I listened to this book having read a number of very engaging books about WWII. As a 47 year old male who never experienced war, I am fascinated by the bravery of men like Sparks who experienced brutality and bravery on a scale seldom matched.
Listening to this book while driving in my car to work, I found myself for the first time understanding the pain and sacrifice of men who moved toward danger and fought for an ideal. I cannot fathom what it was like on the beaches, caves and in the most terrifying situations but I can understand that these men are special and for that no amount of gratitude comes even close to thanking them.
The book really hit home when Sparks and his men liberated Dachau. With absolutely no frame of reference to see this living nightmare, it is no wonder that any of these men could even articulate what transpired. When one of the soldiers said "now I know what we were fighting against", nothing could have connected the dots better regarding the need to fight such an evil.
To anyone who wants to understand what war is like and look up to men who are real heroes...please listen to this book.
Research Technologist with deep interests in Host Cell - Pathogen Interactions & Cancer Research. I enjoy and mostly listen to Non-Fiction audiobooks on Medicine/Science, War and History. I also like to Game when I'm not in the lab.
Poignant, Gripping and Unfathomable Bravery.
Felix Sparks. Although he entered the war as a greenhorn, he had good tactics and commanding skills to lead a regiment that saw more action and endured worse than any other regiment or battalion in the history of WWII...not forgetting his LUCK to see it through to the end.
Fred Sanders is the great narrator by far. I really admired his ability to change his voice and play multiple characters with their corresponding accents. He is too good and I appreciate him reading this book.
Sparks loosing all his 230 men; all of whom he knew very well, scenes about strong men reaching their breaking point and becoming non-functional in the war again, young soldiers committing suicide when the war starts because of fear they had never experienced before, and brave good men dying after taking out a lot of Krauts all made me feel like crying......but was able to hold back.
This book has really broadened my scope on WWII and really want more books like this. It's a book you can hardly put away and wish for more chapters. I really didn't want this book to end and right now that I'm done with it, really feel like starting it again. It's a never forgetting story of bravery and all the men who laid down their lives to make the world a better place. God bless their souls and God bless us. We pray for such events NEVER to happen again in the history of Mankind.
I chose this book based on the marketing blurb. I expected a personal account of one man's 500 days. I got a high level recounting of the Allied Italian campaign, interspersed with a few personal recollections. What annoyed me the most were the "suppositions". Unable to say exactly what Sparks actually experienced, the narrative uses assumptions. "He probably spent the night scared." If I was being unkind, I would say this book perfectly shows the vast gulf between a general staff officer's view of battle and reality on the front lines. Except he was on the front lines. The book just doesn't have enough facts to tell the front line story. If you have not read Atkinson's wonderful book on the North African and Italian campaign, or if you have not read much about the second world war, or if you have not read really good personal accounts, then this will likely be entertaining and informative. As for me, I stopped reading half way through, because the book was not sharing any new information, it was omitting any details ("they survived that night's furious assault by defending themselves vigorously"), and it just wasn't interesting as a "personal account of one man's 500 days".
The book describes the depressing horrors of war, and it was hard at times to hear about how hard it was--for both Allies and Germans. I found the story of General Sparks and his experience of WWII ultimately inspiring and worth reading. You really get a sense of what it was like for him and the soldiers under his command. I had not heard of him before this book, and realize now what a great general and leader he was. My father was on the front lines in Europe and although toward the end of his life I was eventually able to get him to open up and share some of his experiences, this book really made it more clear to me just how tough it was for him. I have a new appreciation for the men and women who fought in that war.
The end was so touching.
It was wonderful to learn about some of the history of my state and the many sacrifices made during WWII.
The world's fastest fatman specialising in reviewing new and or unreviewed zombie titles see more at audiblereviews dot org
Sorry never read the print version
Despite being in hellish situations the good of men can come to fore
Not a chance
Say something about yourself!
I listen to a lot of WWII history. This book is a fine example of Lt. Col Sparks, the 157th Infantry Regiment, and their long, hard war from Salerno and Anzio, through the invasion beaches in the south of France, and on into Germany. LTC Sparks saw a hell of a lot of combat, and in areas that are often neglected by the popular histories.
But that's all covered at least as well in other books. Audie Murphy's "To Hell And Back" gives a better idea of the exhaustion, and fatalistic pessimism that comes with being in combat for the better part of two years.
Where this book gets really interesting is at the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp at the end of the war as it deals, unflinchingly, with the summary execution of SS troopers captured as Dachau was being liberated.
That is not a story often told; that prisoners of war were killed by both sides. And that part of the book, the subsequent investigation, involvement of Patton, and doubts that lingered for more than 40 years, were the parts of the book that make it stand out from other histories.
I recommend this book, but not to everyone. It was a good read, and I am glad to have learned more about Felix Sparks, and his war.
Powerful Enlightening Real
When he got out of a tank to rescue his men and the SS decided not to shoot out of respect for a ranking officer that would do such a thing
My favorite scene was the whole story about the concentration camp and Colonel Sparks reaction to the shooting of the guards and his respect for human life regardless of the situation he was in. This was coupled with his reaction to the General that wanted a photo opportunity. I was touched by someone who could witness such horrors and maintain such decency in all of it - a true hero.
There were several shocking scenes in this book that made the reality of war come to light.
This is an excellent book!
Felix Sparks, of course!
I enjoyed Fred Sanders performance. Listening to the foreign names is preferable to reading them.
This story broke my heart a hundred times over. How did anyone survive this? Much less come back and create such a normal life?
Felix Sparks comes across as an amazing but perfectly believe-able person caught up in WW2.
It also tells the story of a different front for the US Army in Western Europe in WWII.
From Sicily to Italy to Southern France, then across the Siegfried line into southern Germany.
As one of the GIs said when asked "Which beach did you land on" - implying Normandy, he said "We landed on so many beaches we lost count".
Also keep listening to the end, the story doesn't end in 1945.