makes sergeant and finds romance with a Frenchwoman after shooting down a German plane. Although this isn't quite up to the standard of Robbins's best work—it's occasionally slowed by overwriting and repetition—it's a fine effort from an ambitious storyteller.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Robbins--emerging as the Homer of WWII--re-creates the mighty drama in all its deadly beauty."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"David Robbins has done it again. In LIBERATION ROAD, he presents an inspirational WWII tale of personal courage and racial tension through the eyes of a rabbi chaplain and an African-American truck driver on the Red Ball Express--the twenty three thousand men manning the six thousand trucks that transported the beans and bullets needed to defeat Germany. A riveting read."
--James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers & Flyboys

"Powerful... a compelling tale of the final days of the most catastrophic event in tall of recorded history."
--Washington Post on The End of War
"Deeply-felt. Robbins renders his real people superbly but the heart of his story is his imagined cast. Brilliant storytelling by an author in absolute control of his material."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The End of War


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1033 KB
  • Print Length: 482 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 055338175X
  • Publisher: Bantam (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBEPC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,838 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanity & War January 25, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Although ardent fans of his eastern front trilogy might disagree, David Robbins' latest book strikes me as his finest story yet. It is appropriate that a national periodical described him as the "Homer of World War II." The pathos of war is timeworn, as old as the western literary tradition itself, but Robbins has captured the profundity of this subject in a manner that is fresh even as it is familiar. On the one hand, his prose is magnificent, his turn of the phrase certain to capture and enthrall. On the other, he has crafted characters with whom the reader can identify. We are privy to the hopes and fears of Ben Kahn and Joe Amos. They are people we know. These men are our neighbors. They live and they breathe. This is no mean feat given that both men speak to us across time and race. Moreover, both men have to compete with the larger story unfolding around them for our attention. Nevertheless, Robbins successfully weaves their two tales into one account that conveys as well the enormity of the allied drive on Paris in the summer of 1944. Anyone reading this book will come away from it with a better understanding of that crucial campaign, Robbins' research, as always, is superlative. More immediately, however, readers will be reminded that this great crusade was the sum of millions of individual accounts, most of which are lost in the maelstrom of history. In this work of fiction, Robbins has provided two such imagined histories, and left us with a universal story of humanity striving to assert itself in the face of mortal carnage and moral confusion. This book is a study of war, but most particularly, of the American experience of war. As such, it is also a commentary on the American character, on our inimitable national optimism, and the shadows that have darkened our national experience. I cannot recommend enough that you read it yourself, that you encourage your friends to do so as well, and that you leave your thoughts on the book in this forum.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I have to admit I was impressed with the erudition and the effort clearly on display in the review below. I normally don't write Amazon reviews, but I felt the opinion expressed prior to this should be countered. Mr. Robbins is a familiar author for many of us who love historical fiction; his prose is first quality and his research unquestioned and, I believe, on a par with no contemporary writer - you have to go back to a Leon Uris to find a writer who packs as much information and authenticity into his books as does Robbins. This being said, I disagree strongly with any contention that Liberation Road delivers less than a powerful punch. The reviewer who follows me seemed to feel cheated that Robbins spent time developing memorable and conflicted characters; apparently he wanted more blood and less heart. Robbins's books have always been a splendid combination of the two - action that resounds off the page combined with fine shavings of the human will to fight, survive, and, yes, even love. Liberation Road, after an exhilirating ride of grueling battles, swift heroism, deep historical context, and intense moral confusion, gave me a shattering ending to the novel. I did not see it coming and was moved to a real tear, something rare from a book or movie. This happened not because I was treated to just a cavalcade of action but because I was touched by the authenticity of the characters, their delimmas, and their pain. Read more ›
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Showboat' comes to Omaha Beach June 3, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Let me start off by saying I am very disappointed in David Robbins most recent effort. I found that it spent all of its time on the characters, who were stereotyped and who should be more irritated than the reader, that it pandered to issues both current and past in an effort to generate a 'lifetime channel' view of the simplicity of humans, and finally it nearly mocked the efforts of millions to target the flaws of a few.

OK. I recognize that to comment negatively on the enormously complex topics of racism and anti semitic behavior is foolish, certainly wrong, and insensitive. The WWII German treatment of its Jewish citizens is so horrific that it deserves solitary, focused treatment. Not third rate actors in a fourth rate story. I don't mean to do that here.

First of all, Mr. Robbins has written enormously popular novels. For what it's worth, I have given them 5 stars as have many others. To write historical fiction is a difficult task. If you stick to just the facts, you've just written another treatise, frequently aloof, often sacrificing the human pathos for statistics. On the other hand, you can change the facts and end up being accused of rewriting history. Also a blunder of mammoth proportions.

Here Mr. Robbins leaves the brilliance of his former trilogy about Stalingrad, Kursk and Berlin, and writes singularly of two characters, Joe Amos, an educated African American truck driver bringing supplies from the chaos of Omaha Beach to the front lines, and Rabbi Ben Kahn, struggling with his hatred of himself and the lives he took in the First World War and searching for his son, who unbeknownst to him has become a prominent black marketeer in occupied Paris. That's it. That's the story. Nothing more than that.

Was there racism in 1944? Yes. Hell.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A really fine story of the early days of the American invasion ...
A really fine story of the early days of the American invasion of France during WW2. It focuses on the landing of troops and materials on the beaches of Omaha and Utah after the... Read more
Published 5 days ago by PB
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book. Some history learned about an area of ...
Very good book. Some history learned about an area of the war I knew nothing about. And the title has more than one meaning. (At least four. Perhaps Mr. Robbins had more in mind?)
Published 23 days ago by Lugene A. Dorr M D
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 2 months ago by robb hermanson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read. I have only rated 4 stars since ...
Great read. I have only rated 4 stars since it isn't quite as fascinating as the last one I read on the Battle or Kursk. Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. B. Hopkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good reading esp. if you enjoy WWII HISTORY.
Published 3 months ago by David L. Shaw
2.0 out of 5 stars THIS WAS MY FIRST DAVID L ROBBINS NOVEL. I ...
THIS WAS MY FIRST DAVID L ROBBINS NOVEL. I WAS EXPECTING A FICTIONALIZED ACCOUNT OF THE RED BALL EXPRESS AND WAS SURPRISED BY THE RABBI PART OF THE NOVEL. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 5 months ago by Robert Lamoureux
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner by Robbins!
Great historical fiction! Tells the story of the Red Ball Express during WWII and the men that made it happen.
Published 6 months ago by joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening and Exciting
David Robbins continues to be one of my favorite authors and I think that I have read all of his books. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jim
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading
It is a good story but not one of his best. I would recommend it to others who enjoy the auther.
Published 21 months ago by Buff D. Jebsen-ross
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More About the Author

David L. Robbins was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 10, 1954. He grew up in Sandston, a small town east of Richmond out by the airport; his father was among the first to sit behind the new radar scope in the air traffic control tower. Both his parents, Sam and Carol, were veterans of WWII. Sam saw action in the Pacific, especially at Pearl Harbor.


In 1976, David graduated with a B.A. in Theater and Speech from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Having little actual theatrical talent, he didn't know what to do for a living. David decided to attend what he calls the "great catch-basin of unfocused over-achievers": law school. He received his Juris Doctorate at William and Mary in 1980, then practiced environmental law in Columbia, S.C. for precisely a year (his father demanded back the money for law school if David practiced for less than one year - he quit two weeks before the anniversary but got Sam to agree that the two weeks' vacation David had accumulated could be included). David decided to attend Psychology school, having an affinity for people's stories and a fascination with woe. However, while waiting for admisison in 1981, he began a successful freelance writing career. He began writing fiction in 1997, and has since published twelve novels. He's currently working on the thirteenth, the third in his U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen series, as well as several scripts for the stage and screen. He has won awards for his essays and screenplays, and has had three stage plays produced.


David is an accomplished guitarist, studying the works of James Taylor and Latin classical. At six feet six inches tall, he stays active with his sailboat, shooting sporting clays, weightlifting, traveling to research his novels. He is the founder of the James River Writers (Jamesriverwriters.org) a non-profit group in his hometown of Richmond that helps aspiring writers and students work and learn together as a writing community. He also co-founded The Podium Foundation (thepodiumfoundation.org), a non-profit which brings writing and critical reasoning programs to the students of Richmond's city high schools, as well as support programs for city educators. He also teaches advanced creative writing as a visiting professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Honors College. David resides in Richmond, near the James River.

To learn more, or to contact David, please go to authordavidlrobbins.com.

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