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To Hell and Back

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  3,474 ratings  ·  111 reviews
The classic bestselling war memoir by the most decorated American soldier in World War II, back in print in a trade paperback

Originally published in 1949, To Hell and Back was a smash bestseller for fourteen weeks and later became a major motion picture starring Audie Murphy as himself. More than fifty years later, this classic wartime memoir is just as gripping as it was
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1949)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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A.L. Sowards
I have a good friend in the Washington, D.C. Area who visits Audie Murphy’s grave every time she goes to Arlington, so this book has been on my to-read list for a while.

I enjoy memoirs that can bring out several extreme emotions, and this one, written by America’s most decorated WWII combat vet, makes the list. Gritty description, witty banter, heart-rending tragedy. I laughed with the men and the way they teased each other, and I might have cried when (view spoiler)
Update: I read this memoir several years ago and am now about 50% through Beyond Band of Brothers The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. Comparisons will be inevitable, I suppose, especially since Winters started as an officer. Both are interesting, but I think Murphy's the more introspective.

It was interesting to read this account of Audie Murphy's travails in World War II (Murphy was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of that war) having read Ambrose's hagiographic Band of Brothers.

Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*
My completely random thoughts on To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy.

I have a borderline obsessive fascination with Nazis and Hitler. That being said - and I'll get to why here in a second - don't start throwing stones at me, it isn't because I think it's right or think it's even moderately tolerable, it's because how, how is it possible to hate anything that much? How is the human mind capable of such blind hatred that genocide could even be considered?! This I don't understand and because I can'
John Rivera
An unexpected read. I've always seen this book for sale at the PX but never gave much thought to it, after all, it's about Audie Murphy--what infantryman like myself doesn't know who Audie Murphy is? Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Murphy didn't just write a dry narrative, he wrote a factual work complete with dialogue that bears a close resemblance to today's American grunt dialect. I felt like I was reading an engrossing novel like All Quiet on the Western Front except its conte ...more
carl  theaker

About 5 pages in "To Hell and Back" I thought the banter between
GIs was witty, though a little too planned for a 5th grade drop out
like Audie Murphy, not that I'd begrudge him a little editing
assistance. Twenty pages in, his squad looked like the prototypical
GI movie, something like Sam Fuller's 'A Walk in the Sun', there was
an Irishman, a guy from Brooklyn, the American Indian, Texan(Audie)
and so forth.

As it was published in 1949, I thought it could well be the bible
for all the post war films
Chris Watson
Spoiler alert....

Audey Murphy was always a brave soldier. He began with weigh-the-odds courage, but ended up acting like what can best be described as a 'beserker'.

He was first in action after Salerno, and was a gallant soldier. During the Italian campaign a lot of friends and comrades were killed, the Anzio beachhead being the worst place. He even fell in love with a nurse at Anzio who was blown to bits by Anzio Annie.

By the time of the Allied invasion of Southern France, he had begun to 'lose
Ray Pierson
I've read and re-read this book many times. For several years I worked with a fellow who had been a scout in Murphy's platoon (Irv Tischler) and who was present when Murphy intiated the action that led to his Medal of Honor. Anyone with any sense, Tischler said, got up and ran in the opposite direction. Murphy was convinced that nothing would ever happen to him, and he was almost right. A number of times he was the sole survivor (or sole officer survivor) of incidents that killed everyone else.
Audie Murphy was a poor farm boy from a little dirt town in Texas. His mom died when he was young and his dad took off. He scrambled a living until war broke out and he wanted to sign up. Too skinny to be a Marine, too short for a paratrooper, he finally got taken on in the infantry. They shipped him off to North Africa, but by then, most of the fighting was over. So he didn't get in on the war until Italy, but he made up for lost time once he was there. He was wounded several times, but kept ru ...more
Growing up I remember watching Audie Murphy Westerns with my Dad and had no idea of his life before becoming a movie star. That changed when as a teenager I watched "To Hell and Back" and found out that this was his own story! He was the most decorated soldier of WW2. It had been on my wish list ever since.

I recently read this book and it was interesting to read of the war from his perspective. When all of his friends, one by one, are killed you can see why soldiers retreat and isolate themselv
Aug 10, 2008 Zil rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: soldiers and history buffs
The thing that most set this war story apart from others that I've read is that Murphy neither glorifies nor vindicates the war throughout his memoirs. The pages trudge on like a road march and seep through with exhaustion and pain (peppered with camaraderie) that's grimly accepted until it's over.

In the Army, we're force-fed the name "Audie Murphy" until we're about sick of it. I was glad to find out that he wasn't a bombastic, self-aggrandizing bastard, to be honest. He was just a normal joe i
I loved this book. Sometimes I would stop enjoying it as a well written story and remember that this was an auto-biography. When one of the guys killed his good friend by accident it was heart wrenching. The way that these men are so close, honest, and crude when death is always at hand, is a side of life we rarely live. Audie is witty and the characters are incredibly colorful and real. "I have seen war as it actually is, and I do not like it."
Really different from any other war book I've read. It's all first person, reads more like a series of extended journal entries. There's no backstory, no history, no maps. You're just there, experiencing the war day to day with Audie Murphy. Makes you really appreciate the soldiers that went through this and other wars, and very thankful that I haven't had to.
I learned of this guy while looking for summer activities for AJ and came across the Cotton Museum/Audie Murphy Museum. I looked him up and was intruigued. He was the most decorated soldier of WWII. This is his biography and reads like a war movie. I couldn't put it down. I can't believe people can experience those kinds of things and move on.
This is an excellent depiction of what a Soldier and a leader experience in combat, and it comes from the best. If you're going to read any autobiographies or first-hand accounts of war, then read this one.
Joel Pearson
Audie painted himself as a self-righteous punk early on in the book, likely with the point of contrasting how the war changed his outlook, his demeanor, and his attitude. His fearlessness and loyalty to his fellow soldiers was as amazing as any stories I've heard, and as far as I know these stories have been regarded as true.

The writing was decent, the story fantastic, and a much more 'real' look behind our lines in the war. Not focusing quite as much on the terrible aspects of the war as other
Doug DePew
May 23, 2011 Doug DePew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in military history or memoirs
Reading Audie Murphy's account of his World War II experiences in "To Hell and Back" is a surreal experience. I've seen the movie many times, but I only recently bought the book. It always amazed me watching him on-screen realizing he really did these things. Many of the characters in the book seem like stereotypes. They were all real.

Much of this book would seem cliche being written today. What we have to keep in mind is the fact that most stereotypes began as types. The reason these character
Dallin Rowley
A grippingly powerful true story of a boy at war. Audie Murphy, who was turned away from the Marines because he was to young and small, tells the story of his experiences in combat in Southern Europe during World War II. Without embellishment, he describes the experiences when he fulfilled his duty and earned the title of America's most decorated Soldier. But this book is more than a story of a war hero. At it's heart, it is really a tale of the terrors of war. Using a simple, tell-it-like-it-is ...more
Started out okay, but after getting used to the style of righting (mostly in the first person), I really enjoyed it. The author wrote of his and his units exploits in a very unassuming way, never blowing his horn, but always mentioning the exploits of others in the unit when with him. A leader that lived his leadership, always looking out and giving credit to his men.
The scales of war bravery humbles you. If you believe in books that will change the way you see the world, this book is right among them.

It is a story of a transformation of a baby faced infantry soldier, slowed down by a malaria bout, to a battle hardened trigger happy veteran who sees no honour in a dead body, believes war to be an extended mexican standoff where the trick is to be the first one to pull the trigger.

Three hundred and forty seven frigging germans. If I could quantify what one ca
Steven Hull
Audie Murphy was appealing. Who could not like him? He was outgoing, handsome, a war hero, and a Hollywood actor. Although his life was cut short in an airplane crash, Murphy is remembered for all of these things, but most of all he is remembered, and rightly so, for what he did on the World War II battlefields of Europe. There is more to Murphy than all of this, though, and knowing about his humble origins and pathway to the Army is important for the reader to fully understand the soldier Murp ...more
Richard Bennett
I've always known about Audie Murphy, thanks to cowboy western movie re-runs being shown on the television. Surprising that a little fellow who looks like a boy would become the most decorated American veteran of WWII. 'To Hell and Back' is Mr. Murphy's account of his war adventures, from North Africa to Italy to France and finally, to Germany. He shot first, shot straight, took risks but kept his head down and somehow survived the war, going on to another career with show-business. He tells wha ...more
One of America's best known wartime heroes recounts the action that he saw along the front in World War 2. This is a true story of what he actually saw. There isn't much biography here, but plenty that helps you understand the frame of mind of a young man, faced with many "kill or be killed" scenarios.

Audie Murphy earned the Medal of Honor (among other high honors) in World War 2. By any measure, his acts are heroic and he is among the greatest of our soldiers in battle. But his book simply tell
Brielle Hunter
Another sobering read.
Mark Cooper
[Audio:] A sobering account of this WWII veteran's tour of duty in the European Theater. Humbling, agonizing, at times humorous, Murphy does a great job of providing the reader with a sense of the bone-weariness of infantry life along with the gruesome nature of war.
Jun 27, 2008 Mgsmith rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: American history, World War 2 fans, Those interested in Heroes.
Shelves: heroes
Told by the services that he was just to small he became the most decorated American Soldier of World War II.
The story of a man who wanted to do what he could for his country. This story is written so simple by a true hero that really did not feel that he was one.
Jan 04, 2010 Andrew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in WWII
Shelves: history, military
This was a really great quick read. It's like a WWII version of all Quiet on the Western Front. It pulls no punches about what combat was like and the men that make up the characters in the story are hilarious. Horrifying and funny at the same time.
Kate Schwarz
After reading the thoughtful, well-crafted A Higher Call about "the most chivalrous act" in WWII between an American and German pilot who fought against yet deeply respected each other, listening to this book gave me whiplash. Down on the ground the enemy was closer and I understand the human need to demonize and hate anyone in enemy uniform--most of the time. But the book just wasn't for me.

Because the book is largely written in dialogue and because the man reading the book on audio did all of
Bill Largent
Very good WW II journal written in 1949. You will appreciate all of those who served in keeping the United States free. If you are not grateful when finished reading you don't appreciate your own freedom.
I didn't take to this book right away. I was expecting more from the man toted as the most decorated soldier. I didn't "get it" until the last couple of pages. I do now. I like it.
I'm currently reading this one and it's great! Sure there is blood and guts but mostly emphasizes the relationships between the men. Excellent living history book! Can't wait to finish it!
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Audie Murphy was born into a large sharecropper family in Hunt County, Texas. The seventh of twelve children. His father abandoned the family, and his mother died when he was a teenager. Murphy dropped out of school in fifth grade to pick cotton and find other work to help support his family, and his skill with a hunting rifle was a necessity for feeding them. His older sister helped him to falsif ...more
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“Now comes the picture of mass defeat, the most awesome spectacle of the war. It is in the bent bodies of old women who poke among ruins seeking some miserable object that will link their lives with the old days. It is in the shamed darting eyes of the defeated. It is in the faces of the little boys who regard our triumphant columns with fear and fascination. And above all it is in the thousands of beaten, dusty soldiers who stream along the roads towards the stockades. Their feet clump wearily, mechanically, hopelessly on the still endless road of war. They move as haggard, gray masses, in which the individual had neither life nor meaning. It is impossible to see in these men the quality that made them stand up and fight like demons out of hell a few shorts months ago.” 8 likes
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