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.
Dr. Melinek has written a fascinating and compelling book, and does a good job at showing the human aspects to her job as a medical examiner. Some of the details of what happens in an autopsy will make your skin crawl, but let's be honest, that's partly why you buy this sort of book.
The case histories are all interesting, if sometimes disturbing or heart-wrenching, but she comes across as a thoughtful professional who does a difficult job with dedication and compassion.
The majority of this book is similar to what's found in Stiff, and the Poisoner's Handbook, and will very much appeal to fans of those books.
But this book is more than that. Dr. Melinek was working for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York on 9/11/2001, and she offers a look into what happened out of the public's view in the weeks and months after the attacks.
If you think you might be interested in forensic science, I cannot recommend this book any more highly.
I'm a fan of the "Lost Voices" series of audiobooks, which intermixes the stories of a dozen or so people into a single narrative. Except those books use the original source material - recordings of the actual people telling their stories.
This book uses a narrator who makes up voices for the Marines. And many of them are similar to one another. This started out as extremely annoying, but faded to only mildly so halfway through the book, as the stories of these Marines took center stage. Honestly, the narrator could have read the book as Daffy Duck and I wouldn't have cared!
These stories were gathered recently - after the Pacific miniseries aired, but you'll see many of the same people and personalities from a different point of view. Personal stories of Lekie (Helmet for my Pillow), Sledge (With the Old Breed), Haldane, Chesty Puller, and John Basilonge. The book really adds depth to these famous personalities. Makes them more human. More complex.
Most of these types of books have a phrase or story that sticks with me for a long time. The one from this book will be this: When Medal of Honor recipient John Basiglone was married in 1944, he had 4 other sergeants act as groomsmen at his wedding. Of the 5 guys, 3 would be killed on Iwo Jima, and the other two wounded, one losing an arm.
Anyway, I recommend this book, especially if you've watched the Pacific, and/or read the other books mentioned above.
The stories are fantastic. The book is far too short, and sounds like it was recorded with a hand-held micro cassette recorder, placed 20' from the subject. The sound quality is bad. Really awful. Unintelligible in parts.
That said, I strongly prefer hearing these stories from the vets themselves rather than an actor reading lines.
I would buy dozens more books like this, poor sound quality and all.
I want to like the book, but it comes across as fairly dry, despite the sometimes exciting material.
My download has a production problem in that 2 hours in part 1 are repeated. I'm not sure if that's a Blackstone problem or an Audible problem.
A tremendously interesting story about how museum curators went on the front lines to save, salvage and rescue much of Europe's cultural heritage as the Allied war machine marched towards Berlin. Some wonderful characters, working secretly to document what the Nazis had taken, from whom, and to where.
I'm glad the Army spent time and effort preserving these treasures. I've seen many of the rescued works in churches and museums across Europe. But this story is a footnote to WW2; the author seems like he's trying to make heroes out of his main characters. Undoubtedly some of them were brave and physically courageous. But heroes?
A worm's eye view of a selected few vignettes of the author's life before and during his service in VietNam.
The author is long-winded, repeats himself, tells stories out-of-order, says the same things over and over again, and weaves several threads of narrative in and around one another in a manner reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut. Some people may like that.
But not me.
I was expecting another D-day-only narrative when I bought this book. Something to compliment Ryan and Ambrose. I was pleasantly surprised to get much more, since the book covers the European campaign in some detail from D-day until the liberation of Paris, with much time being spent on the siege of Caen, the battle for the Falaise Pocket, and the capture of Paris.
The narrator did a decent enough job, except he imitated accents when speaking in the voice of American, French, or German people. He even had voices he did for Monty and Churchill.
The practice hit a very discordant note, and distracted from the narrative.
I've read or listened to several histories of Bletchley Park. This one does a great job of letting you know what it was like for the people who were there. How the food was. What the conditions were at their billets. How so many people could work in such close proximity and rarely see one another. How the secret of Ultra could have been kept by so many, for so long.
And, yes, what sorts of contributions to the war they were making, whether they knew it at the time or not.
Jim Calvert went on an astonishing 9 war patrols in WW2 submarines, and later went on to be one of the highest ranking officers in the Navy.
This is an astonishing book, marred by some unevenness in the production quality. Still a great listen.
I stopped listening once arrests were made; the last third of the book held no mystery, and so I lost interest.
The planning and execution of the heist was enthralling, though.
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