Picks and Pans Review: Citizen Soldiers
A German tank regiment allows a lost American ambulance to retreat behind friendly lines (and is rewarded with a crate of Chesterfields). A cab driver from Chicago invents a critical new device for bulling through the French hedgerows the generals hadn't planned for. A star war reporter (Ernest Hemingway, in fact) writes fatuously about bicycling and French bistros as men die at the front.
Stephen E. Ambrose, the author of D-Day and numerous other books, proves once again he is a masterful military historian. He draws on interviews with scores of soldiers from both sides for this spellbinding, grunt's-eye story of the U.S. Army's march from June 7, 1944—the day after D day—to the German surrender on May 7, 1945.
Then as now, those final, excruciating 11 months of combat have been overshadowed by the Normandy invasion, but Citizen Soldiers convincingly shows that what followed was equally awe-inspiring. At the same time, the book captures the bizarre contradictions, random kindness and unexpectedly comic moments of the push to Berlin as memorably as a great war novel. (Simon & Schuster, $27.50)
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