Vanguard of the Crusade: The 101st Airborne Division in World War II

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9780971765009: Vanguard of the Crusade: The 101st Airborne Division in World War II
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Contents. In an age of exaggeration and hype, when words like "great," "famous," and "legendary" are often used to describe the ordinary and slightly-above-average, it is difficult to describe the truly special. Further, when so much has been written about a subject, it is hard to find fresh perspectives and new ways to approach it.

With Vanguard of the Crusade, author Mark Bando has accomplished just these things. Through decades of painstakingly collecting and verifying first-hand accounts of some of the fiercest fighting in the European Theater, he has illuminated the personal experiences of the members of this truly and justly famous American airborne division. From their baptism of fire in the advance echelon of Operation Overlord, to capturing the first objectives of Operation Market-Garden, and defiantly holding the key crossroads at Bastogne during the German Ardennes Offensive, the exploits of the "Screaming Eagles" are expertly recounted in this heavily-illustrated single volume.

Expanding significantly on the author's previous work, Vanguard of the Crusade includes dozens of previously unpublished, rare photos as well as significantly enhanced versions of photos which have appeared in some of his works before. Historians, buffs, reenactors, and collectors alike will be fascinated by the extensive new sections about airborne equipment and parachutists' uniforms, as well as the all-new special feature segments about the major German formations defeated by the 101st in its campaigns in France, Holland, and Belgium. Ten brand new, highly-detailed maps based directly on primary source documents also support the text, which, like Bando's previous works, draws heavily on vividly-recounted, authentic anecdotes gleaned from the airborne veterans themselves.

Significance More than any of the other combatant forces in the Second World War, the US Army standardized its divisions' organization, training, and doctrine. This allowed unparalleled flexibility of employment and a consistency of battlefield performance rivaled by the tactical forces of no other army. Airborne divisions, on the other hand, were the closest thing the US Army had to specially trained and organized "assault" units, designed specifically for striking behind enemy lines and holding key terrain while isolated and cut off.

The 101st Airborne Division thus required and attracted a special kind of soldier, of whom unusual-and deadly-demands were made routinely, in training as well as combat. By chronicling the Division's combat experience through the eyes and in the words of its soldiers themselves, Vanguard of the Crusade provides priceless insights into what made this division so distinctive and the traditions it built so worthy. Perhaps one of their own, Private First Class Tex McMorries, put it best, "The best and toughest of the paratroopers were cold, fearless killers, who went to great extremes to kill the enemy." Vanguard of the Crusade is their story.

Told without a shred of sentimentality, but with an implicit and profound respect for the paratroopers and glidermen who wore the Screaming Eagle patch, the book captures the spirit and the deeds of the Division which, from Normandy to Holland to the Ardennes, was the vanguard-and a bulwark-of the Crusade in Europe.

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About the Author:

Mark Bando is the well-known author of three previous books about the 101st Airborne Division in World War II and of Breakout at Normandy: The 2d Armored Division in the Land of the Dead. Expanding on his previous works, Vanguard of the Crusade is comprehensive, addressing the entire WWII record of the 101st.

The author was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, Michigan, attended Cass Technical High School and later Wayne State University, as a history major. He served 25 years as a uniformed Detroit Police patrol officer, working in five different precincts and spending six years in the citywide Tactical Section, during which he heard many shots fired in anger.

Bando began interviewing World War II veterans of the 101st in 1968 and has continued to 2003, with a running total of over 930 interviews. This lifelong pursuit grew out of a recognition of the superior battlefield performance of the WWII 101st and their resulting legendary historical status. His quest has been not only to record their exceptional experiences for posterity, but also to study the combat paratroopers to discover the reasons for their great successes in battle. Uniquely, Bando has focused almost exclusively on the 101st for three decades, providing his books an abundance of rich, untold stories and a depth of detail which other researchers simply cannot match.

Review:

"A great book...[the author] vividly recounts the veterans' stories." -- 39/45 Magazine (France)

"Like reading the best parts of 100 veterans’ war stories while paging through their scrapbooks. What could be more absorbing?" -- World War II Magazine, January 2004

"This enthralling saga...accented by hundreds of mesmerizing photos, showcases the wartime accomplishments of the Screaming Eagles." -- World War II History Magazine, November 2005

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9782840483380: Vanguard of the Crusade: The 101st Airborne Division in World War II

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ISBN 10:  2840483386 ISBN 13:  9782840483380
Publisher: Casemate Publishers, 2012
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