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Memoirs of a True American Hero of WWII
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.