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When Elliot was 8, he announced he wanted to be a history teacher and specialize in medieval times. I thought this was weird. When I was 8 I wanted to be a nurse because my mother was a nurse, and in real life I read voraciously and wrote stories about infants with small feet born in a country where everyone had big feet and other wildly original tales that are mercilessly lost to time. I didn’t have the same kind of drive and far-sightedness. Elliot has always been very different from his mother.

I also didn’t think it would last but so far, it’s holding. He’s 14 now and a total history buff, and is planning, as when he was 8, to become a history prof. He has broadened out his interests to include military history in general (thanks to his aunt sending him some very cool books) and WWII in particular. He’s fun to travel with, as he can most likely tell you something about where you’re visiting.

So when Marcus Brotherton, an old college friend of mine, wrote a book about the original “Band of Brothers*” and mentioned that Penguin Publishing would probably send me a free review copy, I agreed with alacrity. I knew Elliot would love it.

This is Marc’s second book on the topic. He wrote “We Who Are Alive and Remain,” a look at the personal stories behind those presented in the mini-series. “A Company of Heroes” contains interviews with family members, and presents an in-depth look at war in all its horror and glory. The result also shows the aftermath of war; the toll it takes on soldiers who return to their families irrevocably changed. Given our current history as a nation, it’s a very timely book and interesting on many levels.

Penguin sent it promptly, and Elliot read it promptly, enjoyed it very much, and is now passing it around his friends. He even wrote a review. Here it is:

“This is a great book that tells the stories of some of the surviving (and not surviving) members of the “Band of Bothers”. This story is really touching as it tell about the back grounds and  life after the war of these different soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect America and her ways. The story is composed of four parts each taking a different section of the army and telling the story of some of the men who served in that specific part of the army. Part I: Enlisted Men, Part II: NCOs, Part III: Officers, Part IV: Easy Company’s fallen.

The book contains twenty-six chapters and an epilogue. Each chapter is the story of a different soldier. Every story is recounted by a family member (sometimes more then one) which I think is a great way to do some research. These men are true heroes from my perspective: they sacrificed every thing they knew to fight for the freedom of America. We sometimes take our freedom for granted and it’s really great to be reminded of these men who gave it to us.

One really good story is chapter 21 Part IV (1st sgt Bill Evans), I just really like this one part because it’s a really good example of the sacrifice these men made: “I never met my great-uncle, as he was gone long before I was born […] My grand-mother said he volunteered for the service so his brothers, who had children, might not have to go to war.” This is a great example of sacrifice on Sgt Bill Evans part.

This is a must-read for anyone who has a family member who took part in WWII or who is interested by the subject of WWII.”

*you remember that  mini-series that I refused to watch because I’ve seen enough WWII movies now, thankyouverymuch, and me watching another harrowing Holocaust movie or a mini-series of personable young men getting blown to bits isn’t actually going to help anyone. I already hate war—I don’t need to be reminded why.

May 2010

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