The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion

Douglas G. Brinkley, Author William Morrow & Company $22.95 (274p) ISBN 978-0-06-056527-5
On the 40th anniversary of D-Day, President Reagan chose the subtitle's battalion as a rhetorical peg on which to hang a commemoration of the entire U.S. war effort, a conceit that worked beautifully. Brinkley (Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War ) begins with the story of the assault Reagan referred to, in which a single company of these elite troops scaled a hundred-foot Omaha Beach cliff to attack what was believed to be a German artillery battery capable of wrecking the landing. The guns were not there; German resistance was; more than half the Rangers were casualties. The narrative then leaps forward to Reagan's search for an appropriate 40th anniversary topic--the topic he chose rose out of his reverence for WWII combat veterans (his eyesight kept him in the U.S.)--and the speechwriting talents of Peggy Noonan. Finally, there is Reagan's fan mail, including a letter from the daughter of a Sergeant Zanetta, who was killed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. All of this is known, but Brinkley clearly and movingly tells the story of how a simple tribute became a milestone in the historiography of WWII and another feather in the great communicator's cap. Agent, Lisa Bankoff at ICM . (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
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