Glory's Reviews > Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: biography, own, ww2, favorites
Recommended for: WWII buffs
Read from September 05 to December 23, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

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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Reading Progress

09/05/2011 page 17
4.0% "Finally getting into this classic! I love the style already, the understated intro to their heroism, (like "a job done, they all went home"), which teases us with deeper things. And the personal quotes and experiences weaved into the author's narrative. Great!"
09/09/2011 page 25
5.0% "Winters is so sweet. But now I understand the tough camaraderie in the military. Page 21 was quite revelatory - the core elements, closer than friends and brothers. Unique to war."
09/09/2011 page 34
7.0% "I told my sister that I felt jumping out of the truck window was nothing because I'd read of E Company marching 100 miles in 4 days. She said that those books actually change you. I think she's right."
09/10/2011 page 38
11.0% "I so hope I don't get lost in the names. I really want to get involved here."
09/12/2011 page 42
13.0% "Now they leave for overseas..."
09/13/2011 page 56
17.0% "The magic of "wartime London" (page 48) and the first letters home (page 54). I enjoyed getting involved in the stories for a nice stretch, reading at midnight with the world all quiet."
09/17/2011 page 71
21.0% "Got through a chap with a splittin' 'eadache this morning. But seriously, fascinating to see the mystery of combat (61) and the sad insight of Thomas Meehan (66) about being American. E Company is entering France. I still wish I knew more about military hierarchy."
09/19/2011 page 76
23.0% "Personal experiences from D-Day on their first experience in combat. Fascinating and sobering."
09/19/2011 page 79
24.0% "I need to get a character/battalion chart of these events. I want to understand!"
09/21/2011 page 83
25.0% "War is a funny thing. First you spot a total stranger and aim for his head, and the other side does the same. Then if they think one of your men is a medic, they hold their fire. It's like there's no conscience, yet there's a code. I must say, that little story made me wonder more about war than "All Quiet on the Western Front.""
09/23/2011 page 98
29.0% "Winters is an absolute inspiration and a joy to read about. He didn't forget to thank God (88), he went out of character to get his men moving (95) and the humorous little incident of his first drink (86). So many funny, sad, and sobering anecdotes. Names are finally sticking a bit as I realize the hierarchy isn't so much to remember as the men. The "blind" man who saw when Winters talked to him (98). Amazing."
09/23/2011 page 101
30.0% "Two guys stop a tank barrage, hitting it in the unarmored belly. Amazing! So many men injured and evacuated. I'd never expected so many."
09/25/2011 page 108
32.0% "Borrowed the film now, and am excited to see the titles follow what I read in the book! Love it that I can recognize names now - Winters, Malarkey, the Chaplain. So nice to read about them."
09/25/2011 page 130
39.0% "Winters is so nice, to write letters on his leave (108), Webster’s philosophy of war (111), the prayer by Lt. Morton (118). In the Market Garden campaign, I finally learned grasped the hierarchy of Regiment, Battalion, Company, squad and platoon. Seeing the men in action and knowing their positions relative to each other and to the map, felt wonderful."
09/25/2011 page 143
43.0% "Really enjoying this now. Interesting end note by Ambrose on the worthwhileness of Market Garden."
09/26/2011 page 154
46.0% "What an astounding experience for Winters and Easy at the Island! Winters' firing into the German mass (148), his telling Liebgott by gunpoint to keep his prisoners alive (150; can't wait to see that in film!), and the general mastfulness of Winters' plan. I can recognize people now, and I'm really enjoying reading about their experiences."
09/26/2011 page 158
47.0% "I really appreciate the explanation of a soldiers' state of mind. It's sad and fascinating."
09/27/2011 page 165
49.0% "The Yanks who were rescued (159), calling "God bless you, Yank" and getting told to keep quiet else be shot. So fun to read of their rescue! Poor Winters, not in his element as XO."
09/27/2011 page 174
52.0% "Fun story about Malarkey, who actually won $3600 - and had to lose from $6000, else he'll have "near the whole company payroll"! Also nice to see almost everyone from Taccoa become a NCO, except Webster. And then the Ardennes. Nice summary. Just watched "Currahee" too and lovin' it! Such cinematography and acting. Winters is my favorite. :) Such a wonderful guy."
09/28/2011 page 179
53.0% "The great rush to Bastogne, the men from that front pathetically rushing away, the mad rush to get ammo... What must E Company have thought, going in? "We've beat these guys twice before; we can beat 'em again." Incredible."
09/29/2011 page 186
55.0% "Cute story about Medic Spina and Heffron, with the latter jumping into a German foxhole (180). The poor platoon which didn't make it..."
10/01/2011 page 196
58.0% "Poor Gordon and his wound. Got to see more of Lipton this stretch. Now I have images for these people. Amazing to read about their cold experiences, how Winters had a few white beans and cold broth for Christmas. And the temptation (which none of Easy took) to self-inflict a shot to the foot to escape. Wow, would I have done that?"
10/01/2011 page 213
63.0% "Just amazing stories from Bastogne, all so much more clear, now that I can picture the people: Christenson, German horseman & arrogant Kraut 197, Toye & Guanere seriously injured 201 (so heart wrenching), the topsy turvy world of combat 202, Luz blessed skipping friends’ foxholes to get to his 204, Spiers’ story 206, Winter’s run thrilled my heart 209, how Easy didn’t fail despite Lt Dike 210, Shifty Powers’ shot 212"
10/03/2011 page 223
66.0% "Winter's Dr Zhivago imagery 215, their coldest night 216, but success despite being outnumbered and outsupplied 219 - all because of the intense brotherhood of E Company 221, their unity despite replacements."
10/10/2011 page 238
71.0% "Fascinating to read of the soldiers' three thrills: arms fire, camaraderie, and destruction (227). And the patrol to get some German prisoners felt so exciting, especially since I could envision Winters and Nixon now. The poor injured Jackson, begging to be killed - and the injured German left for dead by the river. So graphic, so sad. But that is war. And I wish I could tell Webster I remember and feel as he does."
10/20/2011 page 248
74.0% "Great to see Easy relaxing. And poor Nixon escaping death with three others as one of the few 101st men on Varsity. Also, Spiers gets married! And they anticipate going into Germany. I absolutely love it that I have images for these guys now. I should have watched the show first! Which I'll do for the latter chaps now. Looked back at "Breaking Point" and again have better images."
11/17/2011 page 252
75.0% "Nice to finally get back in the groove of this book. I'd held off until I'd seen the associated episode, and it's paying off wonders. Now I know O'Keefe of the previous chapter and the way they made Luz/Perconte from Webster/Reese. But I read the last chap with sis. It was like the show all over again! Winters helping O'Keefe instead of cavorting in Paris. Reasons for love. Very interesting view of the Germans."
11/26/2011 page 264
79.0% "Interesting how the whole episode 9 was based on the last paragraphs of this chapter. So Easy did find a concentration camp. The film was accurate. And Winters thought, too, that "this is why we're here." Just like the episode."
11/27/2011 page 269
80.0% "Very fascinating info on Berchtesgaden (264-5), and the looting situation. Also, that every Greman was looking for soneone to surrender to. Nice exposition on the Winters/Welsh silverware scene and the photo album scene."
12/22/2011 page 284
85.0% "Nice to get back, after a long way away. It's all so very interesting - how Webster wasn't even in the German officer scene. How they dealt with the drinking, the points system. All very interesting."
12/23/2011 page 292
87.0% "Oh, the beauty of E Company, reading the end with R. So sad, that E Co just disappeared. But the respect for Winters is just plain inspirational. Beautiful, just beautiful."
12/23/2011 page 312
93.0% "Beautiful, beautiful. Read with my sister; made it all the more rich and wonderful. So lovely how Easy remained a band of brothers through life. Poor Sobel, suicide. Glorious that Sisk became a Christian. What people then. The WWII generation had hardships in and before war, so they were stronger in character than today. I'm so glad to experience some of that strength and be inspired. And to see R inspired as well."

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