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Combat Jump: The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943 Hardcover – October 21, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on veteran interviews and backed by published sources, thissuspenseful history recounts the first paratrooper invasion inAmerican history. In July 1943, when Eisenhower was ordered to invadeSicily, he dropped the soldiers of the 505th Parachute InfantryRegiment behind enemy lines in order to prepare the way for hissubsequent naval assault. The paratrooper outfit endured ferociouscombat during the first four days of the campaign, combat that Ruggeroaccurately and vividly describes using the recollections of more than20 veterans of the 505th. The book is filled with reconstructedservice anecdotes and "army stories" of hair-raising combat behindenemy lines: soldiers against German tanks, soldiers against soldiershand to hand, and the desperate battle to hold Biazza Ridge againstattacking German tanks and infantry. James Gavin, the regiment'scharismatic commander and, later, an ambassador to France during theKennedy Administration, features prominently throughout the book. Thismini-biography is complemented by Ruggero's engaging backgroundhistories of the development of the paratrooper force in theU.S. Army, the training of paratroopers at Fort Benning and thedevelopment of the "airborne culture" in the U.S. Army. But themajority of the book focuses on the combat action surrounding of thejump itself, which was poorly executed by the Army Air Force anddropped many paratroopers far from their targets, leaving them to fendfor themselves. Readers in the market for good war stories would dowell to put this volume on their reading lists. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of ReedElsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It won't surprise dedicated military-history readers that Ruggero's new book is a winner. The author of two texts on leadership and five excellent novels is up to writing a good military-unit study if anyone is. The unit in focus is the 505th Airborne Infantry: its organization, training, and combat debut in Sicily in July 1943. The training reflected highly on the regiment's CO, Colonel James Gavin, later a lieutenant general and one of the unsung heroes of World War II. But no amount of good training could completely counter the bad weather, faulty navigation, and limited intelligence that eventuated in the jumpers fighting Tiger tanks with bazookas. Scattered as it was, the 505th reorganized and carried out its mission, in the process so disorganizing German units that they could not carry out theirs. Its casualties were serious, but its success won paratroopers a permanent place in the American arsenal. Ruggero's thorough research, including interviews with many survivors, and excellent writing earn this book a permanent place in any WWII collection. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (October 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060088753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060088750
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,109,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ed Ruggero's "Combat Jump" is a wonderfully written and engaging piece of story-telling! Based mainly upon interviews with veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division (most specifically members of the 505th PIR), Ruggero has crafted a real page turner that takes the reader from the initial theoretical ideals of American Airborne forces to the first major combat - the Sicilian invasion of 1943 - seen by the fruits of the imaginative "fathers of the Airborne". Particularly interesting is the description of how initial concepts of the US Airborne Army were brought to fruition, and how a young West Point Captain, James ("Slim Jim") M. Gavin, played into these early events. Gavin is of course central to the entire story of the 82nd as he was a company commander in the 503rd PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) during training at Fort Benning, later regimental commander of the 505th PIR on its jump into Sicily and combat through Italy, and finally division commander of the 82nd Airborne (promoted to this post in August '44). While initially not of rank and stature to play a significant role in pushing the Airborne concept into reality, "Slim Jim" was certainly a major player in keeping the Airborne on the map - this is exemplified by his leadership of the 505th in the Sicilian campaign, which is so eloquently relayed here in "Combat Jump". It is the strong and steadfast picture of Gavin as a commander leading from the front that comes shinning through in "Combat Jump". It is no wonder that the US Airborne Army succeeded (in spite of many perceived tactical failures and let downs) with man like Gavin at the helm! Ruggero should be commended for bringing to life again the larger than life character that was Jim Gavin.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I've been fascinated by paratroopers since watching Band of Brothers on HBO and reading the late Stephen Ambrose's book that inspired this series. During one of the episodes of Band of Brothers, as the 101st Airborne is headed for Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, while the regular infantry is hightailing it to the rear, one of the members of Easy company explains why they're headed toward the sound of the guns when American forces are on the way to being surrounded: "paratroopers are always surrounded." My own terror in jumping from the parachute tower at Fort Benning also feeds my respect for paratroopers: they are among the best troops the U.S. produces. Combat Jump tells you why: the rigorous physical training, far more demanding than regular soldiers; the fighting spirit often manifest in rebellious trouble-making prior to deploying, and disdain for Army regulations and routine. Airborne history tends to focus on the later jump on D-Day. This book gives the scoop on the first major U.S. deployment of airborne, when the concept of using entire divisions of paratroopers was still in doubt. The author has done his research homework, yet tells a lively story of the personalities such as Colonel Jim Gavin, commander of the unit responsible for capturing a key crossroads to protect the regular Army's beach landings in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Few books focus on the airborne in this particular battle. It is entirely appropriate that airborne forces have such an outstanding reputation. This book tells the reader why, even from the initial use of mass formations of paratroopers, such a reputation is well deserved.
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Format: Hardcover
Led by Legendary Colonel Jumpin' Jim Gavin, 3500 paratroopers jumped into the darkness on July 9th, 1943. "Combat Jump" by Ed Ruggero is the story of these young men who lead the assault into fortress Europe.
225 transports, 35 miles an hour wind, Mr. Ruggero describes in vivid detail with superior writing the incredible mission of the 82nd Airborne spread out over 60 miles, no where near their DZ (drop zone) in Sicily.
Their mission almost becomes secondary! You do not have to be an aficionado of World War II, to follow Mr. Ruggero's writings. You will come to know Jim Gavin, Jack Norton, and Ed Sayre...their mission, bravery, and most of all... their brotherhood.
I cried when I read the Epilog....watched Seinfeld, re-read the Epilog, and cried some more.
A must read.
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Format: Paperback
Combat Jump tells the tale of the 82nd Airborne (specifically the 505th Parachute Regiment) as the prepared for and jumped into Sicily in WWII. In the tale, Mr. Ruggero tells of the forming of the 505th, their charismatic young commander (James Gavin), veterans of the unit that made the jump, and the veteran's tales of what happened during their assault on Sicily. Mr. Ruggero gives excellent background information on the different veterans, including their occupations prior to joining the Army, what they did in the Army (including in their time with the 505th), and their remembrances of this event.

The early part of the book is excellently crafted. I was seriously looking at this as being a 4.5 star book, but when the jump was made, several problems occurred with his telling; first, the stories jump all over the map. Mr. Ruggero's following of the invasion of Sicily is as scattered as the 505th was! I really wish he'd followed a little more structure with things. If he had, I'd have found the book much more pleasant to read. Having said that, I really wish he'd had a few maps included so readers were aware of where he was talking about on Sicily. Maps really help with history books (publishers, please pay the extra nickels to have a few maps in the books. It really makes the books more buyable!). Finally, Mr. Ruggero needed to have a nice wrap up of what happened to the 505th after their initial jump. Instead, Mr. Ruggero closes with the unit being relieved...

My rating... as said earlier, I was really hoping for 4.5 stars, however after reading the later parts, I have to rate the book 3.5 stars overall. I rounded it up to 4 stars for Amazon.
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