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The Simple Sounds of Freedom : The True Story of the Only Soldier to Fight for Both America and the Soviet Union in World War II Hardcover – September 17, 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is the riveting story of Joe Beyrle's amazing World War II odyssey. An unassuming kid from Muskegon, MI, who joined the famed 506th regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (called the Screaming Eagles), Joe proved to be a tough paratrooper who made two secret drops into France months before D-day. But like many of his comrades, he was left alone and disoriented in the French countryside after his D-day drop. He was captured, escaped, was recaptured, and underwent a vicious interrogation that led to a cracked skull. He was then thrown into a boxcar full of American POWs and shipped east. Thus began a hellish journey that eventually led to his escaping the German stalags and joining a Soviet tank battalion on the eastern front making him the only soldier to have fought in both the U.S. and Soviet armies. Incredibly, this is the first time Beyrle's story has been made public, and Taylor tells it with true "Airborne" pride. Taylor himself is a highly decorated Screaming Eagle of the Vietnam era whose father was Gen. Maxwell Taylor, the legendary leader of the 101st during the European campaign. Taylor skillfully intermixes Joe's ordeal with the 101st's battles against the Germans, from D-day to Bastogne. He has carefully corroborated the details of Joe's adventures with other POWs and available documents. Fortunately, Beyrle is still alive to enjoy the recognition his unbounded courage deserves. This book belongs in all World War II collections. Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The hero of this as-told-to war memoir, Joseph Beyrle, was fortunate to have survived World War II. A paratrooper in the famed 506th Paratroop Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, the unit featured in the Band of Brothers book (1992) and movie, Beyrle's is predominantly a POW story. Before capture, the then 18-year-old had jumped twice into France to deliver money to the Resistance, but his war took a worse turn when he was captured on D-Day. Taylor (the son of the 101st's commander, Maxwell Taylor) seemingly transmits the ensuing account as-is, not doubting improbable details; indeed, Taylor positively requests of the reader a "small indulgence . . . for accuracy of times and places." He then relates an incredible odyssey of Beyrle's escape attempts, survival in several POW camps, and ultimate escape to the advancing Russians, with whom he volunteered to fight and was subsequently wounded. Despite the presentation's compositional bumpiness, it carries Beyrle's courageous war mettle directly to the avid audience for stories concerning the legendary 101st. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st Printing edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507861
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Several years ago I read parts of Joe Beyrle's memoir, translated into Russian for the gazette Sovietskaya Zhizn'. "The Simple Sounds of Freedom" contains Joe's entire memoir and his exciting biography by Thomas Taylor. Mr. Taylor, a veteran and historian of the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles", is the perfect choice to tell Joe's story. Joe Beyrle was a small-town boy in 1942, gung-ho to prove the patriotism of his German-American family. He joined the Screaming Eagle "Currahees", and made a couple of harrowing jumps into occupied France to aid the Resistance. That was in preparation for the big day, D Day. Alas, Joe was captured almost as he touched ground in Normandy and missed his chance to fight. He survived beatings upon arrival at a POW camp, only to experience a most painful sight: the bullet-riddled body of his beloved CO, Robert Wolverton, hanging from a tree. Laughing guards were using the slain Currahee for bayonet practice. Later escaping, Joe was caught, tortured, and interned in a notorious concentration camp, Stalag 111-C. There he saw miserable Soviet prisoners, segregated, starved, freezing, worked to death. There was little the American krieges could do for them, except throw some bread over their fence on occasion. Again, Joe plotted escape, and finally succeeded, although two of his buddies perished in the attempt. In his emaciated condition, trapped behind enemy lines, Joe hoped to be rescued by the advancing Red Army. Meanwhile, at home in Muskegon, his family had received word of their son's "death in action" and were grieving his supposed loss. These events are interwoven in the book with the overall campaign of the 101st Airborne.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I found the story of Joe Beyrle to be almost unbelieveable. How could one person go through so much. I was very anxious to read the book, because I once knew who he was from work. I worked at Brunswick Corporation in Muskegon, as did he. I knew that he was a prisoner of war, and that he had been reported killed in action. However, I didn't know that whole story until now. Many of the comments about Muskegon as familiar to me. Also, I once met his parents, as I am friends with his niece.
Thomas Taylor is an excellent writer. He knows how to make the story interesting, and provides much detail. Even though many of the incidents in the story are not pleasant, they are a part of history. He depicts World War II as brutal and horrible. Let us hope that it never happens again.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Simple Sounds Of Freedom" by Thomas H. Taylor, Random House, New York 2002. The title of the book is derived from President Clinton's speech in France on the fiftieth anniversary of D Day.
This is a biography of Joe Beyrle but the book is also a record of praise for the 101st Airborne. Joe Beyrle, from Michigan, was part of the 101st Airborne when that division dropped into Normandy on D-Day, 1944. He was captured, escaped, capture again and shipped off to a German POW camp. After one escape, he is captured in Berlin, the capital city of the Third Reich; he is tortured by Gestapo. Joe is rescued from the Gestapo by the German Army, the Wehrmacht, of all people, who claim him as their prisoner. They were following bureaucratic procedures, a common trait in Nazi Germany. After regaining his strength, Joe Beyrle again escapes, and this time, he is close enough to reach the relative safety of Soviet lines. After identifying himself as an American, Joe decides to stay with the Soviet armored column in order to kill Germans. Thus, he fights on both the Western and Eastern fronts in Europe in 1944-1945, fulfilling the sub-title of the book, "...Only Soldier to Fight For Both America and the Soviet Union in World War II".
As a 101st Airborne combat veteran himself, the author was capable of an excellent job of bonding with Joe Beyrle, so as to produce an almost personal memoir direct from the Joe's memories. At times, it was difficult to distinguish between Beyrle and Taylor. At other times, particularly in Chapter Sixteen, entitled, "Bastogne", it was evident that it was all Thomas Taylor writing in praise of the division he loves, the 101st.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the fascinating story of Joe Beyrle of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles in WWII, written by Thomas Taylor, a Vietnam era Screaming Eagle and the son of the commanding general of the 101st in WWII. Beyrle jumped into Normandy on D-Day and was captured by the Germans. He escapes and is re-captured several times before he joins a Soviet armored unit and fights the Nazis until the end of the war. This is the story of his suffering and triumph over adversity in many situations and circumstances.
It is an inspiring tale of survival and the human quest for freedom. This book is a page turner and I highly recommend it to all.
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Format: Hardcover
I met Mr. Joe Beyrle at the 101st Airborne, 506th (five-oh-Sink) reunion in Toccoa, Georgia 2002. When looking at Mr. Beyrle, he seemed not too different from the rest of the men in the room who also proudly served in the airborne and had seen their fair share of events from WWII, however Mr. Beyrle had a past that too few knew about. Despite the fact that Mr. Beyrle was presented medals at the white house by both former U.S. president Clinton and former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, and the fact that he is the only confirmed U.S. soldier to have ever fought for both the U.S. Army and the Soviet Army against Nazi soldiers in WWII is of little knowledge to anyone in the world.

The simple fact is the Mr. Beyrle is the very definition of a war hero. He is the character you play in video games and the action figure in the toy stores. The events of his experience in WWII are seemingly unbelievable, yet confirmed.

Coming to public light for the first time in writing is the full account of his experiences in WWII. The fact that he fought for both the U.S. Army and with the Soviet Army during WWII is only part of his exciting tale. Once you finish reading this book, you won't believe that his name is not a household word.

Mr. Beyrle was one of the most special individuals I have ever had the honor of meeting in my lifetime. I feel that in return for making me an honorary member of the 101st screaming eagles, the least I can do is encourage everyone to explore his tale.
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