My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I watched the miniseries before I read the book. And maybe that’s a good thing, since I wasn’t picking at the miniseries, comparing it to the book.
As far as I could tell, the miniseries was a pretty faithful adaptation. But I digress. I come to discuss the book, not the miniseries.
The book follows a company of paratroopers through their experiences in Europe during World War II, from their basic training to their drop into Normandy on D-Day through the end of the war. The author follows a few of these men with particular care, and his telling of their personal war stories adds a human element to the historical accounts.
What makes Band of Brothers such a remarkable book is that the stories are true. Men really fought with this sort of bravery. They really endured these harsh, unbearable conditions. These men from all over the United States were largely ordinary, blue-collar men, but they fought with extraordinary courage.
Stephen Ambrose spent years gathering all of the information for this book. He got to know many of the men he wrote about, and heard these stories from their own lips. Despite receiving conflicting accounts regarding certain events (which he discloses), he writes about them as faithfully as he can.
Ambrose writes directly; his language isn’t too flowery, which is appropriate, considering the horror of war. He matter-of-factly describes the grim realities of war and, in doing so, echoes the matter-of-factness that many veterans show when they describe their experiences in the trenches. They don’t see that they’ve done anything particularly heroic. They simply fought hard because it was the right thing to do.
This book is a rare achievement. Kudos to Stephen Ambrose for capturing the remarkable story of Easy Company for generations of Americans to read, enjoy, and remember.