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The Deadly Brotherhood: The American Combat Soldier in World War II Mass Market Paperback – August 26, 2003
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“Gripping . . . These men were common warriors who fought with uncommon courage and thus shaped the destiny of our great nation.”
—FORMER SENATOR BOB DOLE
“A RIVETING AND EXTREMELY WELL-RESEARCHED ANALYSIS OF THE VIOLENT WORLD FACED BY THE AMERICAN GI DURING WORLD WAR II . . . Anyone who wishes to understand the experience of our citizen army of fifty years ago should read this book. Highest recommendation.”
Author of Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific
“Do you want to know what the World War II foot soldier felt and how he fought? What he ate and how he liked it? What his life was like during periods he was not in combat? The Deadly Brotherhood goes a long way towards answering such questions. . . . Each chapter contains a wealth of supporting comments. This approach produces an extreme degree of authenticity. . . . This fine book provides a comprehensive understanding of a World War II infantryman’s troubles and travails.”
“An exciting, moving book told in the words of those men who actually fought the enemy face-to-face on the front lines—the infantry, combat engineers, armor, and Marines; those unfortunate souls for whom war was a minute-by-minute struggle against terrifying odds.”
—E. B. SLEDGE
Author of With the Old Breed
Look for these thrilling books of American heroism at war
We Led the Way
by William O. Darby
with William H. Baumer
The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II
by Belton Y. Cooper
True Tales of Combat and Adventure
by Richard C. Kirkland
WOODBINE RED LEADER
A P-51 Mustang Ace in the Mediterranean Theater
by George Loving
From the Inside Flap
In his book Men Against Fire, [historian S. L. A.] Marshall asserted that only 15 to 25 percent of American soldiers ever fired their weapons in combat in World War II. . . .
Shooting at the enemy made a man part of the team, or brotherhood. There were, of course, many times when soldiers did not want to shoot, such
as at night when they did not want to give away a position or on reconnaissance patrols. But, in the main, no combat soldier in his right mind would have deliberately sought to go through the entire ear without ever firing his weapon, because he would have been excluded from the brotherhood but also because it would have been detrimental to his own survival. One of [rifle company commander Harold] Leinbaughs NCOs summed it up best when discussing Marshall: Did the SOB think we
clubbed the Germans to death?
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That is a great value of this book. It gets down into the nitty-gritty that war or battle overviews, even memoirs, don't always discuss in great detail. While anyone who has read anything on the European Theatre probably knows about the deadly German 88, what about the other weapons, and those used by the Japanese? How did they compare to the American weapons? It does a very good job of examining different aspects of being a US soldier and building to a whole.
While it can sometimes seem repetitive, a lot of soldiers saying basically the same thing over and over, that is actually an important point. Whether in Africa, Italy, Europe, the South Pacific, the Central Pacific, GI or Marine, there is a remarkable consistency to the experiences. Some may be unique to the Pacific or Med/Europe, but there are common threads to all the experiences. And while they may not be surprising (war is horrible), it is something to read in the words of the men themselves. You get a true sense of the misery experienced by so many.
There is one big caveat. And it is huge. While the theme of "a soldier fights for his buddies" comes through loud and clear, I think he takes this notion way too far. Reading the words of the veterans, it is obvious that while in the foxhole, there is little on their mind other than survival and his comrades. Not flag or even home. However, he makes the claim that the wars outcome (victory or defeat) "meant little to the men if they didn't survive to see the outcome". That is a hogwash that almost undoes the whole book. It goes against so many other things said by so many other veterans about why they volunteered or why they fought. To me, there is a clear distinction about why they went to war, and then what they thought of when they were in the trenches. Men found the courage to do what they did because of their buddies, but they did what they did because of the values they had as US citizens. This point can not be emphasized enough. That is why it loses a star. That sentence stands out like a huge, hairy mole on an otherwise pretty face. Ignore this, and you have a five star book for someone new to WW2 history. If you have read a lot on WW2 history, you may be able to skip, but found it worth the read.
This, along with Marshall and his Generals and The Admirals would be great places for anyone to begin their WW2 study. As long as you can ignore the mole.
The Deadly Brotherhood: The American Combat Soldier in World War II is divided into two major parts: 1) 'The World of the Combat Soldier' and 2) "The Soul of the Combat Soldier'. In the first part McManus systematically leads the reader through a description of who the 'citizen soldiers' were who formed the US Army in WWII; how they trained, what they ate, and their instruments of trade; what is was like to fight in Europe vs Asia; what the fighting was like; and what it was like becoming a casualty. All of this is done through first-person stories and insightful analysis by McManus. In the second part of the book McManus tries to give the reader a sense of who the American GI was on a human level, how his morals influenced how and why he fought, how his prejudices influenced his fighting, and why the 'brotherhood' of the average infantry grunt is so important to survival and success. It is in this second section of the book that McManus really truly excels and is likely to hook the more studious.
All in all this is a 4.5 star book for content and prose. Highly recommended, especially to serious students of WWII, military history and battle performance.