Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers is a publication that traces the lives and experiences by soldiers serving in the East Company in the preceding period of the Second World War. The East Company was a renowned Air Force whose prowess in rifle usage was well known and spoken. The crew consisted individuals emerging from the various states and in the period 1942, their brotherhood was instituted in a general camp whose objective was the impartation of the best training skills afforded by the military in preparation for the war (Ambrose 15). The exercise proved its significance in the consequent missions with the initial one staged at France. The bravery exhibited the soldiers is quite commendable as evidenced by the Bastogne combat that suffered constraints in armory and fighters. The icy temperatures made it worse for the combatants yet they unrelentingly braved on to the end. Their last and most notable mission was waged in Germany against Hitler and the capture of his hideout marked a success in the mission (Ambrose 264). The rationale behind this paper and discussion is the critical examination of the book in a bid to identify the merits and shortcomings it affords.
The major theme in this publication concerns war, specifically the Second World War as it is the most important of the mentioned combats. The war is noted for its significance in the shaping of the American nation and its positioning in history as the final good combat waged by America. The historical material embedded in the literature is very profound. The book therefore acts as a historical record of the social climate, the effects and key elements notable in the war. I like the way the author interweaves the historical information in the book in a way that the publication still maintains its role of entertainment while posing such grave truths concerning war. This is one of the notable merits in the book as it offers a superior and interesting way of noting historical recordings. The information given in the book is collected through the interviews conducted to “the veterans, including Eisenhower, and going down the ranks to privates…men of East Company…commanding officer, Dick Winters, Sergeant (alter Lieutenant) Carwood Lipton, Sergeants Don Malarkey, Paul Rogers, Bill Guarnere and so many others…Corporal Walter Gordon,” (Ambrose 14).
The writer uses the gathered information to compile the war experiences and through this, he is able to recoup the lost glory of these noble citizens back to the desired state. Employing personal experiences in the publication infuse an element of pragmatism in the book accorded to the emotions exhibited by the soldiers during the interviews. For instance, Tipper notes he “disliked…not really hated” (Ambrose 37) Sobel, a fellow soldier and this makes the book and the war more realistic to the reader. I like that through this, the reader is able to view the soldiers as fellow humans with feelings, fears, loved ones and caring personalities as opposed to the mechanistic view that views them as machines due to their training. The merit attached to this fact is that the reader is able to have a higher interaction with the characters discussed through the emotional bond that is created. Information credibility has a psychological impact on the reader where the consequences and difficulties encountered in the war are sensible to the reader imparting an admiration aspect for the brevity exhibited.
The book is organized in a chronological order commencing with 1942 and ending in 1991. Additionally, the book is broken down in nineteen chapters and the timeline for each period is accorded to the various chapters. The chapter titles aid the reader in determining the subject matter in a given chapter. Short paragraphs are used in paginated information for the sake of good idea presentation and organization. The paragraphs are indented and this helps the reader to locate the beginning and ending of a given paragraph before a transition occurs to the next one. The paragraphs are aligned to the middle of the book and this has a psychological effect of on the reader. The imagery created by this organization is that the information given is easily handled since a normal page would contain twice as much as the offered length. This therefore acts as a motivational factor especially to lazy readers. However, as noted, the printing style is a psychological one since a slightly smaller font size is used meaning that the information given in a single page equals what normal writing would hold with the standard size.
Idea presentation is soberly done and this overcomes the weakness of biasness notable in many publications. In the introduction section, the Gordon, one of the interviews expressly charges the author by the words “now listen, whatever you do in this book, don’t go making me into a hero,” (Ambrose 14). This acts as a guiding principle to the writer as he assures the reader that “I don’t make heroes. I only write about them,” (Ambrose 14). Through this founding material, the reader is able to hold his or her own judgments of the text and decide whether the information is validated from personal biasness or applied to biasness. The use of interviews also plays a major role in guiding the writer from taking a position in the whole period. The only sections that the writer offers personal views are in relation to the personal interviews. These ideas are easily identified by the reported nature of the speech. The conjoining texts between individual views are in reported speech and just serve as transition elements. Interchanging reported and direct information infuses an element of good narration that keeps the reader alert for the transitioning gaps within the publication.
I did not like the last chapter of the book that covered the periods 1945 to 1991, a span of forty-six years in total in only seventeen pages. I felt that little space was devoted to the subject of post-war careers and they are of equal importance to the reader as the other areas are. More discussions and a bit of depth should have been accorded to this section to overcome the rushed details at the end infused by information squeezing. The book however concludes on a good note as the author’s information is given. Learning that Ambrose “a pre-med major…changed…to history, realizing that teaching would be his life’s work,” (333) reveals his credibility in the book’s writing due to his knowledge in history as a subject.
Ambrose, Stephen. Band of brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2001. Print.