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on July 17, 2017
I found "The Liberator" by Alex Kershaw to be a unique and excellent vehicle to learn about World War II. Kershaw follows one soldier, Felix Sparks from landing on Sicily, fighting through Sicily, then up the 'boot' of Italy, another landing in southern France, north through eastern France, crossing the Rhine River into Germany, fighting through Germany to Bavaria, and, most significantly, liberating the Dachau Concentration Camp. The most amazing fact to me is that Felix Sparks actually survived this ordeal. His unit took some of the worst casualties of any American army unit in the European Theater.
The book details the horrors infantry troops endured in Europe and the amazing courage it took just to pick up the weapon each day and continue the fight. PTSD (post traumatic stress disease , known by various other terms (shell shock, etc.) in those days), took a tremendous tole. Despite it all, Sparks continued to show leadership and good judgment. He first landed in Sicily as a Lieutenant and company commander. At the end, he was a Lt. Colonel and Battalion commander. His men loved and trusted him and he returned the feelings. The section of the book dealing with the liberation of Dachau was particularly riveting and wrenching.
I recommend this book.
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on February 16, 2017
The US Army traditionally has been an organization that celebrates elites: Rangers, Special Forces, Delta Force, and Airborne Infantry. But, in the end, it is the straight leg, uncelebrated infantry units who do the heavy lifting of battle. The 45th Infantry Division was one of those organizations in WWII. In over 500 days of combat it suffered unimaginable casualties, fighting its way across Sicily, up the leg of Italy, into France and Germany. It went across the beach in four D-Days, but received little credit or praise. Col. Felix Sparks demonstrated unparalleled courage and leadership in guiding and encouraging his men through the terrors of mine fields, artillery barrages, machine gun fire, and extreme weather conditions of heat, cold and rain. This book is very well written, but equally hard to read because of the description of terror and carnage inflected on these young Americans by a determined, fanatical enemy. Mr. Kershaw has done another tremendous job in writing this book. I recommend it to all.
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on September 18, 2016
Felix Sparks another unsung hero from WW2. He helped with the invasion of Italy and fought all the way into Germany. Along the way he liberated the Dachau concentration Camp. Here some of his men slaughtered the brutal SS that they captured. The aftermath had a full investigation into the conduct of those killing the SS. It eventually was squashed by Patton himself.
The writer pulls no punches. He lets the reader know when a General messed up and how it affected the outcome of the battle. Felix Sparks is a true American Hero. Once you start reading it will be hard to put the book down.
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on March 5, 2018
If you have only one book to read about the soldiers in WWII, this is it. I have read many books about the Second World War, but this one captures the essence, the sacrifice, the heroism, the pain and,yes, the horror of war better than most. What sets this book apart is following the life of a true hero, Felix Sparks, from second lieutenant to brigadier general, through innumerable battles, wins and losses and gives a “you are there” quality of life during war. Written with care and thoughtfulness, this book is not to be missed.
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on July 29, 2017
Many books have been written on WW2's top Generals and Admirals as well as on Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. In this well researched book, however, we learn about the war from perspective of a field grade officer involved in 500 days of combat in its toughest battles. The subject is little known out- side of his home state, but is exemplary of those soldiers who truly won the war through their individual actions. His life after the war was also remarkable, and was an excellent addition to this book. A very good read, and so glad I came across it.
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on November 7, 2017
I enjoyed the book as it followed the route my uncle took while in WWII. His division was alongside the author’s. I purchased it for my Dad and he enjoyed it as much as I since it was his brother. He, in turn, purchased it for my uncles’s son. Hearing how rough their lives were for several years was heartbreaking. It was awful for them to have to go through. It should make us appreciate our soldiers even more. They are true heroes.
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on March 6, 2017
A wholesome adventure read about bravery and respect. One can only honor and respect Sparks for his courageous duty for freedom and respect for fellow humans he so loved respected cared for. My uncle who didn't come from this theater certainly would have honored and loved him too!
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on January 23, 2017
I enjoyed this book because of the grit that made the men of this time - my respect for WWll veterans continues to grow especially with a writer like Alex Kershaw. He writes vividly and I honestly could not put this book down. His detication for detail is the key to the page turner he has written. Some writers add so much detail that the story gets lost. Keyshaw's story of Felix Sparks is nothing less than amazing as his love for his men is his true legacy. I think that this mans story got lost in Normandy evasion but it was men like Sparks that won the war. Highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed.
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on August 22, 2016
Very good read! I couldn't put it down. Detailed enough but no boring details concerning distances that are not necessary.
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on January 14, 2018
This fast paced, well researched, and extremely well written WWII saga is of the extraordinary experience of Felix L. Sparks, who rose from no rank dog face to command a regiment in the 45th division, from bloody Anzio to the hell of Dachau. It's amazing that one man saw and endured as much as he did and survived. Sparks was a great man.
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