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5.0 out of 5 starsUntapped Diary of an 8th Division Officer.
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2002
Anyone interested in American history in general, or American military history in particular, will appreciate the discovery of an untapped diary of an American soldier. Gregory Daddis has unlocked one such diary of a young artillery officer in World War II. What is more, Daddis offers a history of one of the least mentioned, "work horse," divisions, as Russell F. Weigley discribes it in the Foreword, in the European Theater: the U.S. 8th Infantry Division. Daddis reproduces the daily journal entries of George Schwend verbatum. Schwend hides his emotions and sticks to logging his daily routine. Other than his obvious love for his fiance Jean at home, we never know his fears, hopes, aspirations or opinions. Yet the entries shed interesting insight to the training of the U.S. Army (Gen. Eisenhower called the 8th Division the best trained unit to enter the ETO). From the cultural aspect, Schwend lists every movie he saw in three years in the Army. In addition, Schwend's log shows the postal system during the war years, was quite efficient. According to Schwend's daily weather discriptions, except for scattered days, perhaps the weather in Europe (and the 8th Division was in the thick of it) was not abnormally cold as some historians have claimed. Throughout the book, Daddis placed Schwend and the 266 days the 8th Division saw combat from Normandy, Brittany, the bitter Hurtgen Forest, the crossings of the Roer and Rhine Rivers and the horror encountered at the Wobbelin concentration camp in overall perspective. As a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, Major Daddis offers some analysis of his own on combined operations, the role of artillery, and the command structure of the U.S. Army in World War II. Daddis draws from a wealth of sources including some unpublished manuscripts housed at the West Point library, used here for the first time. My only criticism is the book is too short. A valuable addition to the lexicon of the "citizen-soldier!"
Before I begin, I must acknowledge that this book was written by my nephew and it is based on his grandfather's (my father and name sake) WWII journals. Greg Daddis, the author, is a graduate of West Point, a veteran of Desert Storm and currently serving as a Major in the US Army. This is not 'Saving Private Ryan', but a very factual, meticulously researched and well documented perspective on WWII, as it correlates to the actual journal entries made by my dad as he began basic training, then on to Officer Candidate's School (90 day wonders), overseas for the build up in England, on to the war in Europe and his eventual return to the states. Greg makes a point of the fact that we fought WWII with a civilian army and my dad epitomizes that fact. More 'History Channel' then 'Hollywood'...Greg took no 'literary license' and included every journal entry exactly as it was written, without corrections or deletions...he then provided a detailed and documented historical perspective as it related to the entries that were being made in the journals and spaced throughout the book. As to my 5 star rating...it's a book written by my nephew who I'm very proud of, about my father who I loved dearly...what other rating could I possibly have given it? ;-)