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The Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II
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The Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
This is an account of the experience of the combat soldier based upon first-hand testimony from men who fought in the British, Commonwealth and American armies in all arms and on all fronts in World War II.
Paperback, 380 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Aurum Press (first published 1980)
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A.L. Sowards
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to A.L. by: Checkman
This was a good, readable book about American, British, and commonwealth troops during WWII. It discusses all the major theaters and highlights the similarities and differences between men in Northern Europe, Italy, the Pacific, Burma, North Africa. The book is organized thematically, which made it easy to read in sections. I would read a chapter here, a section there, putting it down when I needed to read a book with a due date and then picking it up again. I began the book months ago, but each ...more
Marc
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book sat on my shelf for over 30 years and I really wish it hadn't taken me that long to get around to it. Combining the personal experiences of American and Commonwealth soldiers in many different combat zones in World War II, this is a really good book on what the average combat infantryman went through. Over half of the book deals with soldiers fighting the Germans in North Africa, Italy and Europe, while the rest deals with fighting in the Pacific (mostly from an American point of view) ...more
Checkman
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history and WW II buffs
One of the first books to look at what the ground soldiers in World War II truly experienced. From conditions on the front line (infantry, artillery, armor and support troops), the particular stresses that officers experienced to how the men relaxed, the medical treatment they received and finally the horrors they experienced in combat.

This book was published in 1980 and at the time was rather controversial. I can recall the Military Book Club putting a warning about the material when the book
...more
Helen Fields
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book as research only but I loved the way it incorporates writing from soldiers of all nationalities from both World Wars, some of it poetry, some prose, some extracts from letters home. The book details the minutiae of life on the front line, from digging trenches in freezing conditions, to staying awake for 20 hours a day, to losing any sense of the world around except the will to live, even that lost at times. I particularly liked the sense you got that they had lost tr ...more
David Hill
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book covers the experience of the combat infantryman in the Allied armies in North Africa, Italy, North-East Europe, the Far East, and the Pacific. It is a bit anglocentric, giving a bit more weight to the British and Commonwealth soldiers; more emphasis on North Africa and Italy than the Pacific. Lots of extended quotes from primary sources and an excellent bibliography.

Part way through I was thinking I'd give it only 4 stars as it doesn't cover airmen or sailors and doesn't even mention th
...more
Martin Samuels
In the broadest of terms, most books on military history fall into one of four categories: firsthand accounts, technical studies of arms and armour, battle narratives, and strategy. When John Ellis's book was first published, in 1980, there were only a handful of studies that looked at the experience of soldiers from the perspective of fighting men as a general cohort, which might be very different from the particular experience of an individual soldier.

Ellis takes his readers through a logical
...more
David
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the subject
Recommended to David by: Mentioned by Paul Fussell in his books
Early work by a British historian who has written lots on WW II and WW I. This is an academic but very readable look at the lot in life (or death) of the (very small percentage of all soldiers and marines) who really did the killing and dying during the second World War. Treated thematically in eight chapters, including "The Physical Setting: climate and terrain -- digging in"; Discipline and Morale: officers -- discipline -- morale and combat fatigue -- panic and mutiny'; and "Attitudes: patrio ...more
Jesper Jorgensen
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
I guess most people can imagine the dangers, threats and challenges of the WWII grunts, to some extend. But after reading this book you will be left with absolutely no doubt that war was - and is - a very risky bussines.
Valerie
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, wwii
My dad lent this to me after I told him I had been reading a lot of WWII books lately.

All the books I read were memoirs of Holocaust survivors so it was interesting to change it up a little bit and read about what it was like for soldiers. I liked it, but it was a very slow read.
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John Ellis gained an MA in International Relations at the University of Sussex and took a PhD course in Military Studies at the University of Manchester.Ellis has been described by Len Deighton as 'one of the best historians we have', is the author of ten highly praised books, including A Social History the of Machine Gun, Eye-Deep in Hell, Brute Force, One Day in a Very Long War and The World War ...more
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