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Brave Men

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Europe was in the throes of World War II, and when America joined the fighting, Ernie Pyle went along. Long before television beamed daily images of combat into our living rooms, Pyle’s on-the-spot reporting gave the American public a firsthand view of what war was like for the boys on the front. Pyle followed the soldiers into the trenches, battlefields, field hospitals, Europe was in the throes of World War II, and when America joined the fighting, Ernie Pyle went along. Long before television beamed daily images of combat into our living rooms, Pyle’s on-the-spot reporting gave the American public a firsthand view of what war was like for the boys on the front. Pyle followed the soldiers into the trenches, battlefields, field hospitals, and beleaguered cities of Europe. What he witnessed he described with a clarity, sympathy, and grit that gave the public back home an immediate sense of the foot soldier’s experience. There were really two wars, John Steinbeck wrote in Time magazine: one of maps and logistics, campaigns, ballistics, divisions, and regiments and the other a "war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent, common men who wash their socks in their helmets, complain about the food, whistle at Arab girls, or any girls for that matter, and bring themselves through as dirty a business as the world has ever seen and do it with humor and dignity and courage—and that is Ernie Pyle’s war." This collection of Pyle’s columns detailing the fighting in Europe in 1943–44 brings that war—and the living, and dying, moments of history—home to us once again.


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Europe was in the throes of World War II, and when America joined the fighting, Ernie Pyle went along. Long before television beamed daily images of combat into our living rooms, Pyle’s on-the-spot reporting gave the American public a firsthand view of what war was like for the boys on the front. Pyle followed the soldiers into the trenches, battlefields, field hospitals, Europe was in the throes of World War II, and when America joined the fighting, Ernie Pyle went along. Long before television beamed daily images of combat into our living rooms, Pyle’s on-the-spot reporting gave the American public a firsthand view of what war was like for the boys on the front. Pyle followed the soldiers into the trenches, battlefields, field hospitals, and beleaguered cities of Europe. What he witnessed he described with a clarity, sympathy, and grit that gave the public back home an immediate sense of the foot soldier’s experience. There were really two wars, John Steinbeck wrote in Time magazine: one of maps and logistics, campaigns, ballistics, divisions, and regiments and the other a "war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent, common men who wash their socks in their helmets, complain about the food, whistle at Arab girls, or any girls for that matter, and bring themselves through as dirty a business as the world has ever seen and do it with humor and dignity and courage—and that is Ernie Pyle’s war." This collection of Pyle’s columns detailing the fighting in Europe in 1943–44 brings that war—and the living, and dying, moments of history—home to us once again.

30 review for Brave Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Page 99 (my book) Italy 1944 Then the nearer guns would fire and the ground under our bedrolls would tremble and we could feel the awful breath of the blast push the tent walls and nudge our bodies ever so slightly. And through the darkened hodgepodge of noise we could occasionally pick out the slightly different tone of German shells bursting in our valley. It didn’t really seem true. Three weeks before I had been in Miami eating fried chicken, sleeping in deep beds with white sheets, taking hot Page 99 (my book) Italy 1944 Then the nearer guns would fire and the ground under our bedrolls would tremble and we could feel the awful breath of the blast push the tent walls and nudge our bodies ever so slightly. And through the darkened hodgepodge of noise we could occasionally pick out the slightly different tone of German shells bursting in our valley. It didn’t really seem true. Three weeks before I had been in Miami eating fried chicken, sleeping in deep beds with white sheets, taking hot baths and having no sound more vicious than the ocean waves and the laughter of friends. One world was a beautiful dream and the other a horrible nightmare, and I was a little bit in each of them. As I lay on the straw in the darkness they became mixed up, and I was confused and not quite sure which was which. Ernie Pyle is an exquisite writer. He captures so many details and nuances of life in the American Army, Navy and Air Force during World War II. This book takes us through the campaigns in Sicily, Italy, a brief stay in England prior to the D-Day invasion, and finally the Normandy battlefield. Ernie Pyle primarily focuses on the normal “little guy”. There is a brief interview with Omar Bradley. The chapter “Mountain Fighting” in Italy was very poignant and so emotional. There is always a strong feel of the human element in Ernie Pyle’s writing – and in this chapter more so, with the soldiers trekking supplies up steep mountains with mules – and then the death of a Captain. The compassion always shines through in his writing. The chapter on the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead brought to life the deadly predicament of those trapped there. Ernie Pyle also shows us aspects of the military we don’t often think of. Page 417-18 One of the things the laymen doesn’t hear much about is the Ordnance Department. In fact, it is one of the branches that even the average soldier is little aware of… And yet the war couldn’t keep going without it. For Ordnance repairs all vehicles of an army and furnishes all ammunition for its guns. There were more vehicles in the American sector of our beachhead then in the average sized American city. And our big guns on an average day were shooting up more than $10,000,000 worth of ammunition… Ordnance personnel is usually about six or seven per cent of the total men of an army. That means we had many thousands of ordnancemen in Normandy… Ordnance had millions of items in its catalogue of parts… We had scores and scores of separate ordnance companies at work there – each of them a complete firm within itself, able to repair anything the Army used. Ordnance could lift a 30-ton tank as easily as it could a bicycle. This brings to mind the endless supplies flowing to the battlefront from the enormous industrial output of the United States. It is often said that the German soldiers were the best – but they never came close to matching the constant supplies and war materiel on the Allied front. The other aspect I found interesting was the adaptability of all levels of American society to the differing requirements of war. Remember that this, unlike today, was not a volunteer army, but one chosen from all ranks of society. For example, there were men recruited from the mid-west who successfully went into the navy and were piloting small boats. This book is essential and provides a real human feel to the American front in Europe during World War II. So many different aspects of war are so well depicted. Page 226-28 in Naples 1944 All day long the dock was a riot of Italians grouped below to catch cookies and chocolates and knickknacks the sailors and soldiers threw down to them. There must have been two hundred people on the dock, either participating in the long-shot chance of actually catching something or just looking on… It was the old woman in the crowd that I could hardly bear to look at. Throughout the day there must have been a couple of dozen who came, tried for half an hour to catch something, and finally went dejectedly away. They were horrible specimens of poverty and uncleanliness. They were old and pitiful and repulsive. But their hunger most surely was genuine. One elderly woman, dressed in tattered black and carrying a thin old shopping bag on her arms, stood at the far edge of the crowd, vainly beseeching a toss in her direction. Finally one sailor, who had just started on a box of Nabiscos, piece by piece, changed his mind and threw the entire box toward the old woman. It was a good throw and a good catch. She caught it like an outfielder. But no sooner did she have it in her arms than the crowd was upon her. Kids and adults both tore at the box, scratched and yelled and grabbed, and in five seconds the box was empty and torn. The poor old women never let go. She clung to it as though it were something alive and precious. And when the last cracker was gone she walked sort of blindly away, her head back and her eyes toward the sky, weeping, her face stricken just like that of a heartbroken child, and still gripping the empty box.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    A frank and honest depiction of the reality of front-line warfare in the second World War and the soldiers that fought it through the eyes of celebrated journalist Ernie Pyle. A legend even at the time for his camaraderie with the average enlisted men in the infantry, navy, air force, artillery, and others with whom he slogged through mud, huddled in foxholes, and chatted through countless sleepless nights, his descriptions are vivid, real, and poignant more than fifty years later. Building thro A frank and honest depiction of the reality of front-line warfare in the second World War and the soldiers that fought it through the eyes of celebrated journalist Ernie Pyle. A legend even at the time for his camaraderie with the average enlisted men in the infantry, navy, air force, artillery, and others with whom he slogged through mud, huddled in foxholes, and chatted through countless sleepless nights, his descriptions are vivid, real, and poignant more than fifty years later. Building throughout the book from the invasion of Sicily, the grueling mountainous fighting in Italy, preparation for and landing on D-Day in Normandy, and the triumphant push and march through Paris, Pyle's words portray the increasing wear and tear of war on the humanity involved, both as combatants and civilians, coming to its peak in the final brief and beautiful chapter, "The Last Word". Simple, straightforward, and immortally relevant, he credits thousands of soldiers with a sentiment that echoes through the decades: "If only we could have created all this energy for something good."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Although Pyle, one of the first "embedded" journalists in wartime, could get a bit repetitive, his account of the American GIs in the European theater during WWII will rightly stand as one of the best portrayals of the common soldier in these epic times. Written shortly after the fall of Paris as the western allies began to chase the German army back over the Rhine and the war's end seemed inevitable, I especially found his last words in this book rather poignant and perhaps reflective of the cha Although Pyle, one of the first "embedded" journalists in wartime, could get a bit repetitive, his account of the American GIs in the European theater during WWII will rightly stand as one of the best portrayals of the common soldier in these epic times. Written shortly after the fall of Paris as the western allies began to chase the German army back over the Rhine and the war's end seemed inevitable, I especially found his last words in this book rather poignant and perhaps reflective of the challenges of our own times. In the emergency of war our nation's powers are unbelievable. The strength we have spread around the world is appalling even to those who make up the individual cells of that strength. I am sure that in the past two years I have heard soldiers say a thousand times, "If only we could have created all this energy for something good." But we rise above our normal powers only in times of destruction. Were it only so that western society, and especially the US, could muster its energy to create something good without the need of coming face-to-face with obvious self-destruction. The world really needs that creative foresight and action now.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Zygmont

    This collection of dispatches from renowned WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle can grow almost tedious and repetitive at times, because it deals solely with the experiences of U.S. soldiers fighting the Germans, first in north Africa, then in Sicily and Italy, and finally in Normandy, France. But the book faithfully redeems itself and steps back from the brink of tedium, first by its organizational structure, which changes focus to different branches of the Service and different military occupations, This collection of dispatches from renowned WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle can grow almost tedious and repetitive at times, because it deals solely with the experiences of U.S. soldiers fighting the Germans, first in north Africa, then in Sicily and Italy, and finally in Normandy, France. But the book faithfully redeems itself and steps back from the brink of tedium, first by its organizational structure, which changes focus to different branches of the Service and different military occupations, and secondly by the respect, deep reverence and sympathy expressed by Pyle for his subjects, ordinary U.S. soldiers. And let's face it, those are darn compelling subjects. Pyle relates their experiences using plain language and straightforward prose. But there is nothing simplistic about his understanding and empathy for the fighters, and I found that the spareness of his prose very often elevated the writing to the level of some of the master stylists, especially Ernest Hemingway. Consider this excerpt, near the end of the book, which describes Pyle and a group of soldiers sent to the front line to retrieve two disabled tanks. They arrive as darkness falls. They're very near the fighting, but they can't tell for certain how near. Pyle writes: One officer went into an orchard to try to find where the tanks were. In wartime nobody ever knows where anything is. The rest of us waited along the road beside an old stone barn. Three jeeps were parked beside it. The dusk was deeper now. Out of the orchards around us roared and thundered our own artillery. An officer lit a cigarette. A sergeant with a rifle slung on his shoulder walked up and said, "You better put that out, sir. There's snipers all around and they'll shoot at a cigarette." The officer crushed the cigarette in his fingers, not waiting to drop it to the ground, and said, "Thanks." The book made me feel closer to my father (requiescat in pace), who flew as a crew member over Europe in the Army Air Corps (pre U.S. Air Force) during the war. My dad had a dog, Roscoe. In sections on the Air Corps, Pyle mentions how so many fliers kept dogs. But beyond the personal, I recommend Brave Men wholeheartedly for at least a couple of reasons. It illustrates total war. Also, it is unambiguous in identifying the good guys (us), and the bad guys (them). There are some lessons there, when you compare how we approach such concepts today, versus Pyle's celebration of American men at arms only about 65 years ago.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is the third book we've read (car book - read out loud) of Ernie Pyle's WWII dispatches, this time from Sicily, Anzio and into Italy, and Normandy (as part of the first wave of D-Day invasion forces). It blew me away (sorry for the cliche but it was the only thing I could think of to describe my amazement at what the WWII news correspondents did) that he was part of the first wave at Sicily, Anzio, and Normandy (as were other news correspondents) and he stuck with individual units, document This is the third book we've read (car book - read out loud) of Ernie Pyle's WWII dispatches, this time from Sicily, Anzio and into Italy, and Normandy (as part of the first wave of D-Day invasion forces). It blew me away (sorry for the cliche but it was the only thing I could think of to describe my amazement at what the WWII news correspondents did) that he was part of the first wave at Sicily, Anzio, and Normandy (as were other news correspondents) and he stuck with individual units, documenting what their experiences were. He was a strong and engaging writer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe Rodeck

    Wish I could rate this higher though it's not Ernie Pyle's fault. This compendium of all Pyle's WWII columns from the front cries for a "best of" treatment. By the time I had to go through trench foot for the fourth time, I was ready to quit. Get's too redundant. Pyle's writing is great. Good sense of humor and irony. OTOH, you can tell he was under very strict 1940's editorial control. Wish I could rate this higher though it's not Ernie Pyle's fault. This compendium of all Pyle's WWII columns from the front cries for a "best of" treatment. By the time I had to go through trench foot for the fourth time, I was ready to quit. Get's too redundant. Pyle's writing is great. Good sense of humor and irony. OTOH, you can tell he was under very strict 1940's editorial control.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Land Murphy

    Fantastic. To read this book is to understand why soldiers love Pyle. He understood them, and he told it like it was. Pyle does not describe the big picture of the war in Europe. He describes the day-to-day experiences of the GI. The infantry. The artillery. The air corps. The tankers. They are all here. Anyone with an interest in World War II must read this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    William

    This is one of those books about which you say, “I should have read this a long time ago.” The prose is clear, concise (economical), and very descriptive. The flowing narrative covers all aspects of the war and a wide variety of units. Ernie made friends of everyone, regardless of rank, fame or fortune. The stories are personal with many individuals identified by name and home address. The experiences are real and give one a sense of the totality of war and the spirit of the American citizen war This is one of those books about which you say, “I should have read this a long time ago.” The prose is clear, concise (economical), and very descriptive. The flowing narrative covers all aspects of the war and a wide variety of units. Ernie made friends of everyone, regardless of rank, fame or fortune. The stories are personal with many individuals identified by name and home address. The experiences are real and give one a sense of the totality of war and the spirit of the American citizen warrior. There is a real wealth of information about war, human character, life and meaning here and should be required reading for professional soldiers. Pyle interspersed his story-telling with wit and humor; here is a short example. Speaking with a young soldier (Paul Schneider) who drove a “duck” [sic] or amphibious carrier, which he let Pyle drive off shore. When Pyle introduced himself, Paul said that he had just finished Pyle’s first book and thought it “alright.” Pyle concludes that Schneider was “the champion duck driver of the American Army. A man of perspicacity and acumen…” He later noted that Schneider had been in three invasions and “said he would just as soon drive a duck as do anything else.” Pyle concludes with “This was exactly the fine philosophy you’d expect of a man who read good books.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eden

    2021 bk 258. All honor is due the name of Ernie Pyle and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women with whom he spent time and recorded the details of life in the fight known as World War II. Pyle was drawn to those enlisted, drafted, and lifetime military - mostly of the U.S., but he did give kudos others he met along the way. He carefully crafted his newspaper accounts with frequent references to his notepads where he had written details of names and hometowns s 2021 bk 258. All honor is due the name of Ernie Pyle and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women with whom he spent time and recorded the details of life in the fight known as World War II. Pyle was drawn to those enlisted, drafted, and lifetime military - mostly of the U.S., but he did give kudos others he met along the way. He carefully crafted his newspaper accounts with frequent references to his notepads where he had written details of names and hometowns so loved ones would know that on such and such a date that person had been alive and had met Ernie Pyle. His focus on the men and women was so detailed and so determined to remind people of their individual-ness that there is an index of every name and every home town in my copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chainsaw

    It's easy to see why this author was one of World War II's most beloved reporters. His self-effacing, subtle wit, combined with his commitment to tell the true story of America's "common" men amidst the not-so-glamorous aspects of warfare, provide insight not easily obtainable by those who haven't lived it. His reporting was from a personal, authentic level rarely achieved by others. Highly recommended! It's easy to see why this author was one of World War II's most beloved reporters. His self-effacing, subtle wit, combined with his commitment to tell the true story of America's "common" men amidst the not-so-glamorous aspects of warfare, provide insight not easily obtainable by those who haven't lived it. His reporting was from a personal, authentic level rarely achieved by others. Highly recommended!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kip

    "Brave Men" sees war correspondent and infantry everyman Pyle follow the American army through Italy and into France. The reader sees the invasions of both Anzio and Normandy through Pyle's signature tight but descriptive prose. The book includes perhaps Pyle's most famous essay, "The Death of Captain Waskow," written in December 1943. It also includes his observations of the D-Day invasion as well as a horrific account of the Operation Cobra bombings that killed 111 soldiers in friendly fire bo "Brave Men" sees war correspondent and infantry everyman Pyle follow the American army through Italy and into France. The reader sees the invasions of both Anzio and Normandy through Pyle's signature tight but descriptive prose. The book includes perhaps Pyle's most famous essay, "The Death of Captain Waskow," written in December 1943. It also includes his observations of the D-Day invasion as well as a horrific account of the Operation Cobra bombings that killed 111 soldiers in friendly fire bombings. Throughout the work, you can start to see the cracks of Pyle's psyche, particularly in the final farewell of the book written in August 1944, just a few months before Pyle was killed in combat in Okinawa. Fans of his writing will see perhaps his most accomplished prose in this work, and the beautiful but horrific description of the conditions of men in the air, on the ground and at sea. If you're a World War II buff, a journalist or looking for some of the best examples of descriptive historic prose, you could do much worse than picking this one up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII and/or had family members that served. You can't get much better than this first person account, primary source of the war. Ernie Pyle details the lives of everyday men, and the occasional woman, who served overseas in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, in England, and in the beginnings of the Normandy battles. He writes in plain language, and sometimes his stories and observations took my breath away they were so vivid. He is also very I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII and/or had family members that served. You can't get much better than this first person account, primary source of the war. Ernie Pyle details the lives of everyday men, and the occasional woman, who served overseas in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, in England, and in the beginnings of the Normandy battles. He writes in plain language, and sometimes his stories and observations took my breath away they were so vivid. He is also very humble, which was gratifying considering that he was a very famous and beloved correspondent. Some people didn't like that he took the time to name hundreds of individuals soldiers, including their hometown addresses many times. I personally enjoyed each name and hometown, because it shows the wide range of Americans who served over there. I also got excited when he mentioned someone from my state, Mississippi. This book is a classic. The modern, flashy books written by historians today are well-written and well-researched, but there is no good substitute for the real thing-- and this book is it. I wish Ernie Pyle had survived the war, but he left behind a wonderful collection of stories that people like me can enjoy today. I wish I had read this sooner; it is now one of my favorite books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robin Hobb

    This book is a gathering of the columns of war correspondent Ernie Pyle. It's an up close and personal look at World War II from a fellow who took his typewriter and went right to the front with the soldiers. The sections have headings such as Personalities and Asides, Light Bombers, Beachhead Fighters and Stand By. A bit from Beachhead Fighters. "That particular tank had everything in it from much-handled comic books to a pocket edition of the Bible. I saw old socks, empty tobacco cans, half cu This book is a gathering of the columns of war correspondent Ernie Pyle. It's an up close and personal look at World War II from a fellow who took his typewriter and went right to the front with the soldiers. The sections have headings such as Personalities and Asides, Light Bombers, Beachhead Fighters and Stand By. A bit from Beachhead Fighters. "That particular tank had everything in it from much-handled comic books to a pocket edition of the Bible. I saw old socks, empty tobacco cans, half cups of cold coffee. The boys used the top of the tank for tables and shelves, and this too was littered. But all the disorder didn't keep it from being a good tank, because that crew hedl the battalion record for firing its entire ammunition lad in the shortest time." This book is full of these little windows on the past. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    Pyle was what all journalists aspire to be, or should. He was succinct, funny, gritty, spared no details, honest, and kind. His writings were above all else poignant about what was happening in World War II and to whom it was happening. This book is a collection of his writings that he sent back from the front. For all intense and purposes, he was a soldier who wrote.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sonny

    One of the first and one of the all-time best of the "embedded reporters." Pyle became at one with the front lines and the units around him. The man traveled everywhere and even began to become a victim of the conflicts. Ernie's prose is magnificent and an inspiration to any would-be journalist. It is a shame that it is not required reading, these days... One of the first and one of the all-time best of the "embedded reporters." Pyle became at one with the front lines and the units around him. The man traveled everywhere and even began to become a victim of the conflicts. Ernie's prose is magnificent and an inspiration to any would-be journalist. It is a shame that it is not required reading, these days...

  16. 5 out of 5

    William Troy

    It is easy to understand why Ernie Pyle was a favorite war correspondent among the soldiers of World War II when reading this book! It is a dialogue between the author and the reader where Ernie answers anticipated questions that the reader cannot ask about the men, machines and the fighting that he encountered as he traveled among the units staging, fighting and resting in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, England and then France. Ernie is a story teller! He captures the audience through simple, cle It is easy to understand why Ernie Pyle was a favorite war correspondent among the soldiers of World War II when reading this book! It is a dialogue between the author and the reader where Ernie answers anticipated questions that the reader cannot ask about the men, machines and the fighting that he encountered as he traveled among the units staging, fighting and resting in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, England and then France. Ernie is a story teller! He captures the audience through simple, clear and honest writing. He introduces the reader to every soldier, sailor, airman, nurse, Red Cross worker and many civilians. He tells you their name and where they are from. There is an Index of Persons and Places included at the end of the book. The writing is genuine. He cares about the people he meets and he is sensitive to their feelings. He is often subtly comical as when he described the soldiers of the Forty-Fifth Division moving out under the hot Sicilian summer sun carrying up to six canteens, many captured from the Italian Army. Ernie says, "...if a person had got real nosy he might have discovered that a couple of those canteens, instead of holding our beautiful pure water, were bearing a strange red fluid known colloquially as "vino," to be used, no doubt, for rubbing on fleabites" (Pyle, p. 62). It is easy to visualize the events and environment he describes. The writing is not flowery, it is plain and clear as when talking about being told to assemble near the kitchen tent on a dark night. He and a soldier could not find the tent and both gave their opinion as to where it was. The soldier said it was ahead about fifty feet but Ernie said it was right about thirty feet. A flare went off and they both saw that the tent was about six inches in front of them (Pyle, p. 200). On Anzio Ernie explains that the brushless shaving cream issued was great for sun and windburn, nurses shampooed their hair with it. It soothed fleabites and was goos for chapped hands and cracked feet. He then writes, "It's a shame somebody didn't shave with it once and a while (Pyle, p, 241). He doesn't concentrate on he fighting. He concentrates on the people, their equipment and their experiences. It is an informative and enjoyable read! The lesson he learned is his last line in the book. "All we can do is fumble and try once more-try out of the memory of our anguish-and be tolerant with each other as we can (Pyle, p. 466). Those who are military history buffs will enjoy this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pippa

    "Tell me, Mr. Pyle, how does it feel to be an assault correspondent?" Being a man of few words, I said, "It feels awful." Here's the problem I had, and the reason why I needed to alternate with other books to make finishing this book more enjoyable: this is a read that is packed to the brim with step-by-step detail. For some reason Pyle uses a ridiculous level of jargon-y detail that didn't plague the previous set of articles I read by him. He goes on and on detailing layouts and processes of very "Tell me, Mr. Pyle, how does it feel to be an assault correspondent?" Being a man of few words, I said, "It feels awful." Here's the problem I had, and the reason why I needed to alternate with other books to make finishing this book more enjoyable: this is a read that is packed to the brim with step-by-step detail. For some reason Pyle uses a ridiculous level of jargon-y detail that didn't plague the previous set of articles I read by him. He goes on and on detailing layouts and processes of very specific aspects of war, and the read often becomes unbelievably laborious. He also, bless him, wants to ensure that every single soldier he meets gets described and recognized for the sake of their families and friends at home. As someone living three generations after the war, this drives me nuts. We get longer introductions to people we will never interact with in the book again than one would to the main character in most narrative fiction Here's what saved it: I have no quotations that demonstrate these two issues by virtue of the fact that I had more than enough quotes I loved to save. In the second half of the book in particular (so hold on if you're having trouble with the over-detailed description), the war gets more extreme in its highs and lows - and Pyle finds the emotional, narrative balance. This is Pyle at his strongest. You think of attackers as being savage and bold. These men were hesitant and cautious. They were really the hunters, but they looked like the hunted. There was a confused excitement and a grim anxiety on their faces. Pyle was an incredibly intelligent and thoughtful man, and this comes ultimately comes across quite strongly. The former just holds the weight in an irritating way in the first half of the book. But when he gets it right, he loops the aspects of the human condition that are universal through time into his descriptions of war seamlessly, and it's poignant to our time, most so in his final words: And all of us together will have to learn how to reassemble our broken world into a pattern so firm and so fair that another great war cannot soon be possible. To tell the simple truth, most of us over in France don't pretend to know the right answer. Submersion in war does not necessarily qualify a man to be the master of peace. All we can do is fumble and try once more - try out of the memory of our anguish - and be as tolerant with each other as we can.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    A solid account of World War II from a veteran war correspondent. Broken into chapters composed of bits and entries, many touching segments, a great sense for what it was like, Pyle captures faces, records names, depicts the harrowing moments with fitting sentences, offers wise lines and some gems of truth. It’s a long book though, 466 pages, I didn’t want to wallow through it and felt guilty for plowing through it; since the book is not really a novel or does not aim to construct a point or arg A solid account of World War II from a veteran war correspondent. Broken into chapters composed of bits and entries, many touching segments, a great sense for what it was like, Pyle captures faces, records names, depicts the harrowing moments with fitting sentences, offers wise lines and some gems of truth. It’s a long book though, 466 pages, I didn’t want to wallow through it and felt guilty for plowing through it; since the book is not really a novel or does not aim to construct a point or argument but rather is a collection of first-hand observations. The reader is brought alongside to experience the war in Tunisia, parts of Italy, France and England. Pyle accrues so much clout. There are scenes with generals (such as General Bradley) that inspire, moments with soldiers that humble, acts of engineers that awe, and on it goes, the times at sea, the life alongside gunners and tank crews and chefs, the many men who were in civilian life ordinary workers. There isn’t any talk of the Pacific theater of war and Pyle doesn’t seek to teach or instruct much on the reason of the war, his is not the work of a war historian or a philosopher. There were parts I’d have liked to hear more about, e.g. the Negro troops (Pyle uses the old-fashioned noun), civil rights and human rights, and equality within the military machine, or sexuality in the lives of the troops (masturbation, homosexuality, identity, paternal relationships). Pyle, at times, or I should say, the author, at times, is a man of his time and background, whose dialogue is plain American, which we appreciate for its plain-speak and sincerity. Many sweet literary breaths in this book, I’d recommend this if you’re up for war books, or specifically interested in the campaigns in Normandy or Sicily or whichever place Ernie served at. I actually turned to it after reading Essential Captain America Vol. 8 wherein one of the writers mentioned in the afterword his research for the material on the superhero.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andy Horton

    Great war reporting from Ernie Pyle, a journalist who gave voice to the experiences of the US serviceman during WWII. Not a fluent read, being a collection of columns without a structure as a book. His name-checking the men he meets takes up a lot of space, but it doubtless mattered to many of them at the time, and clearly to Pyle himself. Their friends and families would read about them back home, and that helped validate their experiences. He himself was wryly aware of his celebrity status. I Great war reporting from Ernie Pyle, a journalist who gave voice to the experiences of the US serviceman during WWII. Not a fluent read, being a collection of columns without a structure as a book. His name-checking the men he meets takes up a lot of space, but it doubtless mattered to many of them at the time, and clearly to Pyle himself. Their friends and families would read about them back home, and that helped validate their experiences. He himself was wryly aware of his celebrity status. I was reminded by the soldiers eager to meet him, have hims sign their letters home, of the British squaddies in the Gulf War and Iraq eager for selfies with war correspondent Kate Adie. You can see an element of propaganda in Pyle's writing - everybody is great at their job, and respectful of the other arms and units. But he doesn't deny the hardship, the grim conditions that especially his beloved infantrymen undergo. Wartime propaganda needs a certain honesty. That honesty comes out especially in his last reports, those from Normandy following D Day. His description of the lost belongings at the shore - a metaphor for lost lives - id powerful as an account of the cost of the operation. In these reports there is less of the corny humour with which Pyle leavened his earlier writings. The description of coming under "friendly fire" bombing is chillingly vivid. We will never know how Pyle might have developed as a journalist and author, as he sadly died in Normandy, another victim of war as were so many of the footsoldiers with whom he lived and wrote.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Doninaz

    I’ve read several WW II history books. Brave Men is more than a history book; it was written as history was being made. It’s journalism – and an entirely different read. This book is a collection of the dispatches Pyle sent for publication in US newspapers. As a war correspondent, Pyle reported the war through the eyes of the men on the front lines. Pyle takes the reader with the troops from North Africa to Sicily and then Italy. Back to England for the Normandy run-up, and then the landing, brea I’ve read several WW II history books. Brave Men is more than a history book; it was written as history was being made. It’s journalism – and an entirely different read. This book is a collection of the dispatches Pyle sent for publication in US newspapers. As a war correspondent, Pyle reported the war through the eyes of the men on the front lines. Pyle takes the reader with the troops from North Africa to Sicily and then Italy. Back to England for the Normandy run-up, and then the landing, breakout, and advance to Paris. Not revealed in history books are the small incidents and conversations with the troops. You also read what it’s like to have an artillery shell pass barely over your head, or to be buried in debris during a bombing. Or landing at Normandy on D-day +1. Through Pyle’s eyes, you are there. Though his coverage, the reader gets an idea of the variety of services needed to wage this war. Pyle spends time with the infantrymen. But he also introduces the reader to the vast support network often overlooked in documentaries: the Combat Engineers often in front for mine detection and emergency bridgebuilding; the Quartermaster Corps in charge of war supplies; the Ordnance Department responsible for providing ammunition and repairing vehicles; the dive bombers, the light bombers, the LSTs and the hospital ships. And the artillery units, both for ground targets and anti-aircraft (ack-ack). The methods and routines of these gun crews are very different. Pyle’s accounts, at times chilling and no-nonsense, brought home the humanity of men at war.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ann Otto

    When researching World War 2 one has to include Ernie Pyle, America's favorite correspondent. This compilation of his articles to America covers the period from June 1943 until September 1944. His journalistic style is gripping. Unlike other correspondents or historians that observed from afar, he lived with the men he wrote of and experienced the same dangers. These stories include D-Day in Italy beginning on the coast of Sicily and moves on to Anzio. By April 1944 he is in England and covers a When researching World War 2 one has to include Ernie Pyle, America's favorite correspondent. This compilation of his articles to America covers the period from June 1943 until September 1944. His journalistic style is gripping. Unlike other correspondents or historians that observed from afar, he lived with the men he wrote of and experienced the same dangers. These stories include D-Day in Italy beginning on the coast of Sicily and moves on to Anzio. By April 1944 he is in England and covers all the preparation and anxiety of the various American and British units awaiting D-Day in France. He leaves the actual June 6 invasion details to others but later walks Omaha beach to describe the overwhelming circumstances left behind. He takes us through the hedgerows and street fights in France to the ultimate goal: Paris. On publication, Time Magazine noted, " What happened to Ernie Pyle was that the war suddenly made the kind of unimportant small people and small things he was accustomed to writing about enormously important." John Steinbeck explained, "There are really two wars...the war of maps and logistics, of campaigns of ballistics, armies, divisions, and regiments...Then there is the war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent common men...and that is Ernie Pyle's war. He knows it as well as anyone and writes about it better than anyone." The quality of his reports reminds us again of the importance of returning to original accounts from periods we are researching.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bill Plott

    Reading these pages, it’s easy to see why Ernie Pyle was called the soldier’s friend. Most military histories are about generals and strategies, both certainly important to history. But Pyle wrote about what it was like to be an infantryman, a bomber pilot, a nurse, a truck driver during time of war. Talking to ordinary Joes, who long for home after months, even years overseas, Pyle makes it clear why “dry socks and hot chow” could be as important to morale as any battle success. His description Reading these pages, it’s easy to see why Ernie Pyle was called the soldier’s friend. Most military histories are about generals and strategies, both certainly important to history. But Pyle wrote about what it was like to be an infantryman, a bomber pilot, a nurse, a truck driver during time of war. Talking to ordinary Joes, who long for home after months, even years overseas, Pyle makes it clear why “dry socks and hot chow” could be as important to morale as any battle success. His description of “the stare” expresses it so well: “A soldier who’s been a long time in the line does have a look in his eyes.…It’s a look of dullness, eyes that look without seeing, eyes that see without conveying any image to the mind. It’ s a look that is the display room or what lies behind it – exhaustion of sleep, tension for too long, weariness that is too great, fear beyond fear, misery to the point of numbness, a look of surpassing indifference to anything anybody can do. It’s a look I dread to see on men.” That’s war. No John Wayne-type heroics. Just brave men doing their jobs under seemingly impossible conditions. My God, what a writer.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    My Dad gave my 2 sisters & I each a copy of this book and he wrote in the cover that this book brings back many memories and the many hardships they endured during the Italian fighting during WW2. My Dad served in the US Army during WW 2, in the 34th Infantry Division and spent approximately 600 days in combat in the Italian Campaign. One of Ernie Pyle's assignment was the 34th Infantry Division while in Italy. So these writings of war time happenings & hardships were a window in what my Dad end My Dad gave my 2 sisters & I each a copy of this book and he wrote in the cover that this book brings back many memories and the many hardships they endured during the Italian fighting during WW2. My Dad served in the US Army during WW 2, in the 34th Infantry Division and spent approximately 600 days in combat in the Italian Campaign. One of Ernie Pyle's assignment was the 34th Infantry Division while in Italy. So these writings of war time happenings & hardships were a window in what my Dad endured during WW2. He did not really talk about his time during the war. I started the book several years ago & restarted it again from the beginning. So glad that I finished it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie_blu

    Like others have stated, I learned of Ernie Pyle through the reminisces of those who were alive during WWII. He was idolized by the public for his admiration and love of the "lowly" GI and sailor. This book also focuses on the common soldier and sailor and reveals the war through their eyes. It is a wonderful read. Readers must be warned that the book is written in a style quite different from today's news reports. The type of material related, the pacing, and word choice take a bit getting used Like others have stated, I learned of Ernie Pyle through the reminisces of those who were alive during WWII. He was idolized by the public for his admiration and love of the "lowly" GI and sailor. This book also focuses on the common soldier and sailor and reveals the war through their eyes. It is a wonderful read. Readers must be warned that the book is written in a style quite different from today's news reports. The type of material related, the pacing, and word choice take a bit getting used to; however, the book is well worth the effort. Also, social prejudices are revealed, but not in a malicious way.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Kanakis

    A wonderfully written, descriptive, and valuable description of life for the everyday soldier whose experience was chaotic, silly, and horrifying in the day to day. I greatly appreciated his descriptions of life in the P-38 squadrons and B-26 squadrons. He’s description of the 8th Air Force’s failed attempts at tactical strategic bombing was electrifying and horrible. War is a terrible thing, and being a warrior means understand it’s experience and learning to do your job despite it. Pyle captur A wonderfully written, descriptive, and valuable description of life for the everyday soldier whose experience was chaotic, silly, and horrifying in the day to day. I greatly appreciated his descriptions of life in the P-38 squadrons and B-26 squadrons. He’s description of the 8th Air Force’s failed attempts at tactical strategic bombing was electrifying and horrible. War is a terrible thing, and being a warrior means understand it’s experience and learning to do your job despite it. Pyle captures that completely.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Evans

    How personal, how funny, how very sobering, Ernie tore at my heart with every description of the many soldiers he befriended as he followed them into battle. They were all brave. Ernie was also one of the bravest. I grieved on every page of this wonderful reporting and writing to think that just after this book was published, Ernie continued to follow our soldiers into the Pacific war only to be shot dead on the battlefield. God bless our brave journalists as they too roam the world to tell the How personal, how funny, how very sobering, Ernie tore at my heart with every description of the many soldiers he befriended as he followed them into battle. They were all brave. Ernie was also one of the bravest. I grieved on every page of this wonderful reporting and writing to think that just after this book was published, Ernie continued to follow our soldiers into the Pacific war only to be shot dead on the battlefield. God bless our brave journalists as they too roam the world to tell the stories of history in the making.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Parsons

    Really unlike any book I've read. Pyle was a war correspondent in WWII. He lived with the infantry and other branches, exposing himself to death and worse for several years before being killed by a sniper's bullet. His writings are about his experiences. His respect for the American fighting man is refreshing. The writing by today's standards is a bit juvenile, but this does not distract from its effect. Really unlike any book I've read. Pyle was a war correspondent in WWII. He lived with the infantry and other branches, exposing himself to death and worse for several years before being killed by a sniper's bullet. His writings are about his experiences. His respect for the American fighting man is refreshing. The writing by today's standards is a bit juvenile, but this does not distract from its effect.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lori P. Arnold-Mann

    Excellent book by Pulitzer prize-winning author about the greatest generation as they fought WWII. Ambrose is a historical author, but Pyle lived with the soldiers and died with them on a Pacific island. He walked with them, wrote about them as the fought. It's an outstanding bunch of books he wrote, mine's a family copy. My Dad's now mine. I've read and re-read it and a couple more of his books. You'll enjoy reading about the men who fought the war. Excellent book by Pulitzer prize-winning author about the greatest generation as they fought WWII. Ambrose is a historical author, but Pyle lived with the soldiers and died with them on a Pacific island. He walked with them, wrote about them as the fought. It's an outstanding bunch of books he wrote, mine's a family copy. My Dad's now mine. I've read and re-read it and a couple more of his books. You'll enjoy reading about the men who fought the war.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wes Bartlett

    This was a slow read for me. It is told through the stories of the everyday soldier in battle. It gave me a glimpse of what my Dad and Uncle may have gone through as very young men who went to fight in Europe and Africa and Italy. I never heard much about their experiences during their war, only some of the humorous tidbits that happened to them while they were over there. Now I wonder what they really had to endure so far from home. Since they are gone now, I guess I will never know.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chad Manske

    As the foremost WWII corresponded Ernie Pyle brought war to life in an era before TV’s images could. Partial to the Army, Pyle wrote about all the Services while living and working among them in the most harrowing combat conditions any GI faced. Bringing common men’s issues to life, America would come to learn the personal side of those who fought and give their lives. Recommended to me by my boss as his favorite book, many thanks to GEN (Ret) Votel—I really enjoyed it!

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