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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
44
The Sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on March 9, 2012
My father was a member of the 82nd, first in gliders and then as a paratrooper, seeing action in Normandy, the Cotentin Peninsula, Holland and the Bulge. He was given two Purple Hearts and the three bullets he took in January 1945 disabled him, although to see him you would never know that. He worked for the dept of the army for nearly thirty years before an all too early death. The absolute highlight of his life was his service in the 82nd and he groused at me, a professional historian, that all the news went to the 101st, for, as he pointed out "getting surrounded." He rarely talked of specific things from that time, yet the most vivid one was revealed when he talked about having to cross the causeway at La Friere as a member of Easy Company, ? battalion, 325th Regiment. I have read a number of narratives of this action but he told me something that stuck with me. He claimed that his Captain, Charles Murphy, wept before sending the men across, in what was one of bravest and deadliest actions of the war. I have never found confirmation of this story, which in my father's case involved the man in front of him and good friend being decapitated while running down the causeway. According to my father, most of the men in his platoon, the first of Easy company to go, were killed or wounded. I was thrilled to find that the author tells this story about Murphy, for as far as I can tell, the first time. It was a moving moment for me to find confirmation of this war story of my dad -- now buried at Arlington, along with my mother, an Army nurse. This is an amazingly thorough work, truly well done military history (believe me, a rare thing from my perspective) and at last this division, really the best and the brightest, has now been well served. I wish my father was still alive to see it. excellent, excellent work, it brought tears to my eyes.

sean moran, dept. of history, oakland university
26 people found this helpful
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on February 1, 2016
Guy LoFaro's book "The Sword of St. Michael..." is an absolute masterful erudition of the history of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. From 1969-72, I was a paratrooper with the "All American Division." I spent a lot of time at the 82nd Airborne Museum reading everything that I could so that I could find inspiration to serve as the " Greatest Generation" did during WWII , if called for combat operations . The amount of research that went into this book is massive. I highly recommend this book for all military historians and current members of the US Armed Forces.
One person found this helpful
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on September 1, 2017
I had a hard time getting started with it. Not an easy read. However, that being said, I am glad I continued: it has many stories I saw here for the fist time--and I feel all their stories are deserving to be told.
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on April 27, 2017
My husband really loves this book and said it is so intense he couldn't read but a few pages every night. He will recommend it to all of his veteran friends.
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on May 5, 2014
I usually prefer to read first hand accounts of WWII battles, but you don't get the big picture in the autobiographical accounts. This book combines the two, big picture and individual accounts. The author covers the "birth" of US Army airborne to the 82nd Airborne division's victory march down 5th Avenue. Very well written, holds your attention and I highly recommend it to those who are interested in the history of WWII and the 82nd Airborne.
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on June 10, 2012
The Sword of St. Michael is just what I like a unit history to be: Scholarly and detailed without being plodding and with numerous personal accounts and quotations from the men who were there, both in the headquarters and on the front lines. From the difficulties of conceiving and implementing a new type of warfare in the face of stubborn resistance from the "old soldiers" in Washington, to the satisfying yet somber parade down 5th Avenue in New York city in 1946 the author does a fantastic job of immersing the reader in the story of this elite unit. At the end, the reader will close the book, take a deep sigh and stare off into space wondering where men like that come from...
7 people found this helpful
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on October 20, 2013
If you want a close up look of the 82nd's lead from the front style at the platoon level read, Jim Megellas' book, "All The Way to Berlin".

For a micro-macro view of WWII's best fighting men in the best Airborne Division, read LoFaro's book. With all due respect to the 101st Airborne and it's chronicler Stephen Ambrose, the 82nd's All Americans were at war first and last. And, in the "Sword", LoFaro provides the proof that they were the Airborne's finest fighting men.
3 people found this helpful
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on January 4, 2013
Gave it to my dad, a Vietnam combat vet. He can't read stuff about Vietnam specifically, but he digs war history. He sat in front of the fire and pretty much read through all 600 pages in a couple of days. He is intelligent, likes history and science, is not overly sentimental, and has a very rational mind. So, if that's you or your giftee, this is probably a good choice.
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on January 6, 2013
Somebody needed to tell the stories of the 82nd Airborne and there is no one better situated than a former officer in the Division and a hero in his own right, Guy LoFaro. For those who don't know LoFaro's story, read his legendary "Dining-In speech" at the U.S. Military Academy in 2003 ([...]). LoFaro was speaking of loyalty and particularly after he was nearly killed by a haywire trainee on a shooting spree at Fort Bragg, NC in 1995.

I know personally of LoFaro's character as we were friends in high school in suburban St. Louis in the middle 1970s. Guy was always there for his friends and he knew from an early age he wanted to go to West Point and be a soldier.

As an eventual Ph. D. in history, LoFaro exhibited loyalty to his 82nd Airborne by crafting a brilliantly researched and written history of the Division during WWII. As someone who writes for a living, I stand in awe of this work. It is both exhaustive and crisp, big picture and microscopically detailed. The skill it took to scope in and out of the grand overall strategy and back to life for the average soldier during ferocious battles is extraordinary. As he says of one of the heroes of the book, General James "Jumpin' Jim" Gavin, he was no "chateau general," he led from the front lines. Well, LoFaro is no chateau historian -- he conducted numerous interviews and consulted hundreds of sources. The writing is engaging and swims in military language, strategy and equipment but doesn't get lost in it. This is a work that will stand up 50 years from now as important.

After reading the extraordinary tales of courage and perseverance by the soldiers, it is obvious why LoFaro devoted such effort in making sure history didn't let them evaporate into the ether. These are men who literally by will and courage turned the tide of the war. At each and every juncture of their involvement in WWII -- in Sicily, Italy, the Cotenin Peninsula, Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, those campaigns teetered on failure and were salvaged by the extraordinary courage and bravery of the 82nd Airborne. They literally walked into the teeth of machine gun and other fire repeatedly, and, with great loss of life and limb, prevailed. The taking of the bridge at Waal, Belgium, was one noteworthy example where troopers staged a nearly impossible river crossing taking heavy causlties and eventually breaking the Germans hold on a crucial stronghold at a key juncture in the Northern Europeon Theater.

This is a great World War II military history book and an important American history book in general. It I were in charge of schools in America, I'd make it required reading for every child so they get an appreciation of the superhuman sacrifice these remarkable men made on our behalf. Along the way, they would also learn about what it takes to research and write a magnificant history book.
8 people found this helpful
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on July 24, 2013
Dad was in the 82nd and I was in the 101st. We're an airborne family and very proud of the traditions and victories of these two great units. A good book by Guy LoFaro - hope to meet him someday.
One person found this helpful
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