Band of Brothers (25th Anniversary edition) by Stephen E Ambrose – Published by Simon & Schuster (with foreword by Tom Hanks) 2017
I was prompted to order this after it was recommended by someone I met on a recent trip to the Normandy Beaches. I was assured it was better than the TV miniseries (which I haven’t watched) and it seemed a good time to read it as I had visited many of the sites referred to.
Based on interviews with some of those who were there, it is the story of the US Army’s Easy Company and covers what happens from initial training in 1942 to the Company’s personal triumph at winning the war. The latter grated more than a little as there is limited acknowledgement of the efforts by others on both sides who were just as brave and were equally highly trained and whose fight was just as bloody and often more prolonged.
We read of the Company’s parachute landings in Normandy and, unusually for this type of book, there are details of post war careers. We get to know about personalities, lives and deaths and individual strengths and weaknesses. Therein lies my greatest issue with this book. More than once I muttered under my breathe “you’re one of the elite. I get it”.
Although seemingly well researched and well written, I couldn’t help but feel for the relatives of those servicemen who didn’t cover themselves with glory. Those whose fear and hesitation is so clearly documented and, most of all, the far too detailed descriptions of individual deaths.
Unfortunately, it seemed that in order to warrant inclusion in this account of the war one must be either a drunk or a hero, a successful scrounger or a bully. In this account, war isn’t just about fighting the enemy, it’s about fighting everyone who isn’t part of this so called band of brothers.
I’m not a history buff and I rarely read books about war, so maybe the problem I have with this book is rooted in that.