World War II 1941 To 1945

Those Yanks of World War II are white-haired now. Great-grandchildren play about their feet. The grand parades and great commemorations are over. Only a few monuments to their achievements are yet to be built. But we can still see them as they were, striking the casual pose, caps and helmets tilted toward the big adventure, cigarettes dangling from a smile. The picture is all innocence.Read more »

War In The Dark

Why World War II is so difficult to get right on the screen—and the movies that do it best

Well before the film’s debut we could hear the drumbeat of publicity. Steven Spielberg, America’s favorite moviemaker, was going to give us a film about World War II. The title, Saving Private Ryan , gave away nothing. Unlike Schindler’s List , which translated Thomas Keneally’s best-selling book on the Holocaust to the screen, Saving Private Ryan would build its plot around an obscure incident from the invasion of Normandy.

 
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“I Learn a Lot from the Veterans”

Reminiscences of World War II’s European Theater add up to considerably more than a bunch of good war stories

Last fall the author published his book Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army From the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945 . It quickly bounced onto bestseller lists across the country, and the reason this happened is suggested in the rich and moving correspondence it had the power to generate among its readers.

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D-Day: What It Meant

A soldier who landed in the second wave on Omaha Beach assesses the broadest implications of what he and his comrades achieved there

A conjecture, worthy of a certainty, is that no American soldier on Omaha Beach at high noon, June 6, 1944, gave thought to being present at a turning point in world history. Any abstract thinking he may have done was more likely along the lines of being in a major debacle. The English Channel to his back, his weapons, fouled by saltwater and sand, he was largely naked before an enemy firing down from trenches and massive concrete bunkers along high bluffs looming to his immediate front.Read more »

Battlefield Souvenir

It has been a disquieting presence on my bookshelf for twenty-six years now, in four houses and four apartments, a large, handsome volume, bound in white leather and stamped in gold. Its title, also in gold, is in Italian: Leonardo da Vinci S’ul Volo degli Ucelli (Leonardo Da Vinci on the Flight of Birds). It is copy number 152 of a limited edition of 300, and inside, on rich, creamy paper, Leonardo’s drawings and notes are beautifully reproduced and meticulously annotated. Read more »

A Fateful Friendship

Eisenhower dreamed of serving under Patton, but history reversed their roles. Their stormy association dramatically shaped the Allied assault on the Third Reich

 
They never had much in common. George Palion was a conceited, spoiled child from an extremely wealthy, snobbish family. He dressed as he pleased, said what he liked, and did as he wished, he cursed like a trooper and told off his inferiors—:ind sometimes his superiors—with profane eloquence. Although he moved easily in America’s highest society, main people, soldiers included, thought Patton vulgar. Dwight Eisenhower came from the wrong side of the tracks in a tiny midwestern town. He had to support himself while in high school by working nights in a creamery: he wanted to be well liked, and he obeyed his superiors. The only thing he did to attract attention was to do his duty quietly and efficiently.
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