The book, Band Of Brothers, is written by an author with the name of Stephen E. Ambrose. What makes this book unique from many military stories is how Ambrose writes it from the point of view of the actual soldiers and officers that were on the front line. It is about the 101st Airborne Division, called Easy Company. It starts in their training and Ambrose follows them all the way through the final affair at Berchtesgaden and Austria.
This book starts off in the training of the soldiers of the Easy Company. It describes the physical brutality of the training that these men had to go through. The men all struggle through this causing many to not make it through the training, but that is the intention. It is not made for everyone, and only the very best are able to make it through. This is only the basic training though, and Ambrose continues to discuss the training that the men had to go through in England. This was a nine month training process there, and was no less brutal, but when it came time for the test the men that still remained passed it with ease, which hadn’t been seen before. Ambrose then goes on telling the story of the night before, and the morning of June 1942 more commonly known as D-Day. The soldiers of the Easy Company jumped that morning and landed on Utah Beach with the task of eliminating the artillery and the troops protecting it. During this process Richard Winters rose to the occasion as the original leader, Sobel, was overly controlling and proved himself am insufficient leader when the time came. Once Winters took over, however, the Company performed like a well-oiled machine. They were in a disadvantageous situation with less than 100 men and very short on weapons to equip everyone. They fought together and although they were not well equipped they very successfully in their task and as one of the soldiers said in a letter, “…We were smart; there weren’t many flashy heroics. We had learned that heroics was the way to get killed without getting the job done, and getting the job done was more important.” After D-Day, Ambrose writes about the Company’s excursion to Bastogne where the conditions were terrible. The Company was underpowered for the battle and many of the soldiers’ bodies couldn’t take it and died. Many of the others who didn’t die were afraid of it and simply gave up. Despite all of this, they successfully defended Bastogne from the German invaders, which made the news and the men were widely recognized. Finally, the men were sent back to Noville, France where they were again slowly breaking under the harsh conditions, but were successful in allowing Eisenhower to accomplish what he wanted to, and they were then enjoying the final days of a successful war.
This novel takes place during World War II. Ambrose took the letters that the soldiers had written during and after the war, read them all, and essentially compiled them together in writing this novel. This process is part of what made this novel such a realistic one. The time period is very important to much of the plot because it was all based around taking down Germany and in the end eliminating Hitler. One thing related to the time period that the people showed was their religious side. One example is on page 118 where one of the soldiers says, “…be with us God, when we leave from our planes into the dark abyss and descending parachutes into the midst of enemy fire.” Another quote that showed the time period can be found on page 219 where it says, “The Americans have established a moral superiority over the Germans.” Even if the reader had known nothing about the book this heavily implies that it was written about something during the second world war because that it was when the Americans and Germans had conflict.
This novel helped me a lot in understanding the time period based on the way people viewed the war and how they were so fearless, or at least seemingly so. An example of this is on page 88 where it reads, “They hadn’t come here to fear. They hadn’t come here to die. They had come to win.” These people were absolutely fearless of what they were faced with and that was something that was a part of the culture they were raised in. They were taught that fighting in the war is the best thing to do and that if one dies in fighting for this country, then it is among the most honorable of deaths. This same pride and value of our soldiers is not the same today. Yes, there are some, generally conservative, people who still have those values, but as a whole the country has lost that pride. Another lesson I learned about the culture during that time period was how important leading by example was. An example from the book can be found on page 38 where it reads, “Officers, go first.” The officers were the higher ranked people and the leaders, and they were the first ones to go out into battle. Now, many leaders prefer to sit back and order the people under them around.
My opinion on this novel is that it is an incredible book and one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. The way Ambrose describes the togetherness of the people and the way that they worked together in battle is very touching. Especially as a basketball player, I have seen many teams that try to have their one or two heroes, and they may have some success, but they almost never accomplish their ultimate goals. The same was said in this book. Another part of this that I really found interesting was how realistic the story was in the way Ambrose told it. This can all be credited to the process that he went about writing it with studying the letters of the soldiers before crafting his story. In addition, I found it very interesting how he describes the training camps and the experiences the men had going through them. My brother is going to go into the marines and will have to go through training like these men did, although it will certainly have many differences today, having that image drawn for me was more valuable than to most people. The book was written incredibly well and was something that I’m glad I read.