AIRBORNE: A Combat History of America's Airborne Forces

E. M. Flanagan, Jr., Author Presidio $27.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-89141-688-3

While the word "paratroopers" is conspicuously absent from the title (perhaps as a corrective to their glamorization), this account from Flanagan (Lightning: The 101st in the Gulf War) emphasizes the WWII development and deployment of paratroopers. Vietnam and Gulf War chapters account for fewer than 100 of the nearly 500 pages here, and ground fighting is decidedly not emphasized. Flanagan assumes a basic knowledge of military terminology, but provides strategic and tactical background throughout, which somewhat limits the amount of combat action material included. Combat jump episodes are well leavened with the experiences of individual soldiers (taken from memoirs and recollections), beginning in North Africa in 1942 and continuing through Sicily (where troops were caught in friendly anti-aircraft fire), New Guinea, an abortive 1943 jump on Rome and smaller Italian operations leading up to D-Day in Normandy in June 1944. Ground fighting during the Battle of the Bulge and several glider landings are also covered, and there is a refreshing amount of testimony relating to Pacific operations. Retired three-star general Flanagan was a West Point graduate in 1943 and served with airborne forces in the Pacific during WWII and in Korea. Though he does not use the first person, the weight of those experiences comes through clearly here. (Jan.)

Forecast:As the press material notes, airborne operations were the focus of the film Saving Private Ryan and the miniseries Band of Brothers. Reaching fans of those productions may prove difficult, however, so long after their initial releases.

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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