Previous books have promised to describe the combat experience of the World War II GI, but there has never been a book like Patrick O'Donnell's Beyond Valor. Here is the first combat history of the war in Europe in the words of the men themselves, and perhaps the most honest and brutal account of combat possible. For more than 50 years the individual stories that make up this narrative - shockingly frank reflections of sacrifice and courage - have been bottled up, buried, or circulated privately. Now, nearing the ends of their lives, our WW II soldiers have at last unburdened themselves.
Beyond Valor recaptures their hidden history. A pioneering oral historian, Patrick O'Donnell used his award-winning website, The Drop Zone, to solicit oral- and "e-histories" from individual soldiers. Gradually, working from within the community, O'Donnell convinced some of the war's most battle-hardened soldiers to tell their stories. The result is WW II seen through the eyes of the men who saw the most intense of its action. O'Donnell focuses on the elite units of the war - the Rangers, Airborne, and 1st Special Service Force - troops that spearheaded the most dangerous operations and often made the difference between victory and defeat.
From more than 650 interviews O'Donnell has chosen oral- and e-histories that form a seamless story line, a pointillistic history of the war in Europe from the first parachute drops in North Africa through the final battles in Germany and the long trip home. It is the story of the war not discussed in polite company. O'Donnell presents the wreckage of entire battalions nearly annihilated, invisible personal scars, and hauntingrevelations of wartime atrocities. But more important are the men who recount lives risked without hesitation for comrades and cause, and those who did not return: the friends who died in their arms. Their stories remind all of us that victory came only at the highest price.
Remembering the infamous cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc, bloody Omaha Beach, the bitter fighting at the Battle of the Bulge, and Hill 400 in the Hurtgen Forest, the soldiers reveal war as seen, heard, and smelled by the GIs on the front line. Also included is the unique story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the trailblazing African-American "Experimental" Test Platoon that had to fight its own battle behind the lines.
©2001 Patrick K O'Donnell (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"The pioneering oral historian Patrick K. O'Donnell has done a wonderful job of making the experiences of America's elite troops come alive again in Beyond Valor. These riveting oral and e-mail accounts by glidermen and rangers and paratroopers are reminiscent of such books by Stephen E. Ambrose as D-Day and Citizen Soldiers. (Douglas Brinkley director of the Eisenhower Center and Professor of History at the University of New Orleans)
"[A] fresh, personal, and revealing look into the past." (Library Journal)
I can't get enough of the stories of these brave men. It amazes me to think of what they did for America, Europe and the free world. As usual another good narration by Scott Brick. I enjoyed this book almost as much as Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. If you enjoy stories of unbelievable courage and sacrifice you will like Beyond Valor.
The tie in of an historical narrative of an event,then followed by the oral history of one particular participant or several participants really made this a fascinating listen. You get the overview and whether the event was successful or not and then get the story from the ground level blow by blow instead of the a General's overview.
Scott Brick never fails to bring the book and story and the characters to life
I keep this book on my iphone or ipod and listen to it frequently in my car while driving; and have listened to the same passages and vignettes over and over. Each time the story seems new because more details come out
My two favorite topics are Baseball and Military History. But my favorite books of all time are Starship Troopers and Ready Player One.
...but as described by one of the Soldiers, (paraphrase) "I can't describe it for you, I can't describe the carnage, the death, the fear, the horror. One can only be there... it can't be described"
This book is everything that so many other books claim to be (i.e., the closest boots on the ground telling). I think this book is right there with Band of Brothers; although Beyond Valor focuses on the Soldiers' experiences and therefore lacks the overall scope of the European Theater of War. The author does attempt to put the oral histories in chronological order. But, this shouldn't be the basis of one's understanding of WWII, rather it should be supplemental to understand the true cost of battle and the aftermath from the survivors' perspectives.
Scott Brick is a fine narrator and I take nothing away from him, but I would've have preferred this audio book be narrated by multiple readers to be more associative with the many different oral histories presented. The narrator attempts to distinguish the voice of the author from that of the Soldiers, but after about two, all the Soldiers' voices merge to one. I had no problem listening to this book at 3x speed.
Seriously this book will now be required reading for my Soldiers. Anyone who claims to love the military and military members, must read this and hear from those Soldiers rather than just the historians discussing the strategic and tactical operations, the Soldiers are the ones who lived it.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
If you ask a history buff on what they have on World War I and II, it may shock you on the list of books that they have in their library regarding these events. There is a subculture among us that seek out every books that has been written on the World Wars. It's more than a genre or a hobby for many of us. Our fascination on these wars are almost like an addiction that we can't stop. We are always looking for next read to please our minds with infinite information.
For example, many of us wished that we can time travel back during that era on what it was like to live through the war.
"Beyond Valor" is another book that has been cataloged in my library for future reference on U.S. Army Ranger Battalions and Airborne. Personal stories from the men who fought in the air and the ground is some of the most excellent interviews that has been documented. Some might say that their stories lack in details. This is true for many of our Veterans that have fought in all wars. They only gives us snippets of their past on what it was like to be on the battlegrounds. This is my favorite part of this genre because we will never know the full scope in depth on what it is like to go to war, unless we are on the front lines.
No matter how much I read on this subject, there is always a personal mystery left behind at every last page. That is why I keep reading on the World Wars. Modern wars bores me because we are all connected and the information is available during the actual combat. There is no style of writing when reading about any modern wars. It's reproduction from news outlets and social media.
No war can compares to these World Wars because each novels, books, interviews and articles that I have read has compassion for their comrades.
Until you've heard these experiences by the men that were there you really don't have any concept. let's hope that this book at least helps bring them peace and help bring peace to the world
Excellent Book.A great Book about the Korean War and the hardships these Vets endured. I would recommend this book to anyone thats interested in American history or War.
This was an excellent audio book. The history overview was wonderful. The things these men went through. They truly gave so much for our freedom and the history is disappearing as we lose more of these vets every year.
This is an odd book. There was a project several decades ago to capture the stories of our WW2 participants before they were all gone. Thousands of interviews were conducted. O'Donnell apparently tapped into that body of work and collected the interviews from Rangers and Paratroopers. But he didn't just pick the stories of significant events, or significant incidents of hardship or valor, he picked stories that described social issues that he wanted on the skyline.
There's many dozen vignettes in the book. To my very great surprise most of them have some reference to an American committing, what in today's world would be considered, a war crime. I've read an awful lot of WW2 non-fiction first person accounts, and talked to many participants. My grandfathers, their brothers and male cousins were all in the war. I'm a former Marine and former Army Ranger and I've been involved in shooting matches in several continents. I have a decent feel for war in general and WW2 in particular. O'Donnell, by making sure that American war crimes were mentioned again and again, far out of proportion with how often they actually occurred, wanted very much for everyone to know that Americans were responsible for reprehensible acts.
O'Donnell also spent a lot of time on the one black Airborne Bn, the 555th, I think they were. Not because the 555th participants had stories that were a logical fit with the book's purported subject matter, but because he wanted to highlight American's miserable treatment of blacks. Sure, this was a transitional time and we were getting our collective head's out of our asses re. tolerating blacks, jews, etc. unlike much of the world that still hasn't, but the inclusion of the 555th stories were not about valor on the battlefields of WW2. The stories of the mistreatment of the 555th belong in a different book.
"Sneak home and pray you never know, the hell where youth and laughter go."
All American youth should read or listen to this as a part of their education. Look at America today, have already forgotten what these men fought for? Died for? They shared their stories with the author because they want our generation to remember the war, the horror, tragedy, loss, heroism, brotherhood and perhaps most of all the reason, that very same reason why each and everyone of them kept moving forward...
I feel deep regret at what has been done to this country in the past few years and the fact that these men have to watch it, their sacrifice being squandered by Entitled, Self-Rigtheous, Fools...they deserve better.
Broad based collection of oral histories of many different Paratroopers and Rangers from a wide variety of units. Tolerable but dull narration is the only downside.
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