From Publishers Weekly
A retired journalist and the author of several biographies of military heroes, Jeffers (Ace of Aces: The Life of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker
) combines a bare-bones life of World War II hero Col. William O. Darby and a battle history of the legendary unit he organized and led. After a cursory account of Darby's Arkansas boyhood and West Point education, the author quickly gets to the war and Darby's appointment to head a newly created infantry battalion modeled on the British army's Commandos. Christened the 1st Ranger Battalion, the unit underwent months of arduous training in Scotland before being tapped to spearhead the Allied invasion of Algeria in 1942. Expanded to a three-battalion Ranger force and anointed "Darby's Rangers" by war correspondents who "found good copy in them," the Rangers led the subsequent invasions of Sicily and Italy. In an attempt to break out at Anzio, Darby's Rangers were surrounded and almost completely annihilated by German forces. Darby was reassigned and later killed in action. Relying primarily on secondary sources, Jeffers has written a spotty but serviceable introduction to one of World War II's most storied units and the hero who led them. (July)
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Journalist-turned-military-historian Jeffers here offers a useful, up-to-date study of Colonel William O. Darby of World War II Ranger fame. Artilleryman Darby was inspired by the British Commandos to organize a select force of infantry that would specialize in razing and infiltration. Charismatic and courageous, Darby led from in front of his fighters in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Like many military mavericks, he was no stickler for the niceties of traditional military discipline. Hence, the brass didn't exactly love him. But by the time he was killed in action in Italy near the end of the war, the Rangers' record spoke for itself and argued powerfully for founding the Special Forces and other postwar elite units. May this admirably nontechnical book revive interest in an undeservedly forgotten soldier. Green, Roland