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Band of Brothers : E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's NestBand of Brothers : E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It started in the bookstore. There were so many “beyond Band of Brothers” books out there, I figured I should find out what it’s all about. In fact, I got Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers just so I could get to those seemingly more interesting books. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

At first, things were choppy. I didn’t know about regiments and divisions, ranks and protocol. I felt terrible, knowing that I wanted to get through this classic with enjoyment. Still, I recognized right away the insights that make this book a treasure: The unique camaraderie fostered in war, the odd mystery of combat, the inspirational leadership of Richard Winters, the state of a soldier’s mind towards his actions. I picked up the HBO miniseries and with its guidance, things in the book became much more clear. Names became faces, places became experiences. The book revealed the hardships these men went through, the ironic and cruel torture of friends lost, the cost of poor leadership, the joyous carefreeness of post-war loitering, the relationship between Easy and the captured Germans.

What stands out in my mind the stories. The beauty of this book is the individuals. The end of the book tells many men’s post-war stories. It’s odd for me to think of these men living beyond their climactic wartime experiences, but they did – and they used that traumatic time to shape their lives, for better or for worse. The book is an exploration of reality, what simply was, and the beauty that was shaped in it.

War is tough; it is brutal and heartless. This book illustrates that graphically. But World War II was a blessing to so many men of Easy Company – men who found lifelong friends, men who found their own personal strength and purpose, men who would emerge with knowledge, skills, and a bond that is unique and truly special. This book shows both sides – the dark and the light – that characterizes life, and points out how the men of Easy saw and appreciated the lessons of both.

I come away inspired, learned, and moved. I learned so much about war and how an individual company works. I’ve found a new person to admire, and I’ve found yet another place to find the beauty of character, fortitude, and courage.

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