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In August 1944, a drab convoy of raw recruits destined to join the 28th Division lumbered along a windy French road strewn with dead animals, shattered bodies, and burning equipment. One of those draftees was 24-year-old Eddie Slovik, a petty thief from Detroit who had spent his youth in and out of reform schools. Eddie's luck had recently changed, however, with a steady factory job and marriage to a beautiful girl who gave Eddie hope and security for the first time in his life. But their honeymoon—like that of many other wartime newlyweds—was interrupted by the call to service. The convoy came under intense artillery fire, and in the confusion Slovik became separated from his unit. He joined a Canadian outfit and traveled with them before finally reporting to the 28th Division. He carried a rifle but no ammunition. He was assigned to a platoon but walked away. Refusing to fight, Slovik was arrested, court martialed, and condemned to death. Hundreds of soldiers were tried for desertion during World War II and sentenced to die, but only Eddie Slovik paid the price, supposedly as a deterrent, yet word of the nature of his death was never officially released.
In The Execution of Private Slovik, considered to be among the best investigative books ever written, William Bradford Huie reconstructs this entire story with the full cooperation of the U.S. Army in order to find out what made Eddie Slovik an unlikely pacifist and why the affair was covered up. Through interviews with those who knew him and the hundreds of letters to his wife, the author reveals a hard luck depression era kid who when faced with the reality of war realized that he simply could not kill another human being. Huie shows that Eddie Slovik's death has much to tell us about life and duty to one's country.
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William Bradford Huie (1910–1986), author and journalist, is widely recognized as among the chief correspondents to bring attention to the civil rights struggle in the South. He is the author of twenty-one books, many made into movies, including Can Do!: The Story of the Seabees, The Americanization of Emily, Three Lives for Mississippi, The Revolt of Mamie Stover, and The Klansman. Born in Hartselle, Alabama, Mr. Huie served in the U. S. Navy in World War II and afterwards was the editor and publisher of the American Mercury. His articles appeared regularly in national magazines and he was a host for the CBS television program, Chronoscope, a precursor to 60 Minutes.Review:
"A remarkable story reported by a master." -- W. E. B. Griffin
"A tremendously moving book." -- Atlantic Monthly
"Huie unravels the tragedy of Eddie Slovik, a 24-year-old soldier executed in 1945. Gut-wrenching." -- Library Journal
"The story raises questions to which our wisest leaders still lack satisfying answers." -- S. L. A. Marshall, New York Times Book Review
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