Abundance of Valor: Resistance, Survival, and Liberation: 1944–1945

Will Irwin, Author Presidio $28 (378p) ISBN 978-0-345-50176-9

Allied special operations units fight and flounder in the ill-fated Market-Garden offensive in this colorful but unfocused WWII picaresque. Former Special Forces fighter Irwin (The Jedburghs ) recounts the exploits of three-man “Jedburgh Teams” sent into German-occupied Holland to organize Dutch resistance fighters in support of General Montgomery’s infamous “bridge too far” debacle. The author focuses on two Americans: Lt. Harvey Allan Todd, who was taken prisoner by the Germans at Arnheim, and Maj. John Olmsted, who organized a secret intelligence network behind enemy lines. There’s not much shape or significance to these largely unrelated plot lines, which concern some of the most ill-conceived and useless operations of the war. Olmsted lost important enemy plans; in Todd’s case, an American rescue force is captured by the Germans and imprisoned in the very POW camp it was supposed to liberate. Still, the author vividly recounts many varieties of WWII experience: blood-and-guts combat set pieces; a tense espionage thriller; and a harrowing captivity narrative. Irwin’s angle on the oft-told Market-Garden fiasco doesn’t make for a grand epic, just a collection of well-told war stories. Photos, 4 maps. (Mar. 23)

Reviewed on: 01/11/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-1423-8
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