As a holiday gift for
myself, I read an advance copy of the last of Rick Atkinson's trilogy on World War II in Europe. The book is out in May, but you
can pre-order on Amazon right now.
It was like slipping
into a warm bath: Good writing ("Sherman pyres on the Caen plain") and fine
But most of all,
blacked-out wartime London would feel for the rank insignia of prospects before
naming their price. (And a quickie done standing up inside a overcoat was
called "Marble Arch style.")
Nearly half the
American troops arriving in Europe in 1944 were still teenagers. By contrast,
by the end of that year, 2 million of Hitler's 3.6 million soldiers were older
to the Eastern Front were stunned when moved to the West to battle Americans
who enjoyed overwhelming air superiority -- it was, Rommel warned, like "being
nailed to the ground."
Speaking of the
Soviets, Stalin comes off a bit like Edward G. Robinson, speaking a few phrases
of English, such as "You said it!" and "What the hell goes on around here?"
About 10 percent of
all American combat casualties during the war came during the Battle of the
The Red Army lost
more soldiers at Stalingrad that the entire U.S. military did in the entire
bombing month of the war was March 1945, with 130,000 tons dropped on
After the war, 21
ships laden with dead American soldiers brought them home. The first carried
5,060 bodies. What a Homeric image.