The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II by Charles B. MacDonald

An Excellent General Military History

“The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II” by Charles B. MacDonald is an excellent general military history of the US forces in Europe in WWII. Mr. MacDonald served as a Company Commander in the 2nd Infantry Division during World War II. He also was one of the US Army’s official historians of World War II.

This lengthy book tells what the forces did and how they did it while not being pedantic. He includes many of the needed details that are necessary for understanding how the US Army was composed and armed. The details are foundational to understand how command decisions were made. This background really helps with an understanding of the political and personal rivalries that were an important part of World War Two’s history.

Written With a VIew of the Operational Level

Most of the book is written with a view of the operational level. MacDonald does this skillfully keeping it in the context of what was happening at the corps, army, and army group level, as well as in the realm of the overall strategy.

The author includes many descriptions of small battles, down to the company level. They serve to make readers understand, just what was happening on the ground once higher-level decisions were made.

The book’s scope is the American effort in the European Theater in World War II. Beginning in North Africa and ending on the Elbe River, Charles MacDonald describes the development and growth of the American soldiers, sailors, and airmen as they became essential players in the destruction of Nazi Germany. Included are the famous battles and campaigns like the landing in North Africa, Kasserine Pass, Salerno and Anzio, D-Day, the liberation of Paris, the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine, and the race across Germany. The subject matter of the book is very comprehensive. I like that he included the conflicts between American and other Allied leaders over strategy, the important Battle of the Atlantic, the air war, and the major land campaigns.

He does a great job starting with the delicate balance involved in the build-up to war, and the decision to concentrate on victory in Europe first. The famous personalities are described, including, Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, Mark W. Clark, Hitler, Mussolini, as well as other British and German military leaders which is informative and enlightening.

Stories of the Individual Soldiers

He does not neglect the stories of individual soldiers. They are included throughout the narrative.
The prose is solid and the text readable, having just the right amount of detail. The book is balanced, thought-provoking, very comprehensive, and provides context and perspective of these historic events.

If you only read one book on World War Two, this is the book you should read.

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The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker

The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker is a passionate, elegantly written (maybe the most beautiful prose I have ever read), historical novel about amazing hope, redemption, and one man’s quest for enlightenment during the darkest times of World War II.

The setting is Germany. The time is 1942. The protagonist is Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann. The story finds Anton torn from his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet.

The purpose of the move is a marriage of convenience. Anton needs a place to live. He weds Elisabeth Herter, a widow. She desires a marriage in name only to a man who can help support her and her three children. Anton seeks the union as a way to amend failing to shield his young students from the madness of the Nazis.

Neither Anton nor Elisabeth foresees their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war.

As Anton struggles to adjust to the roles of husband and father, he hears of the Red Orchestra. It is an underground network of militants plotting to assassinate Hitler.

While Elisabeth has reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. As the SS discovers his schemes, Anton begins a final act of resistance that may cost him his life. He realizes his defiance to Hitler, the SS, and Nazis could cost him the new family he has come to love more than he ever thought imaginable.

The Ragged Edge of Night is the best book I read in 2018 and in years. Olivia Hawker has crafted a masterpiece for the ages.

The Sekhmet Bed (The She-King Series, Book 1) by Libbie Hawker

My Review:

I loved the book. Libbie Hawker is one of today’s best writers of historical fiction writers. She is without a doubt a master storyteller. She had my attention early and kept me turning the pages. Her research for the book was excellent. Several times I would Google something mentioned in the story an would find she was spot on historically. I recommend the book and am now reading book 2 in the series. Well done!

Book Summary:

Queen Ahmose knows her duty: to give the Pharaoh a son. But she is young and has just watched her closest friend die in childbirth. If the Pharaoh plants his seed in her she will die the same way, in a pool of blood, surrounded by wailing women. She has her husband’s love, but a king must have an heir…and even the Pharaoh’s patience will run out. Meanwhile, a lesser queen – Ahmose’s own sister – has given him three sweet, bright children, all of them boys. Ahmose knows her grasp on the Pharaoh’s heart is loosening.

Desperate, she begs the gods for courage to become a mother. They give her more than courage: she is granted a vision of a shining prince, her son – a gift for Egypt who will bring glory to the land. He will be more than the son of a king. He will be the son of the god Amun.

But when the child arrives, it’s a girl.

Ahmose knows the vision was not wrong. Her daughter Hatshepsut has a male soul, and Amun intends the girl to rule. But the Pharaoh will not scandalize Egypt by proclaiming a female successor. If she cannot convince the Pharaoh to accept Hatshepsut as his heir, everything Ahmose loves will be destroyed. ~Stephanie Dray, author of the critically acclaimed Lily of the Nile.  

Source of Book Summary: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12398627-the-sekhmet-bed

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty crafted an amazing sci-fi book with Six Wakes.

I was me hooked early by the well-crafted story. It’s full of mystery, intrigue, and uses a premise I’ve never met before.  What’s the premise? Generational space travel by cloning.

The cloning isn’t to create multiple copies or versions of a person. Instead, it gives the ability for a person to live forever. When the person is cloned, the new body is twenty years of age. Through brain mapping, the memories, knowledge, and experience of the person forever increase as they have all the recollections and know-how of the old body they’ve replaced.

The book is too good not to read if you love science fiction filled with who done it. I dub Mur Lafferty the title of Master Storytelling goddess. No wonder the book was nominated for every sci-fi award. It is a murder mystery set in space with clones.

As I said, Mur Lafferty crafted an amazing sci-fi book with Six Wakes.


Photo Source: This is the front cover art for the book Six Wakes written by Mur Lafferty. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, Orbit Books, or the cover artist. It is used through Fair Use for the purpose of reviewing the book.

Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald

This past month I reread “Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II” by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend the book.

At just 21 years of age, Captain Charles B. MacDonald first commanded I Company, 3 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from October 1944 to January 1945 and later G Company, 2 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from March to May 1945.

This memoir was written in 1947 when recollections were still sharp. It resulted in a very detailed account of what it was like to take command of a line infantry company and lead it into battle.

The book gives us a template for writing a personal military memoir. It is by far the finest memoir of any junior officer in World War II.

Charles MacDonald does a great job of keeping his focus on his own experiences. He does not speculate or wastes my time by giving conjecture on the big picture. We only have first-hand information from the events of his personal participation.

He sticks to what life was like for a junior officer in command of an infantry company. We share his sleepless nights, hunger, the dirt and filth from lack of personal hygiene, stressful situations, and dangers. He takes us from the Siegfried Line in the Ardennes, through the Battle of the Bulge, and to the end of the war in the Czechoslovakia.

This book is a must-read for all US Army junior officers who seek to command at company-level. It is informative for military historians as well. It is still required reading at West Point and on the company level officer (second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain) recommended reading lists by the U.S. Army today.

Upon this book’s publication in 1947, Charles B. MacDonald was invited to join the U.S. Army Center of Military History as a civilian historian, the start of a career during which he wrote three of the official histories of World War II in Europe and supervised the preparation of others.

The book is simply the best. You will be turning the pages and feel as if you are there.