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on February 6, 2003
In this book, General Gavin tells the story of the "All-American" 82d Airborne Division during WWII. He is best suited to provide this history since he served with the Division during its entire participation in the European Campaign, starting as a Regimental Commander with the 505th to eventually commanding the unit.
General Gavin gives a detailed description of all the operations the 82d participated in during WWII, and adds his analysis of why certain things went well for his unit, while other things were a struggle. I found his analysis of the German's lack of will to particpate in hand-to-hand combat fascinating. Especially since I have not seen this perspective in other WWII books that I have read. Additionally, he provides insight into the Allied command structure and the challenges it faced.

I really enjoyed this book because General Gavin provides a unique perspective of the war, much different than other general officers. Due to the nature of airborne operations, Gavin personally experienced the harshness and challenges of WWII combat. Additionally, he participated in numerous high-level planning sessions with other well-known leaders of the Allied Command. Thus, he can connect the cause and effect of how strategic decisions influenced the actual combat operations in the ETO. General Gavin also gives his analysis of the Allied decision to concede Berlin to the Russians - pretty interesting stuff, especially given the long-term impact that this decision had on world events.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII history. For those wanting to learn more about the 82d, or airborne operation - this is required reading. If General Bradley is known as the Soldier's General, then General Gavin should be known as the Paratroopers General. No one knew airborne operations better, and no general had a greater influence on his men and the battles they fought than "Jumping Jim" Gavin.
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on June 4, 2002
On to Berlin is possibly the best autobiography on WWII, right up there with Hans von Luck's Panzer Commander. Gavin was with the 82nd Airborne during all of the war, from Sicily, to Salerno, D-Day, Holland, the "Bulge" and the Hurtgen forest. He is excellent in describing the operations of the 82nd as it fought it's way through Normandy and Operation Market Garden, and tells the forgotten story of the 82nd during the Battle of the Bulge, for which the 101st usually gets the glory. Gavin also discusses the development of Airborne warfare, from early troubles in Sicily to the massive drop over Holland. He also talks about his disagreements with Eisenhower for playing politics with the British and thus prolonging the war. As the youngest general of the war, he was bold, decisive and brilliant in his tactics. Known as the "Jumpin' General", Gavin always accompanied his troops into battle and always was at the front line. I highly recommend this book. The reader will get to know one the real great heroes of World War Two, who doesn't get nearly enough credit for all he accomplished.
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on July 19, 2000
Gavin tells the story of the 82 Airborne and what a story! He confirms what was so clear in the biography, Paratrooper, that a general needs to be on the battlefield to see first hand what the situation and terrain are like before he can establish and direct a good battle plan. His wisdom about this and his talent in leadership is what made the 82 Airborne arguably the most successful fighting unit of the war. He was in fact the nation's best battlefield general.. Not only does he describe what actually happened in some of the Wars greatest battles but he critiques and evaluates the major events and decisions in a way that convinces most of us that his reputation is well deserved. By the way, he takes Eisenhower to task for his affair with Kay Summersby but piously says nothing about his liaisons with Marlene Dietrich and other women.
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on April 6, 2002
I was not too sure of the book when I picked it up, but once I started reading I found it very interesting. The details of the relationship (or lack there of) between Patton and Montgomery are very interesting. How the Allies kept it together with these two ego's leading is a credit to Eisenhower. I also enjoyed the details of the Italy campaign, one part of the war that is not covered much. The descriptions of the battles in Berlin prompted me to get a few books on the topic. Overall this is a good book, it does not have the "Black Hawk Down" battle descriptions, but it does deliver a very well written history of the experiences of the Airborne. The author did a solid job.
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on May 24, 1999
The autor , James M Gavin takes you all the way from Sicilli to Berlin. He let's you see the enormous problems where the American Airborne divisions have to deal with. He also gives you an idea of the struggles to keep the aliance together and he tell's you the problems between Patton and Montgommery
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on September 17, 2015
Excellent book on leadership Up Front with the troops. A WW II vet from the 82nd told me a story that one day in Holland Gavin jumped into his foxhole and took a few shots at the Germans - which hit their mark. Gavin's comment was that he needed to keep his shooting eye up to par or words to that effect! I especially liked his commentary about the Kall Trail given on a tour I stood on the trail and the bridge he was describing in his text!
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on January 18, 2010
James M. Gavin, Soldier, West Pointer, "would be flyer", Airborne Pioneer, WW2 General, Ambassador, and ladies man. This truly self-made man was an orginial. There will never be another one like him. He led from the front. He also was responsible for the distruction ot the 551 Parachute Infantry Battalion (See Gregory Orfalea's "Messengers of the Lost Battalion: The Heroic 551st and the Turning of the Tide at the Battle of the Bulge) which he is alleged to have covered up. He is also alleged to have bedded Marlene Dietrich, and Jackie O. In 1972 there was talk of Gavin as a GOP presidental candidate. Gavin was a liberal Republican and JFK confidant... I read this book many years ago and still own it. Gavin was a brilliant tactician and leader. He was also politically liberal in his writing and forward thinking. However, make no mistake, he was a solid patriot and true "American Hero". His historical recolection is very percise and insightful. I recommend Gavin's "War and Peace in the Space Age" from 1958. and "Crisis Now" from 1968. For further reading, on the General's life I also recommend Thomas Booth's "Paratrooper: The Life of Gen James M. M Gavin" and Gerard Devlin's "Paratrooper" (A complete histroy of American airborne forces in WW2).
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on August 4, 2013
I suggest you read my review of "Paratrooper" Gavin's biography. This is the war in Gavin's own words. One of my first reads when I became interested in Airborne Warfare (greatly enhanced after becoming a paratrooper myself). Another "Must Have" for a serious student's library.
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on December 2, 2006
Generally, I'm not a great fan of the autobiographys of Generals and commanders, they can often by rather dry and lack any real insight. But James Gavin's book is a wonderful exception to the rule. It has two distinct advantages 1) Gavin was present at many high-level meetings in WWII so his thoughts on Eisenhower, Montgomery and the strategic plans for Sicily, Normandy and Market-Garden are insightful and enlightening. 2) Unlike some commanders, Gavin was very much a combat leader, so in additional to the high-level meetings, he also put time in at the sharp end - dodging bullets, running from fox-hole to fox-hole and actually fighting alongside his men.

So it's his varied experiences that make this such a great read, it's not a politcal memoir or a combat journal - in many ways it's both.

Highly recommended
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on April 16, 2014
...in the company of soldiers where all were humble men doing a job they were sent to do. I have always been struck how this group of men relied on on another to get the job done.
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