Beyond Valor: World War II's Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat

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9780684873848: Beyond Valor: World War II's Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat
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WWII Rangers; airborne;

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Review:

The success of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation has sparked a renewed interest in books about World War II and the people who fought in it. Patrick K. O'Donnell maintains, however, that behind those official histories and carefully crafted memoirs lies a "hidden war"--"a bottled up, buried version shielded even from family members because many of the memories are too painful to discuss." In Beyond Valor, O'Donnell brings this hidden war to the surface, allowing men from the elite forces to tell their own stories, thus creating a fascinating combat history of WWII.

O'Donnell introduces readers to some of the greatest of the greatest generation--men such as Robert Kinney of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, wounded by a mortar at Anzio ("it tore my fanny open, took a big chunk of meat out of there--I could afford that"). While in the hospital, wounded members of the regiment were asked by one of their officers to return to the front:

We all went down, about forty of us in casts, bandages, arms in slings and everything. He said, "Your buddies up there are catching hell and we've got to go back if we can. You don't have to, we're not going to order you, but we're looking for volunteers." We said, "Hell, we'll go." We had just the best-spirited bunch of scrappers you ever saw.
There are also stories about compassion in the midst of carnage. Albert Hassenzahl of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was seriously injured on a drop during the Normandy invasion. While waiting to be rescued, the wind blew his blanket off him. A man on an adjacent stretcher reached over and carefully tucked the blanket in around Hassenzahl. The other man was a German POW. "I didn't say a word to him, but I was able to move my head a little and looked over at him ... neither of us said a word, but mentally I might have said 'thank you' with my eyes and he might have said 'you're welcome' with his."

Though it will certainly appeal to them, O'Donnell insists that Beyond Valor is not aimed at war buffs--it's for the soldiers themselves. "My work has been one of preservation, done in gratitude for a generation that sacrificed so much." By sharing these stories, O'Donnell has helped to preserve and honor their memory. --Sunny Delaney

From the Author:

“[An] Extraordinary book. The unselfish actions of these incredible men will serve to inspire future generations of Americans whenever our Nation’s security is threatened. Their sacrifices and accomplishments will live on through the ages.”

General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

“What Steven Spielberg accomplished visually for the cinema in Saving Private Ryan, Patrick O'Donnell has accomplished through the printed word.”

—(Carlo D'Este, author of Patton: A Genius for War) —Carlo D'Este

“These riveting oral and e-mail accounts by glidermen and rangers and paratroopers are reminiscent of such books by Stephen E. Ambrose as D-Day and Citizen Soldiers.”

—(Douglas Brinkley, director of the Eisenhower Center and Professor of History at the University of New Orleans) —Douglas Brinkley

“Beyond Valor teaches realities of World War II combat that I have encountered in no other book.”

—(Gerald F. Linderman, author of The World Within War: America's Combat Experience in World War II, Professor Emeritus Univ. Michigan) —Gerald F. Linderman

“ Beyond Valor is a great war book. It has pathos, excitement, and sometimes suspense. Above all it reminds us that wars are fought by men on the ground, not in the war rooms of higher headquarters.”

—(John S. D. Eisenhower author of Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott —John S.D. Eisenhower

“These narratives are highly charged, emotional, dramatic, intense. The horrific underside of war has seldom been exposed so graphically.”

—(Stanley Weintraub, Professor Emeritus Penn. State University, author of MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero) —Stanley Weintraub

"No simple narrative of a battle can give you the viewpoint of these now-aged warriors.” —(Larry K. Bond, author of The Enemy Within and Day of Wrath) —Larry K. Bond

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