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Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II

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As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the gr As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the great, true, unforgettable war stories of all time.


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As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the gr As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the great, true, unforgettable war stories of all time.

30 review for Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    Supurb memoir of a Company Commander who joins his unit as a replacement in the fall of 1944. He earns a Silver Star for holding back the German advance at the southern edge of the "Bulge" longer than anyone thought possible, then drives through to meet the Russians on the Elbe. Without a pause, he's transferred to Third Army thrusting deep into Czechoslovakia, and makes it past Pilsen when the war ends and he again meets the Russians. Like anyone, especially a replacement Captain, he's terrifie Supurb memoir of a Company Commander who joins his unit as a replacement in the fall of 1944. He earns a Silver Star for holding back the German advance at the southern edge of the "Bulge" longer than anyone thought possible, then drives through to meet the Russians on the Elbe. Without a pause, he's transferred to Third Army thrusting deep into Czechoslovakia, and makes it past Pilsen when the war ends and he again meets the Russians. Like anyone, especially a replacement Captain, he's terrified he won't perform in battle; that he won't earn the respect of his men. Steady on the outside, and often called upon by his Colonel for dangerous advances, he thinks to himself "Here it comes, here it comes," over and over each time he goes on the attack. It must have worked. This isn't a grunt's eye view, nor is it the big picture. It's in between, and Charles McDonald is a perceptive writer: I could "see" most of the tactical situations he describes. What the book lacks is significant personal connection between the author and his men, or even his family, or girl, back home. All is eclipsed by the responsibilities of a Company Commander--and, facing daily barrages from German 88mm guns, I can't say I blame him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    This was written shortly after the end of the war. The author went on to become a military historian and his experiences as a company commander parallel those of Winters in Band of Brothers. This is not for the faint-hearted and the names have not been changed to protect the innocent - or the dead. His men are revealed with all their flaws. As the author says in his preface: "to make a story of a war authentic you must see war--not a hasty taste of war but the dread, gnawing diet of war, the hor This was written shortly after the end of the war. The author went on to become a military historian and his experiences as a company commander parallel those of Winters in Band of Brothers. This is not for the faint-hearted and the names have not been changed to protect the innocent - or the dead. His men are revealed with all their flaws. As the author says in his preface: "to make a story of a war authentic you must see war--not a hasty taste of war but the dread, gnawing diet of war, the horrors and the fears that are at first blunt testimony that you are a novice and then later become so much a part of you that only another veteran, through some sixth sense, may know that those same horrors and fears are yet there." The introduction provides some context. "An infantry regiment with on-paper strength of a little more than 3,000 might lose over twice that many in less than a year of combat." The author of the introduction suggests that "such casualty rates played havoc with the concept of 'Band of Brothers' . . .An infantry company's makeup was constantly changing." Wounded being sent back to the front rarely were returned to their original outfits. Casualty rates among the infantry -- note that Winters was airborne -- were staggering. They suffered "more than 90% of the casualties in Europe." Marshall's "ninety-division gamble," an attempt to keep the army as small as possible -- something I had no clue about -- is so reminiscent of Rumsfeld's similar attempt with its consequent disaster in Iraq. Marshall's reasoning was to apply as much resource as possble to war production and air and naval power. Plus ca change....... This is the unvarnished memoir of combat. Sometimes retreats occur against orders. Often superior officers flee the battlefield, then write each other up for medals. Fear is omnipresent, atrocities happen, hot showers become more than luxeries. He dreaded sending out patrols at night to collect information they had already reported to headquarters just so the rear brass could type up more reports. He and his men have little respect for the higher ranks. "It seemed that since we were now in a 'quiet' position that every officer in the division with the rank of major or above wanted to inspect the company area. The condemned the men for not having shaved or for wearing knit wool caps without their helmets, evidently an unpardonable misdemeanor, or for untidy areas around the dugouts. The officers did not inspect my 1st Platoon area, [stationed farthest foward and subjected to random shelling:] however, usually passing it over with the excuse it was too far to walk, but we laughed inwardly, knowing it was the threat of enemy shelling that kept most of them away." MacDonald was thrown into combat as a captain replacement officer with little or no combat experience. He was assigned company I, a group that swore action followed them around. As soon as they were pulled from a an intense sector, it quieted down. When they were assigned to a previously quiet area, the Germans would attack with a bayonet charge or something smilar. Following several months in relatively static defensive positions, his company is quickly rounded up and sent to back up the 99th Inf. Division that had been counterattacked and mauled after they had attempted to take some dams to prevent their destruction. MacDonald's account of moving to the front in snow, setting up his men with not enough ammunition, the chaos and opacity of battle is simply amazing. ' "Which way's the enemy?" I asked [of the colonel:]" "I dunno. [he replied:] Nobody seems to know a goddamned thing. They say it's that way," and he motioned with one arm to the east.' The small military horizon of the company commander was striking. They maintained closest contact with companies on their flanks; some with Battalion, very little with Division, Corps is almost unimportant. Maps and map reading ability was crucial. The British had been given responsibility for mapping Europe; they were forced to use mostly WW I maps, but updated them with aerial reconnaissance whenever possible. The aerial map readers provided some astonishing information. They could recognize defensive positions by noticing darker grass. Dew would fall off barbed wire nourishing the grass underneath the wire more effectively hence making it more visible from the air. What's amazing to me is how well MacDonald did with his men, perhaps a tribute to the training he had received. The story is recounted in such a matter-of-fact way, that the day-to-day horrors somehow become that much more memorable for their ordinariness. Note: a really nice foldout map accompanies the History Book Club edition.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cold War Conversations Podcast

    Real life at the sharp end of World War 2. Written very shortly after hostilities ceased in that classic veteran’s matter of fact style, Macdonald 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. However this is different from many memoirs in that he does mention atrocities, and the flaws in officers and men, although names are changed. This is not grand strategy, indeed grand strategy is an irrelevance where he and Real life at the sharp end of World War 2. Written very shortly after hostilities ceased in that classic veteran’s matter of fact style, Macdonald 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. However this is different from many memoirs in that he does mention atrocities, and the flaws in officers and men, although names are changed. This is not grand strategy, indeed grand strategy is an irrelevance where he and his men are. Macdonald concentrates on the realities for a green junior officer in command of an infantry company, whilst coping with sleeplessness, hunger, dirt, stress, and danger. Apparently it is still required reading at West Point. It should also be required reading for any politician thinking of sending men & women to war. Originally published in 1947 and I’m again glad that Endeavour Press reprinted this classic in this digital edition.

  4. 4 out of 5

    JD

    Great World War 2 memoir by a young replacement company commander who has to lead battle-hardened men into battle and passes all his tests despite early self doubt. A real page turner that is not filled with the big strategies of battle, but just about young men fighting and surviving during the hard winter months of fighting on the Western Front in 1944/45.

  5. 5 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    This book tells the author’s experiences in WWII. He begins his war in the autumn of 1944 as a young replacement captain assigned to command a veteran company. In the early days of his time on the line, he struggles to gain the respect of the men he commands and worries about how he will react to war. His unit spends time on the Siegfried Line, and participates in the Battle of the Bulge. After an injury, Mac is assigned to a new company and with the arrival of spring pushes into Germany and the This book tells the author’s experiences in WWII. He begins his war in the autumn of 1944 as a young replacement captain assigned to command a veteran company. In the early days of his time on the line, he struggles to gain the respect of the men he commands and worries about how he will react to war. His unit spends time on the Siegfried Line, and participates in the Battle of the Bulge. After an injury, Mac is assigned to a new company and with the arrival of spring pushes into Germany and then into Czechoslovakia, fighting until May of 1945. Mac’s perspective is an interesting one. He was usually near the front line but not in a foxhole. He saw more of the big-picture than the privates did, but was also much more aware than higher-ranking officers of the individual deaths each push brought. The account includes some tense moments, some sad moments, some funny moments, and the reminder that war is not easy on those who participate. The book drew me in from its preface, when the author says: “The characters in my story are not fictional, and any similarity between them and persons living or dead is intentional, and some of them are dead.” The ending, with Mac’s unit liberating areas of Czechoslovakia and receiving an enormously warm welcome from the people, was touching. I thought it was a great ending, until I remembered Czechoslovakia's status during the Cold War. For the people living there, having the US Army in town was probably the best week from 1938 until 1989. 4.5 stars, rounding up.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book has been a staple of military professional reading lists since it came out in 1947, and it is easy to see why. For one thing, there is nothing extraneous about it. Like Homer’s epics, it starts in medias res, in the middle of things. MacDonald never mentions his childhood, his family, the girl he left behind, or even his previous Army experience. It begins with him as the newly appointed commander of I Company, 23rd Infantry, detraining with his men and forming up to march to the front This book has been a staple of military professional reading lists since it came out in 1947, and it is easy to see why. For one thing, there is nothing extraneous about it. Like Homer’s epics, it starts in medias res, in the middle of things. MacDonald never mentions his childhood, his family, the girl he left behind, or even his previous Army experience. It begins with him as the newly appointed commander of I Company, 23rd Infantry, detraining with his men and forming up to march to the front lines. It ends when the war in Europe ends. Throughout the book MacDonald maintains a clear focus on his experiences, the men he fought with, and how he solved the tactical problems of implementing orders from above. The grand strategy of the war was irrelevant to him; everything above battalion level was someone else’s problem, usually someone far behind the lines who was making decisions without a clear understanding of what it would take to carry them out. Much like the British Tommies of World War I were contemptuous of “red-tabbed butchers,” the staff officers safe in the rear, MacDonald had a low opinion of the division and corps officers who sometimes came to his positions – but never close enough to be in actual danger – and criticized the soldiers for not having shaved or for their positions not being tidy enough, then scurried back to hot meals and warm beds, where they would no doubt write each other up for citations of valor. The other lesson that MacDonald teaches is that it is alright to be scared and confused, because combat is always scary and the fog of war makes even simple things confusing. He also agonized over the fate of men sent on patrols, especially when he knew there was no purpose to them: the soldiers would only find things that the staff already knew. And yet, every step could mean a booby trap, a mine, a sniper, mortar barrage or machine gun strafe. It was a hell of a thing to ask men to put their lives on the line for the sake of a report that no one would ever read. On the front lines fear was ever-present, and the key was to learn to live with it, to use it to force you to think about what you were doing without letting it incapacitate you. Prior to his arrival MacDonald’s company had landed at Normandy on D+1 and fought their way across France in battle after bitter battle. At one point it was down to fifty men, which is especially depressing considering that a full strength infantry company would have had 193 men, of whom 152 were front line soldiers (three rifle platoons and one weapons platoon of 38 men each). The other forty or so would have been cooks and clerks and medics and communications specialists who would not normally have been in combat, so for I Company to have been down to 50 men suggests that it had essentially run through its fighting strength. MacDonald’s baptism of fire was in a “quiet” sector (cue ominous music and foreshadowings). The position was awkwardly placed and in full view of the Germans on the hill above them, with the platoons separated from each other in order to hold the assigned stretch of line, and even then there were gaps between MacDonald’s company and the ones on his flanks. Any movement during the day brought quick and accurate fire down on them. Each side sent out patrols, called in artillery support, killed a few of the enemy and lost a few of their own. It was a quiet sector. When they were relieved MacDonald noted that their replacements were from a division fresh off the boat, so new that they were still wearing their neckties as they moved into position. Almost as an aside, he mentions that they were from the 106th Division, and leaves it to the reader to know what that meant, that the 106th was destroyed days later in the initial German assault of the Battle of the Bulge, resulting in one of the largest surrenders of US troops in history. These included Kurt Vonnegut, who would reference the battle and its aftermath in Slaughterhouse-Five. (There is a good description of what happened to the 106th and why at https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war....) Moving to new positions I Company received drafts of replacements and wounded men returning to duty, until it was back up to full strength, and even over-strength in officers. They were moving to support a push into the Ruhr to take control of the dams there when the Germans unleashed their attack in the Ardennes. The best section of the book is MacDonald’s description of the chaos that ensued. The German assault broke American lines throughout the sector, and he lost contact with the companies on his left and right, and then with his battalion command. Facing overwhelming pressure, short of ammunition, cut off, and under attack by tanks when he had no anti-tank weapons, he held out for as long as he could and then ordered the few men he still had contact with to fall back. It looked like his company had been destroyed and he wondered whether he would be court martialed for abandoning his position. As it turned out, most of his men had already bugged out without waiting for orders, and he had held out far longer than could have been expected, slowing the German advance. Instead of a court martial he eventually received the Silver Star and almost all of his company survived to be reconstituted when order was restored. By that time he was no longer with them, having taken a bullet to the leg and been evacuated to a hospital. By the time he was returned to duty I Company had a new commander, and he was given command of G Company, which he would lead to the end of the war. He gives place names for every village and town they passed through, almost a day by day account of their movements. I was surprised how much of Germany they crossed between January and May 1945. In the end they were almost as far east as Berlin. Those last months included days of rapid advance, but the Germans fought on tenaciously, and there was bitter fighting yet to do. Having seen men under his command killed, he had no sympathy for the Germans, soldiers or civilians. Wounded Germans were sometimes left behind, to almost certain death, and he was unconcerned when American artillery fire obliterated towns. He even mocked one elderly couple trying to save their burning house, yelling at them that Hitler did this, blame Hitler. MacDonald was not by nature a cruel man, but war makes beasts of us all. Destroyed property did not count for much when put up against his own dead soldiers. The war ends with his battalion in Czechoslovakia, amid the wildly celebrating population. The reader gets a sense once more of foreshadowing, since we know, as those happy Czechs did not, that the scourge of Nazism was about to be replaced by the iron fist of Stalinism. The book does an excellent job showing what it was like to be there in the midst of the fighting and dying. MacDonald and the soldiers he describes feel like real real people rather than simplistic recruiting poster images of heroism, stoicism, and courage. Combat is exhausting, terrifying, and eats away at your sanity, and all anyone wants is for it to end. Company Commander is a classic war memoir, and highly recommended for anyone with an interest in its subject. Those who like this book and want a very different take on the war might also want to read Paul Fussell’s Doing Battle. Fussell was an Army platoon commander and was also wounded in combat. He served honorably and well, but he was appalled by the incompetence and idiocy he saw around him in the army.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    I first read this book based upon the recommendation of a school friend way back in the early 80's. At the time I had never read a first person account of the war. Up to that point I had pored through my dad's old copy of the American Heritage Pictorial History of World War II which whetted my appetite for more on the subject. This was the book that opened the floodgates and led to me seeking out as many first person accounts as I could get my hands on. I have since read it several more times, b I first read this book based upon the recommendation of a school friend way back in the early 80's. At the time I had never read a first person account of the war. Up to that point I had pored through my dad's old copy of the American Heritage Pictorial History of World War II which whetted my appetite for more on the subject. This was the book that opened the floodgates and led to me seeking out as many first person accounts as I could get my hands on. I have since read it several more times, but not for many years. It is a good read, but doesn't seem to be quite on the level with other books like With The Old Breed, To Hell and Back and If You Survive, all of which I have continued to return to over the years. Nevertheless, this book holds a special place for me and someday I'll dig my old Bantam copy out and give it another read. I recently found this on the Amazon lending library and eagerly downloaded it to see if I liked it as much now as I did when I was younger. The short answer is "yes." MacDonald's writing style is excellent and easily read and his story compelling. He does a good job making the reader feel the stress and uncertainty of being a leader of men in combat. This book certainly deserves the good feelings I recalled from my youth. If I were to rate the books I mentioned in the above paragraph I would still rate Sledge's "With The Old Breed" as the best of the lot. This one is a close second followed by George Wilson's "If You Survive" and Murphy's "To Hell And Back." I recommend this book highly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Charles B. MacDonald is an eminent military historian who wrote narrative histories of the Battle of the Bulge and the Hurtgen Forest. This is his memoir of his experiences as a (very) young infantry company commander in Europe during 1944-45. The writing was very engaging and gave a sense of immediacy. Throughout the book, the depressing experience of winter war was conveyed quite vividly. His experiences and decision making processes as a commander in WW II are no different than what some of u Charles B. MacDonald is an eminent military historian who wrote narrative histories of the Battle of the Bulge and the Hurtgen Forest. This is his memoir of his experiences as a (very) young infantry company commander in Europe during 1944-45. The writing was very engaging and gave a sense of immediacy. Throughout the book, the depressing experience of winter war was conveyed quite vividly. His experiences and decision making processes as a commander in WW II are no different than what some of us have experienced in today's COE. This was a very good book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

    Want a snippet of what it's like to command an American infantry company in the push from France into Germany during ww2? This may be the book for you. It's an autobiogrpahical account of Charles MacDonald, a newly minted captain with no combat experience who became a replacement commander for a battle hardened company and had to earn their trust and confidence. The company ended up in Czechoslovakia at wars end. Although at first this book didnt strongly appeal to me, I became more attached it Want a snippet of what it's like to command an American infantry company in the push from France into Germany during ww2? This may be the book for you. It's an autobiogrpahical account of Charles MacDonald, a newly minted captain with no combat experience who became a replacement commander for a battle hardened company and had to earn their trust and confidence. The company ended up in Czechoslovakia at wars end. Although at first this book didnt strongly appeal to me, I became more attached it to as its journey progressed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Manray9

    The most dangerous job in combat is that of a junior officer leading infantry. MacDonald not only survived, he excelled. His "Company Commander" is a great first-hand account of World War II in western Europe. The most dangerous job in combat is that of a junior officer leading infantry. MacDonald not only survived, he excelled. His "Company Commander" is a great first-hand account of World War II in western Europe.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jimmie Aaron Kepler

    Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. 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 recollecti Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. 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 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 waste 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, sleepless, hungry, dirty, stressful, and very dangerous. 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 army officers who seek to command at company-level and 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 list 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. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler in June 2006.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Dawson

    What I enjoyed most was the frankness in the story. Captain MacDonald is sent to relieve the current CO of company on the Siegfried Line. He is informed that the last group who were quartered in the bunker were blasted out by a half-track German flamethrower. He vows to not let this happen to him and his men. His main concern is being a newly minted Captain, will the battle-weary veterans accept him into their confidence? After a few skirmishes and shellings, his fears subside. His unit is caugh What I enjoyed most was the frankness in the story. Captain MacDonald is sent to relieve the current CO of company on the Siegfried Line. He is informed that the last group who were quartered in the bunker were blasted out by a half-track German flamethrower. He vows to not let this happen to him and his men. His main concern is being a newly minted Captain, will the battle-weary veterans accept him into their confidence? After a few skirmishes and shellings, his fears subside. His unit is caught up in the Battle of the Bulge were his group is part of the hastily assembled force that thwarts the efforts of Deitrick’s Sixth Panzer Army from breathing through. I enjoyed this description as it only centered on their struggle rather than the grand strategy. The second part of the story follows Patton’s Third Army drive into Germany. Some might not enjoy the nonchalance of the treatment of German prisoners or lack thereof. Remember, these men were watching their bodies being killed by men who brought a lot of death and destruction to Europe. Many today would vilify their actions, but then, we weren’t there to judge them. His recounting of capturing Leipzig is great. How many would love to lay claim to accepting the surrender of Germany’s fifth largest city. At first he’s quit excited about the prospect, but as the negotiations drag on he decides, never again. A great addition to any WWII library. Five Stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve Spencer (he, him, his)

    In 2013 I read it for the third time in about a decade and each reading has been well worth it. Rightfully designated a classic of combat memoirs, especially of junior officers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    No book from World War II can bring you the horror and futility of battle and fighting units pitched against each other amid shells and bursts of machine gun fire. In Company Commander however, I have read a piece of first hand writing from the heart of his awful conflict that seeks not to elevate heroics but document the fear, anxiety and daily struggle to go again. For the sense of excitement and the thrill of American GIs battling the Germans I remember a TV show from the 1960s - Combat. As an No book from World War II can bring you the horror and futility of battle and fighting units pitched against each other amid shells and bursts of machine gun fire. In Company Commander however, I have read a piece of first hand writing from the heart of his awful conflict that seeks not to elevate heroics but document the fear, anxiety and daily struggle to go again. For the sense of excitement and the thrill of American GIs battling the Germans I remember a TV show from the 1960s - Combat. As an adult Band of Brothers refined my childhood sense of glory as war as depicted in a more realistic and life threatening way. Charles B MacDonald’s memoir almost takes it back one stage. You see and learn first-hand about the young men who were thrown into action; led with doubts and unease conscious of the men in their command. Detailing the last days of the war following DDay and the breakout from Normandy it mainly focuses on the fear staking out the Siegfried Line and the constant struggle to overcome German forces who aware they had lost sometimes resisted fiercely and to the death and at times were glad to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russian Army. War is not glorified; the cost is measured while the purpose drove them forward without thought for themselves. There is humour and human interest stories but the sound of war is never far away and you sense no-one knew what the new day would bring. Friendly fire, a shell of a burst of aromatic fire could change or end your life. The grave like fox holes were a sanctuary as well as line you had to defend which could be overrun by an attack with overwhelming force. A book that gives perspective but nothing could furnish the vocabulary to express one’s gratitude to an earlier generation of brave men and women.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This book is really well done. I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't a diehard military history fan because it is pretty dense, but I enjoyed it. This book is really well done. I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't a diehard military history fan because it is pretty dense, but I enjoyed it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Purvis

    “Company Commander” eBook was published in 2015 (though the original paper publication was in 1947) and was written by Charles B. MacDonald (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...). Mr. MacDonald was the author of seven historical non-fiction books about World War II. This book is the story of his command of two infantry companies during the last year of the European campaign during World War II. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Endeavor Press. I categorize this no “Company Commander” eBook was published in 2015 (though the original paper publication was in 1947) and was written by Charles B. MacDonald (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...). Mr. MacDonald was the author of seven historical non-fiction books about World War II. This book is the story of his command of two infantry companies during the last year of the European campaign during World War II. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Endeavor Press. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains many scenes of Violence. This non-fiction history book tells the story of Captain Charles MacDonald and his command of companies G and I of the 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division, US Army. The book begins in October 1944 when MacDonald, then only 20 and already a Captain, is given command of I company. The story follows MacDonald as he leads his men against the Germans during the final days of World War II. His first combat assignment was holding a sector of the Siegfried Line. A few months later his unit was sent to block part of the German attack that became the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded during this action and after recovering was assigned command of G company. Finally, he led his company through Germany as the US Army drove the disintegrating German defense until the war ended. I enjoyed the 12+ hours I spent reading this 337 page book. It reminded me a lot of “Band of Brothers”. I would recommend it if you are interested in the history of WWII. I give this novel a 4 out of 5. Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at http://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I had to read this book for my university's American History class. My advice? Do not read this book unless you are in the military, or are really, really interested in it. This is in no way a "literary" kind of book. What I mean by that is this book reads more like a painfully detailed itinerary. MacDonald chronicles his every second of every day. In my opinion, he gave way too much information where it was unnecessary and not enough information where I wanted it. The best part of the book was t I had to read this book for my university's American History class. My advice? Do not read this book unless you are in the military, or are really, really interested in it. This is in no way a "literary" kind of book. What I mean by that is this book reads more like a painfully detailed itinerary. MacDonald chronicles his every second of every day. In my opinion, he gave way too much information where it was unnecessary and not enough information where I wanted it. The best part of the book was the dialogue, and as they were in the middle of war and battle, dialogue was seldom present. There was hardly any emotion in this book. Maybe this was to convey the numbness and coldness the war left him with, but I don't think so. On the rare occasion that MacDonald breached emotion, it was a fleeting, surface kind of emotion. The only time I really felt anything for him or any of the others was the final 3 or 4 pages--not enough to make up for the previous 270 bland ones. I’ve read other war books. Although they are not my favorite genre, I have enjoyed many of them. I can see how this book could be appealing to some people, but I do not think it is advisable for the average reader.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    For anyone who is a history buff, a biography lover, a military student and follower this is a must read. A live personal history of a U.S.Army Captain who was a Company Commander during World War II. It precisely names locations, cities, battles, men and units. You can get a book of the maps of Europe and follow by city and country and these units and men struggle with the fears of war across France, Belgium. the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge, across Germany until the end of the war, the For anyone who is a history buff, a biography lover, a military student and follower this is a must read. A live personal history of a U.S.Army Captain who was a Company Commander during World War II. It precisely names locations, cities, battles, men and units. You can get a book of the maps of Europe and follow by city and country and these units and men struggle with the fears of war across France, Belgium. the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge, across Germany until the end of the war, the personal struggles when they come to the realization that the war is over. The author Captain Charles B. McDonald wrote this book from his war notes and the book was published in 1947, it is still in print and a must read for historians, perhaps like me you had relatives who fought across the soil of Europe, I had a uncle who who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, another who was a Sherman tank Commander, eventually he commanded a Tank Destroyer and fought the Tiger Tanks. The author died in 1990.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt Mickletz

    Another amazing account of a WWII soldier. As the title notes the book follows a "company commander" through his everday experiences. I go into any first-person account book with caution, because frankly, even toughened vets can embelish a bit. MacDonald comes off as so genuine however, with what seem to be gleeming, honest accounts of being a replacement officer amoungst experienced men. He's detailed with the what's and how's, from the direction they headed to the terain and equipment, details Another amazing account of a WWII soldier. As the title notes the book follows a "company commander" through his everday experiences. I go into any first-person account book with caution, because frankly, even toughened vets can embelish a bit. MacDonald comes off as so genuine however, with what seem to be gleeming, honest accounts of being a replacement officer amoungst experienced men. He's detailed with the what's and how's, from the direction they headed to the terain and equipment, details I love.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Singer

    I read this many years ago and it stayed with me for a long time. The book, written right after war in 1946, is a very honest account of MacDonald's experience as an infantry officer in Europe with the American army in World War II. Its all there...leading men into combat as a raw replacement, the fear and chaos of battle, and more. I read this many years ago and it stayed with me for a long time. The book, written right after war in 1946, is a very honest account of MacDonald's experience as an infantry officer in Europe with the American army in World War II. Its all there...leading men into combat as a raw replacement, the fear and chaos of battle, and more.

  21. 4 out of 5

    john d chontos

    An excellent insight into the determination and courage of the common dog soldier in Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it's insights to the European war. My only complaint was the lack of maps. I had to Google maps while reading, because no one knew where these small towns and cities were in Europe. An excellent insight into the determination and courage of the common dog soldier in Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it's insights to the European war. My only complaint was the lack of maps. I had to Google maps while reading, because no one knew where these small towns and cities were in Europe.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David A Richardson

    A story of brave individuals. I find that this book has a level of reality not found in so many others. Those that seek to describe the war at the "strategic" level miss the most fundamental issue which is that it was in fact the effort of individuals that allowed the allies to win and to provide the opportunity of freedom. A story of brave individuals. I find that this book has a level of reality not found in so many others. Those that seek to describe the war at the "strategic" level miss the most fundamental issue which is that it was in fact the effort of individuals that allowed the allies to win and to provide the opportunity of freedom.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Kisch

    Great work Excellent description of the incredible job by young soldiers who fought our nation' wars yesterday and today. A real tribute to all who served in our great nation' military. Great work Excellent description of the incredible job by young soldiers who fought our nation' wars yesterday and today. A real tribute to all who served in our great nation' military.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David

    Book was OK. Not as good as "With the Old Breed" which is a much better Military classic. Book was OK. Not as good as "With the Old Breed" which is a much better Military classic.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Good book. Well worth the effort to track it down.

  26. 4 out of 5

    richard barron

    Eye opening Such a unique view on a truly remarkable time. If you have any interest in history this is a must read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gerhard Venter

    Very well written, an excellent "What was it like?" for the Battle of the Bulge. Very well written, an excellent "What was it like?" for the Battle of the Bulge.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Connell

    This memoir gives a detailed account of a regular infantryman’s view of the U.S. campaign in 1944-1945 through Belgium and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge, which is by far the most interesting part of the book. It provides the perspective of the frontline troops who do not know the strategic significance of their missions and only understand the seemingly pointless nature of various missions, some of which only seem to be based on the regimental commander’s desire to push his troops t This memoir gives a detailed account of a regular infantryman’s view of the U.S. campaign in 1944-1945 through Belgium and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge, which is by far the most interesting part of the book. It provides the perspective of the frontline troops who do not know the strategic significance of their missions and only understand the seemingly pointless nature of various missions, some of which only seem to be based on the regimental commander’s desire to push his troops to look good to higher authorities. A key leadership lesson in the book is MacDonald’s willingness to endure the hardships of his troops and to empathize with them. He shares all of the special rations he was entitled to as an officer and does not take any special privileges, which his rank entitled him to. Throughout the book, he introduces soldiers by the hometown they are from, which I’m sure made his book a big hit when it was published in the U.S.. He also gives a most unflattering view of the Germans, and the Germans also seem to always lose more troops in every engagement that the U.S. forces. Finally, he seems to tolerate mistreatment of German civilians in terms of confiscating their property and taking advantage of German frauleins and even war crimes against German soldiers who were trying to surrender. In one town, the soldiers are met with German complaints about ex-prisoners from a German labor camp who are stealing from the local Germans. MacDonald tells them to blame Adolf for bringing these prisoners into Germany as slave labor. From this perspective, it is much different from Band of Brothers, which focused on an elite airborne infantry unit. The two companies that MacDonald commanded were ordinary draftees who only wanted to get through the war safely and did not have any special training. Another controversial part of the book was his unflattering description of U.S. tankers who blatantly refused to fight against German Tigers during the Battle of the Bulge. His battalion commander at the time, a West Point graduate, refused to order them to fight as he was apparently afraid that they would disobey his orders. In another instance, a private under MacDonald had to threaten them that with execution to get them to advance in support of the infantry! There are graphic accounts of what it was like for infantrymen in foxholes exposed to the elements as well as the harrowing experience of being shelled by enemy artillery. The exhausting and boring nature of warfare as well as the confusion of both sides during meeting engagements is well described. In one instance, a U.S. officer goes up to some Germans in the dark to ask if they are from a particular U.S. unit. They both start firing madly at each other as a result. The pleasures associated with simple breaks such as a nice hot meal, French wine, or a hot shower as explained in various parts of the book, including the period after MacDonald is wounded by a German automatic submachine gun, called a burp gun based on the sound it made. He resolved never to lead so near the front again. One of the most dangerous missions MacDonald received was to attack some German AA guns, which were being used as both an indirect and direct fire weapon by the Germans. In that battle, one of his lieutenants got trapped with 15 German prisoners in a building while German forces overran the position. He threatened to kill any of the prisoners who called out. He also called for artillery on his own position to force the Germans back. He had an amazing experience in Leipzig where a gendarme commander tries to negotiate surrender terms with the Americans. Although it did not work out, MacDonald was escorted to behind German lines and met with some high-ranking officers. But since they could not speak for the Wermacht, nothing was arranged. Overall, there are some excellent descriptions of what it was like fighting as infantry in a war, but little in the way of leadership and tactical lessons for military leaders.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    In September, 1944, a tall skinny replacement Captain joined the US Army's 23rd Regiment, part of the 2nd Division in America's push in Europe in WWII. Although D-Day and "the breakout" had already occurred, he would have a front-line position , as commander of I Company, and then G company, for the Europe campaign, from before the Battle of the Bulge to the end of hostilities in the Czech republic in April 1945. Charles Macdonald's book is a classic of frontline memoirs, and deservedly so. Sitti In September, 1944, a tall skinny replacement Captain joined the US Army's 23rd Regiment, part of the 2nd Division in America's push in Europe in WWII. Although D-Day and "the breakout" had already occurred, he would have a front-line position , as commander of I Company, and then G company, for the Europe campaign, from before the Battle of the Bulge to the end of hostilities in the Czech republic in April 1945. Charles Macdonald's book is a classic of frontline memoirs, and deservedly so. Sitting on an "average" Company Commander's shoulder as he processes the greatest war man has ever known, is an amazing vantage point to understand the war. The sense of service and pride that a line officer has in his men and their unit comes through again and again, even as the realities of warfare sometimes mean his pride is misplaced. Macdonald is a wry and clear witness to the vagaries or war. The simplicity of the prose and the clarity of the passages make this a good book for the junior reader who is ready to handle small unit command and concerns. Gamers/Modellers/ Military Enthusiasts will find a gem on every new page, as the focus is almost perfect for Flames of War/Bolt Action/Chain of Command players to construct a plethora of scenarios. Diorama guys will also have a lot of fodder. But this is a classic- and deserves reading by all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John Lybrand

    This is a very good first had account of small unit leadership and combat. The author was a company commander in Europe in 1945. He wrote this book back in 1947, but it still seems applicable today. What is unique about the book is that it's World War II from the lowest level. There are no generals or strategy discussions. Just the officers and men that have to implement those strategies with tactics on the ground. Another thing I liked was learning some of the details of how the men got through This is a very good first had account of small unit leadership and combat. The author was a company commander in Europe in 1945. He wrote this book back in 1947, but it still seems applicable today. What is unique about the book is that it's World War II from the lowest level. There are no generals or strategy discussions. Just the officers and men that have to implement those strategies with tactics on the ground. Another thing I liked was learning some of the details of how the men got through the war. It covers things like going on the attack while your platoon leader is on leave, officer's getting a liquor allotment and the process of evacuating casualties and then returning them to the front. Be warned that there is a lot of military jargon, and lots of pages devoted to plans and movement. That might not interest the casual reader. However, if you want to get the down and dirty details from the perspective of a small unit leader, then you will enjoy it, and I recommended it for anyone interested in the details of small unit combat in WWII.

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