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Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich Paperback – October 29, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Webster was definitely not your average GI. An English major at Harvard, he could have spent World War II as an officer or in a combat support branch. Instead, he volunteered to serve as a combat infantryman in the new U.S. Army airborne forces. His desire to fight the Nazis was more than fulfilled through combat jumps on D-Day and later behind German lines. Himself wounded, Webster buried more than a few of his close friends. Although all personal narratives of combat possess common themes and follow predictable paths, they invariably draw the reader into their world of common suffering, shared joy, collective terror, and appalling inhumanity. Webster brings this world alive for the reader. A useful supplement to Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers (LJ 5/15/92), which told the story of Webster's parachute unit. For comprehensive World War II collections in academic and public libraries. [See also World War II: 50 Years After D-Day, LJ 4/ 1/94, p. 110-11.]-John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, N.Y.
--John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

It's a mystery why these splendid reminiscences of a gentleman ranker who served with the US Army's 101st Airborne Division in Europe during the climactic months of WW II were rejected by book publishers following their completion in the late 1940s. However, the frequently sardonic, dead-honest text proves well worth waiting for. A Harvard student before his induction, Webster signed on with the parachute infantry, a posting that earned him the privilege of dropping behind German lines early on D-day, long hours before Allied forces launched their coastal assault on France's Normandy Peninsula. Having survived the invasion and its aftermath, the author made his second and last combat jump into Holland for the Arnem campaign, during which he sustained a leg wound that took him out of action for nearly five months. Rejoining his unit at the start of 1945, Webster helped chase the battered but still deadly Wehrmacht through the Rhineland and into Bavaria. At war's end he and his comrades-in-arms were drinking Hitler's champagne in Bertchtesgaden, the Fhrer's fabled Alpine redoubt. Occupation duty soon palled, however, and the author pulled all available strings to get himself stateside for demobilization. Webster, who went on to become a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, penned his memoir shortly after discharge, drawing mainly on letters he had written from Europe. A permanent private with the soul of a short- timer, he had many complaints about the chain of command, in particular its propensity for thoroughly briefing the troops before any action and leaving them in the dark once the shooting started. He also understood that the ties that bind men in battle have more to do with brotherhood and its obligations than either God or country. Webster's words will ring a resonant bell with the legions of GIs who rather enjoyed soldiering under fire but despised the military for its chickenshit rigidity. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Rev Rep edition (October 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336499
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By George G. Kiefer on February 22, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
then this is an excellent book. David Webster is at times introspective, bitter, proud, angry and, like all combat troops, depressed and frightened. On more than one occasion the reader wonders why he volunteered in the first place. But his story is so convincingly told, so personal, that the reader experiences the same conflicting emotions. This narrative of a paratroop over Normandy and beyond, fills a gap left in most other accounts of the airdrop on the western flank of Overlord. Webster masterfully moves the reader with him, dressing out for the big jump. Assignments are reviewed, equipment is explained in detail, the movement of men on to the tarmac by truck, the numbness over the Channel, the searchlights probing the night skies and, finally before the jump, the hellish flack. Realism is maintained throughout the work as much of it was based on letters written during the war and recollections reduced to writing shortly after the war.
This book and bits of it are mentioned in Stephen Ambrose's excellent "Band of Brothers".
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Paul H. on September 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kenyon, as he calls himself in his letters home, wrote a fascinating experience of the Second World War and the now legendary 506 PIR. This book differs from so many other first person texts in that it is written by a man with a fair amount of education prior to the war and based on the content of his letters home to his parents, Kenyon was not from a stereotypical 1930's family.

He doesn't write about incredibly fierce combat, indeed the most intense experience he relates is his experience in Holland. He claims to have only killed one German soldier for sure but, after seeing the Lager system, wishes he had killed more.

He has little love for the French, loved the Dutch and had a grudging respect for the German people. And his tales of his comrades and the friendships and intense loyalties with his squad mates make it clear what esprite de corps really arises from.

This book is masterfully written and a pleasure to read. After reading this text I am tempted to order Webster's book on sharks because I am sure it would be a pleasure to read.

If you like personal tales and are not looking for a definitive history of the 101st AirBorne (of which there are plenty written), then this book is as good as it gets.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
David Kenyon Webster's personal account of the D-day invasion and the fall of the Third Reich is beautifully written and completely captivating. Though he did jump in Normandy on D-Day, and saw the war to the end, his actual combat experience was somewhat limited. He recalls only one definite kill, a retreating German soldier who was thought to be a runner. Webster admits that this action was one of the few times he ever fired his rifle in combat. For Webster, the real war was fought inside his mind, as he tried to find a personal acceptance and justification for being in the army and fighting in WWII. He starts the text by stating that in a letter to his mother, he tells her that the Germans must be brutally beaten and destroyed in their homeland, for that was the only way to ensure that they would never again try to wage war on the world. He later changes his mind by saying that he never believed in the war, and that the army was the most ineffeciantely run organization in the world. After liberating the concentration camps, Webster again admits that the war was necessary. He also toils with his love-hate relationship with the army. Though he constantly cursed the army, he closes by saying that he would not trade his experience for anything in the world. He was glad to be a part of WWII. Webster had his reasons for hating the army, but it should be noted that thousands of other soldiers felt that their military life was very gradifying and comfortable, and they were glad to have the experience. Many WWII soldiers say that the army (service) made them better people. With a negative and sometimes hateful tone, Webster vividly recounts his experiences. This book is a must read for anybody who is interested in learning what many soldiers were thinking and saying as they participated in the largest military invasion in history.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you have read and enjoyed Band of Brothers by Steven Ambrose and/or have seen the HBO mini-series, then this book is a must read! The author, David Kenyon Webster, is one of the "Band of Brothers" and is the main character in episode eight, "The Last Patrol". This book is a fast paced, sometimes humorous, and often moving account of the late Mr. Webster's experiences during WW II. If you can imagine reading "Band of Brothers" had it been wriiten by one of the participants, that will give you an idea of what this book is like. Some elements of the Band of Brothers mini-series were obviously taken directly from Mr. Webster's book, and I thought he should have received more recognition in the credits.
On another note, Mr. Webster could not get this book published while he was alive, because back then, publishers were looking for more "sensational" fictional war novels. What could be more sensational than jumping into France on D-day or jumping into Holland during Operation: Market-Garden? It was not published until 1994 during the revived public interest in WW II triggered by the 50th anniversery of D-Day.
Thank you Mr. Webster - we are in your debt!
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