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Excellent Books
on the U.S. Army
during WWII

MacDonald, Charles Brown, Company Commander, Publisher: Burford Books; 1 edition (December 1999), ISBN: 1580800386

MacDonald, Charles Brown, A Time for Trumpets, Publisher: William Morrow & Co; Reprint edition (April 1997), ISBN: 0688151574 

Wharton, William, A Midnight Clear, Publisher: Newmarket Press; (August 1996), ISBN: 1557042578
*Note that this book follows an I&R Platoon during the Battle of the Bulge

Astor, Gerald, A Blood-Dimmed Tide: The Battle of the Bulge by the Men Who Fought It, Publisher: Dell Pub Co; Reissue edition (December 1999), ISBN: 0440215749

Astor, Gerald, The Bloody Forest, Publisher: Presidio Pr; 0 edition (August 15, 2000), ISBN: 0891416994 

Rush, Robert S., Hell in Hürtgen Forest: The Ordeal and Triumph of an American Infantry Regiment, Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas; (November 2001), ISBN: 0700611282

Ambrose, Stephen, CITIZEN SOLDIERS: THE U S ARMY FROM THE NORMANDY BEACHES TO THE BULGE TO THE SURRENDER OF GERMANY, Publisher: Touchstone Books; Reprint edition (September 1998), ISBN: 0684848015 

Ambrose, Stephen, D-DAY: JUNE 6, 1944: THE CLIMACTIC BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II, Publisher: Touchstone Books; Reprint edition (June 1995), ISBN: 068480137X 

Ambrose, Stephen, Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals, Publisher: Touchstone Books; (September 2000),  ISBN: 0743200748 

Ambrose, Stephen, The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won, Publisher: Atheneum; (April 3, 2001), ISBN: 0689843615

Ryan, Cornelius, LONGEST DAY: THE CLASSIC EPIC OF D DAY, Publisher: Touchstone Books; Reprint edition (May 1994), ISBN: 0671890913 

Terkel, Studs, The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two, Publisher: New Press; Reprint edition (March 1997), ISBN: 1565843436 

Terkel, Studs, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, Publisher: New Press; (November 2000), ISBN: 1565846567
*Not about WWII but gives a good background to life during the Great Depression, which most soldiers in the ETO endured prior to induction in the service.

Salter, Fred H., Recon Scout, Publisher: Ballantine Books; (November 27, 2001), ISBN: 0345446933
*Note the book follows the 97th Recon Cavalry Scouts in their exploits throughout the North African, Sicilian, and Italian campaigns.

Blunt, Roscoe C., Foot Soldier: A Combat Infantryman's War in Europe, Publisher: DaCapo Press; (December 24, 2001), ISBN: 0306810905 

Gantter, Raymond, Roll Me over: An Infantryman's World War II, Publisher: Ivy Books; (July 1997), ISBN: 0804116059 

Recommended Movies
& Documentaries on WWII

Too often living historians view movies as a gauge on life during a period of history instead of a medium of entertainment.  The list below has been organized by several factors (1: material authenticity--is the gear and uniforms correct?; 2, behavioral authenticity--do the actors move and respond to fire properly?; 4, Historical Events--Are the historical events and timeline accurate?; 3, entertainment factor--Would you enjoy watching this movie even if it didn't meat all of the above mentioned criteria?).  With 1 star representing "Do not Recomend" and 5 stars represnting a "Highly recommend."  Movies, in themselves, should never serve as the only means to researching any period of reenactment, but as inspiration to do further research.

A Midnight Clear 1992, Rated: R, Studio: Columbia Tristar
Comments:  This movie is based upon William Wharton book by the same name and follows an I&R platoon from the 28th Infnatry Division on the eve of the Ardennes Offensive.  It is the only movie which specifically highlights the work of an I&R Platoon and for no other reason should be high on our viewing list.
Material authenticity
-At least one jeep was a post-war variant and each jeep was armed with only a .30 cal. BMG, which I&R vehicles generally did not have.  Bumper markings are way off base and generally I&R platoons were not in the habit of laying com wire; however, this is not necessarily a hard and fast rule.
Behavioral authenticity
-The movie, like the book stresses the breakdown of discipline and the attempt by a young Sargeant to keep his unit focused on the mission at hand.  In many regards the actions of these soldiers could be very accurate.
Historical Events
-The movie is spot on with regards to how I&R Platoons were used, especially the events leading up to the German breakthrough in the Ardennes.  The only problem comes about with the sequencing of events.  This event was suppose to take place on the eve of the Ardennes offensive, yet they are celebrating Christmas prior to December 16, 1944 which is the date that the German's launched their offensive.  Christmas would not take place for another 9 days and it is unlikely that they would celebrate it that early.

Entertainment factor
-Great story line, although the book is far better.  Ethan Hawk gives a great performance as "Will Knot"  the platoon's sargeant.  The movie is a bit depressing, but a good watch nonetheless.

The Longest Day 1962, Rated: G, Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Comments:  This movie is based upon Cornelius Ryan's book by the same name and covers the Normandy landings from a variety of view points.  There are some great scenes including the confrontation between the 4th ID’s divisional commander Gen. Raymond D. Barton (played by Edmond O'Brien) and assistant divisional commander Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (played by Henry Fonda).  No other movie has delved into the role the 4th ID played at Normandy better than this movie.
Material authenticity
-Plenty of postwar gear, but also plenty of war dated material.  Many of the LCVP's used in this movie were one's left by allied forces in Europe.  Too much postwar garbage though, including postwar airborne helmets, jeeps, etc...
Behavioral authenticity
-Terrible movement under fire, but considering it is G Rated and the early 1960's it could have been far worse.
Historical Events
-Follows Cornelius Ryan's book fairly closely and is especially mindful of the role that the British played in taking the Orne R. bridge and securing the canal.

Entertainment factor
-I've seen this movie hundreds of times and still enjoy it immensely.  Even with all of its problems, the story line is very comprehensive in its coverage of the Normandy landings.  There are so many great “dead” movie stars in this film, plus a few little known characters like Sean Connery, before he made it big.
 

When Trumpets Fade 1998, Rated: G, Studio: HBO Studios
Comments:  This movie is follows a seasoned veteran sargeant (played by Ron Eldard) from the 28th Inf. Div. during the bloody campaign in the Hürtgen Forest.
Material authenticity
-Gear is pretty my on the mark, with the exception of some German material.
Behavioral authenticity
-Probably one of the best examples of how not to use infantry in the 20th C. was what the Hürtgen Forest represented and this movie shows the futility of outdated infantry tactics being ordered by senior commanders where never even visited the front to inspect their troops situation first hand.
Historical Events
-Pretty much right on target, especially the scenes involving the bloody fighting in the Vossenack forest and the Kall trail are extremely explicit.

Entertainment factor
-When one sees this movie it is hard to believe that only a few weeks after the events in the Hürtgen Forest took plae the 28th ID and 4th ID would be back in it again within the dense Belgian forests of the Ardennes.  Great movie to watch.

Band of Brothers, Released 2002, Rated: NR, Studio: HBO VIDEO
Comments:  This is the epic 10 part HBO mini series which followed much of Stephen Ambrose's book with the same name.

Material authenticity

Behavioral authenticity

Historical Events

Entertainment factor

Saving Private Ryan, Released 1999, Rated: R, Studio: Dreamworks Skg, Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Director: Steven Spielberg

Comments:  This is the movie which rekindled serious interest in our country's involvement in WWII.  Focus is on a pieced together squad of Rangers and one poor sap from the 29th ID (Opum), who have been detailed to find and retrieve a trooper in the 101st. Abn.  The trooper played by Matt Damon, lost three of his brothers in various campaigns during WWII and he is the lone surviving son.  Loosely based on the Sullivan brothers, Albert Leo Sullivan, Francis Henry Sullivan, George Thomas Sullivan, Joseph Eugene Sullivan, Madison Abel Sullivan, who were all killed when their ship the USS Juneau was struck by several Japanese torpedoes off Guadalcanal.

Material authenticity
-Sticky Bombs?  Yup!  In a remote manual which most folks can hardly find.  Armor looked good, but German's (should I saw Poles/Russians/French/etc...) are portrayed like concentration camp victims with their heads shaved.  Not likely.
Behavioral authenticity
-Never create a silhouette of oneself while on patrol.  Shadows are your friend.
Historical Events
-Aside from it taking place in Normandy during the D-Day landings the fact that this kid lost several of his brothers in different theaters is hard enough to believe, but to place a small detail to retrieve his butt because General Marshall has a soft spot in his heart for orphans is a bit much.
Entertainment factor
-Great story line, even if it is far fetched.  Giovanni Ribisi gives a stirring portrayal of the important role of medics and corpsmen during WWII.
 


Pearl Harbor, Released 2001, Rated PG-13, Starring: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Director: Michael Bay

Comments:  This movie follows two characters from their childhood in depression era Tennessee, through flight school, then separation as one joins the RAF to fight in the Battle of Britain, then to be reunited just in time to be one of a handful of pilots to bag jap zeros on December 7th, 1941 only to be assigned to Jimmy Doolittle's raid.  There is also a love interest in this as well.

Material authenticity
-Nothing like seeing the Japs bomb a Aegis cruiser only to get shot down by BAR and .45 1911A1 weilding lunatics in a tower.  Love those nurses too!  I always said that I prefer them out of uniform, but not when on their duty station.
Behavioral authenticity
-Where to start...Hmmmmmm.  Its a sure bet that Cuba Gooding Jr. probably pissed off a few sailors on the moored ship next to the Arizona, when he pounded its deck with that 20mm Oerlikon deck gun while chasing that zero.  There is also a better than average chance that you will miss at least one target with a .45 1911A1 at ranges exceeding 50 yards while wounded. 
Historical Events
-If Saving Private ryan was a bit far fetched, this one was out of the ball park.  To have an individual travel trough flight school in the 1930's, join the American Eagle Sqdrn. of the RAF just in time to participate in the Battle of Britain, get shot down, then be fished out and sent back by the French underground just in time to travel to the United States, receive his duty station in time for the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor on december 7th, 1941, then shoot down several zeros in that engagement, only to be assigned to Jimmy Doolittle's raid. Is the ultimate definition of "FAR FETCHED."
Entertainment factor
-Cinematography is good, but acting is pitiful and drags what story line there is into the toilet.