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Trial by Combat: A Paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division Remembers the 1944 Battle of Normandy

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1418491291
ISBN-10: 1418491292
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Staff Sergeant Thomas M. Rice fought in some of the major battles of World War II, including Normandy, Market-Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. He made combat jumps in Normandy and Market-Garden. In Normandy he was wounded by shrapnel and caught a sniper's bullet in his left knee. At Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge a bullet blasted his left leg just above the knee, and other bullets tore a four inch piece out of the radial bone just below the elbow of his right arm.Military awards include 4 campaigns, Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf clusters, Two Invasion Arrows, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with cluster, Good Conduct Medal, French Fourregue, Belgium Lanyard and Parachutist Badge. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (November 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1418491292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1418491291
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,896,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John E. Larsen on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rice was with C Company of the 501st Para Inf Regt. Much of his story concerns his training and his time in England, the flight to Normandy kicks off about page 120. There is quite a bit on his thoughts on the plane, including his motivations and the political situation. Rice very much saw himself as part of the sharp end of the sword to drive the Germans out of places they had no right to be. Once he is on the ground he joins up with others and his Normandy is then the journey to get to their D-Day objective. Along the way there are a few fights with casualties mainly inflicted on the Germans. He is a full participant but he doesn't reveal a prominent role in the action, which is the main focus of my reviews. He does includes three chapters from others who were with him and this is useful enough in that it fleshes the combat out a little more. Given there are also quite a few pages of maps and photos it does mean that Rice's own words are fewer than I'd have preferred. The book concludes with Rice stating his intention to write another volume on his later battles.

There is some interesting stuff in training and a bit more than usual on being in England but I have to say this is not overall a compelling read. There are also a lot of punctuation oddities like double spaces and in particular random hyphens. These don't detract from the text but it's odd to see, especially since Rice was a teacher after the war. There's also some odd referencing, with the quote repeated in full at the bottom of the page. It left me confused as to whose words they were. Another more serious error was the inconsistency with naming German units. The 6th FJ is alternatively named as both a battalion and a regiment, sometimes on the same page.

One thing I did like was some of the background.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I learned that Mr. Rice had written about his experience as a paratrooper during WWII, I had to have this book in my collection. To have had this war hero as a teacher, is a memory I'll will forever treasure.
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Format: Paperback
It was a gift. The book was written by one of my husband's high school teachers. He said that he enjoyed it, but mostly because of the affiliation with this modest gentleman. His students were never regaled with his heroic history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll have to agree with Roger Mangum about personal narratives of those who have served. They are almost always fascinating reading. In fact, they are almost escapist in nature. And while this book is a good read, and I'm glad Mr. Rice's story has been told, the book has some issues.

This odd little book filled with both interesting facts and confusing moments. The biggest problem is it suffers terribly from a lack of good editing. There are run-on paragraphs and sentences that need to be read two or three times. Words are sometimes connected rather than separated. It also suffers from a consistent flow from topic to topic and people are suddenly appear without introduction and later disappear with as little notice.

More importantly, it ends in a confusing way. We're never sure why Mr. Rice exited combat in Normandy. He never says he was wounded or simply was pulled out of combat. Even though I read the ending several times, I was never clear, due to disjointed world flow what the conclusion was.

There are some fascinating tidbits of information. What I thought was a factual error regarding a silenced 98k sniper's rifle turned out to me my fault. While quite familiar with many small arms, and silenced weapons, I had never heard of such a thing being used in combat by the German army. I stand corrected. This is the only narrative I know that specifically mentioned the topic.

Among this book's best moments are his comments about Father Francis Sampson. Both Mr. Rice and Farther Sampson are true American heroes.

If you are interested in this type of reading I would suggest trying Currahee!: A Screaming Eagle at Normandy by Donald R. Burgett among others.
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