The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey



10 thoughts on “The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau

  1. & & says:

    OK, where to start with this review the author, Alex Kershaw has done us all a service by telling us the story of a great and humble man, a soldier who served his country during WW2 and tookinterest in his men than in himself The man in question, unknown to most of us until now, was Felix Sparks I dare say, an average American, who becomes an extraordinary combat leader.Alex Kershaw decided to take us on this journey with Felix Sparks and the men of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the OK, where to start with this review the author, Alex Kershaw has done us all a service by telling us the story of a great and humble man, a soldier who served his country during WW2 and tookinterest in his men than in himself The man in question, unknown to most of us until now, was Felix Sparks I dare say, an average American, who becomes an extraordinary combat leader.Alex Kershaw decided to take us on this journey with Felix Sparks and the men of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Thunderbird Division after finding a unique and until now, not seen photograph of an American officer stopping US troops from shooting unarmed Waffen SS prisoners at Dachuau Concentration Camp What a photo, it s true a picture is worth a thousand words But the journey begins with a young Felix Sparks prior to WW2 and then follows him and the men of the 45th Division from training through the Sicily invasion, onto Italy Anzio, then Southern France, the hard fighting through Alsace Lorraine and the forests of the Vosges and into Bavaria till the end of the war We then read about the life of this amazing man after the war and all the things he managed to accomplish along with tragedy within his family.This book is a enjoyable read, fast paced, full of interesting and great stories about American soldiers faced with the horrendous costs of fighting against tough adversaries and how humanity can still survive after and during the horrors of war I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great read of men in combat or to anyone who just enjoys a good story this has to be Alex s best book so far


  2. JD JD says:

    What a good read this was It is the story of Felix Sparks and his journey through World War 2, but it also brings in many different and interesting little tales of the campaigns and men he fought with and for His story isn t like the glory of many other books of men who fought in the war, but also tells of the real horror, the bureaucracy of the army, the glory seeking leaders and the average soldiers life on the front and in the rear while resting I like all these little facts and stories Ke What a good read this was It is the story of Felix Sparks and his journey through World War 2, but it also brings in many different and interesting little tales of the campaigns and men he fought with and for His story isn t like the glory of many other books of men who fought in the war, but also tells of the real horror, the bureaucracy of the army, the glory seeking leaders and the average soldiers life on the front and in the rear while resting I like all these little facts and stories Kershaw brings into the book and I really enjoyed the book a lot I lost this book after starting it and when I found it again I finished it in mere days


  3. Lewis Weinstein Lewis Weinstein says:

    I read the sections describing the American forces entry into Dachau a stunning and powerful personal account


  4. Jill Mackin Jill Mackin says:

    Felix Sparks is a hero from WW2 He helped with the invasion of Italy and fought all the way into Germany Along the way he liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp Alex Kershaw has written an excellent story of Col Sparks leadership and a great saga recounting his tour in Europe.Highly recommend.


  5. Kate Kate says:

    This is a story of Felix Sparks and his rise through the ranks as a National Guard soldier who is shipped out with the 157th Regiment, known as the Thunderbirds who would start their war with the landings in Sicily This Regiment would be in the war 511 days, loose 3,650 men, suffer 13,729 men wounded in battle, and 41,647 non combat casualities yet be one of the least written about least awarded Regiments in the war Like all stories of war and the men who fight them and the men charged with le This is a story of Felix Sparks and his rise through the ranks as a National Guard soldier who is shipped out with the 157th Regiment, known as the Thunderbirds who would start their war with the landings in Sicily This Regiment would be in the war 511 days, loose 3,650 men, suffer 13,729 men wounded in battle, and 41,647 non combat casualities yet be one of the least written about least awarded Regiments in the war Like all stories of war and the men who fight them and the men charged with leading them what is viewed as important often comes down to which general is the most publicity seeking, who hero de jour, and has the swagger civilians think are attributes to real warriors The press which prefers access and lives on briefings and is easily distracted away from the real stories to the ones which promise the most success.The landings on Sicily with the strategy of marching up the boot of Italy to attack the underbelly of the Reich was at best an ill conceived adventure, promoted by the British and Churchill as the easiest route to the invasion into Germany I had an uncle who was an infantryman in this venture, I don t know if he was one of the fresh replacement recruits who was thrown into this venture late in the Italian campaign after it stalled or anything about his story because he never spoke of it not even to my father who was a Veteran from the Pacific.I do know that Felix Sparks if Alex Kershaw has portrayed him correctly was the type of officer that my father would have respected, much like he respected Matt Ridgeway because there were so many Generals and officers he held little respect for Sparks got his first battle command of E Company before the invasion of Italy after Sicily was put to bed He was a soldier who took time to know his men, and stayed with them and never failed to take his objective even if the Companies around him couldn t and left both he and his men without any flanking protection The 2nd battalion lost 75% of their men Sparks was one of the only one who made it back to the caves out of his Company The battles of Salerno and Anzio are not as well know as the landings at Normandy, and the meat grinder they were had few comparable battles the exceptions being those winter battles the Battle of the Bulge and the battle in the Vosges mountains which Sparks fought in This was totally engaging, and gave me a greater appreciation for the men who followed Sparks path often under less than acceptable Generals whose bad decisions from weakness or ego caused unnecessary and excessive combat losses It is amazing that Sparks survived from the first landing in Sicily through the landings in Italy and southern France to the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp to the end of the war As my father firmly believed fate often is fickle and each day gives you two options you will live or die and it is a choice that no one has much input to so there is not much point in sweating it.Kershaw writes in a manner that lets a reader feel each battle clearly, it is like the topography and the intensity is as vivid as a good film I am left with many books from his bibliography to add to my to read list


  6. A.L. Sowards A.L. Sowards says:

    This book is a well written story of an incredible man Felix Sparks joined the US Army one day when, out of money and unable to find work, he ran into a recruiter He saved his money, started college, and then found himself called back into the army as fear of war escalated After Pearl Harbor, he knew he d be in for the long haul Sparks served with the 157th regiment, the Thunderbirds, a National Guard unit from Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado By the time they arrived in Europe, This book is a well written story of an incredible man Felix Sparks joined the US Army one day when, out of money and unable to find work, he ran into a recruiter He saved his money, started college, and then found himself called back into the army as fear of war escalated After Pearl Harbor, he knew he d be in for the long haul Sparks served with the 157th regiment, the Thunderbirds, a National Guard unit from Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado By the time they arrived in Europe, he was a captain in charge of a company By the time they d fought in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, across southern France and into Germany, he was a lieutenant colonel The book focuses on Sparks, but also pulls in information about what higher up officers, national leaders, and the opposing infantryman were doing I thought the extra information added to the book, and Kershaw is a skilled enough writer that I never found the transitions jumpy I also enjoyed the focus on Sparks, which kept the book easy to follow through multiple military campaigns There is a quote at the beginning of one of the chapters by a French diplomat, saying We live in a free world today because in 1945 the forces of imperfect goodness defeated the forces of near perfect evil Kershaw shows how that quote is true Sparks and his men weren t perfect There was looting, ridiculous officers seeking glory General Clark comes to mind , and STDs were widespread But the Thunderbirds did their job The nearly perfect evil part of the quote can be summed up in one word Dachau.You know that saying, war is hell You see that in this book Men broke under the constant strain of battle, and twice Sparks lost entire companies of men I guess that s a spoiler, but it s mentioned in the prologue But you also see Sparks s humanity in this book He cared about the men he led And he cared about doing what s right That was best shown in the liberation of Dachau Sparks and his men were shocked by what they found at the concentration camp Most of the men cried Some of them lost it, and began shooting the SS guards It would have been easy for Sparks to ignore what was happening, but as soon as he realized what was going on, he stopped it A photograph of him holding his hand out and shooting his pistol in the air to stop the slaughter is what inspired this book.Kershaw doesn t set out to cover the entire war, but he does a great job pulling in enough information to give readers a good picture of what was going on elsewhere The Thunderbird campaigns in Sicily, Italy, southern France instead of Normandy and the Vosges instead of the Ardennes were a change from theoften covered campaigns to the north.I highly recommend The Liberator for others who enjoy WWII nonfiction It s a book that brought me to tearsthan once, and it will stay with me for a while FYI, there is some swearing mostly in quotes from the men who fought That and details about war and life on the front make this book something I would recommend only for older readers


  7. Jill Hutchinson Jill Hutchinson says:

    Why haven t we ever heard of Felix Sparks, a young man whose experiences, bravery, and loyalty to his men in WWII are the epitome of heroism This is his story which starts with his visit, in 1989, at the age of 72, to the battlefields where he and his men fought against the retreating Germans as American forces started their long journey through Europe to victory.Sparks was a member of the 157th Regiment of the famous Thunderbird Division which landed on the shores of Sicily in an operation tha Why haven t we ever heard of Felix Sparks, a young man whose experiences, bravery, and loyalty to his men in WWII are the epitome of heroism This is his story which starts with his visit, in 1989, at the age of 72, to the battlefields where he and his men fought against the retreating Germans as American forces started their long journey through Europe to victory.Sparks was a member of the 157th Regiment of the famous Thunderbird Division which landed on the shores of Sicily in an operation that pitted them against 230,000 Italian troops and another 60,000 Germans further north Churchill was heard to mutter that he hoped it wouldn t be another Gallipoli, the disastrous action in WWI which ruined Churchill s political career for many years.We follow Sparks and his Regiment as they fight up the boot of Italy, into France, and finally reaching Germany The carnage was beyond imagining and many men were mentally broken.called shell shock during those times.and it was estimated that all men in rifle brigades became psychiatric casualties after 2oo days in combat Sparks had the gift of pulling his men together through his own acts of bravery and his presence in the front lines His individual acts of heroism should have earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor but that was not to be But even Sparks temporarily lost control when they liberated the death camp at Dachau They were just not prepared for what horrors awaited them there and the SS men still guarding the camp became the targets of a short but violent killing spree by hysterical American soldiers.There is so much in this book that there is not room in a review to do it justice The author succinctly describes the actions which can be hard to read He gives an overall picture of the path of the battles into Germany, concentrating on Sparks and his men It will make you ask the same question that started this review..why haven t we ever heard of Felix Sparks Highly recommended


  8. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    This is an extremely well written, solidly researched book that brings a slice of WWII history brilliantly to life I ve read similar titles that are nothan dull summaries of troop movements but because Kershaw makes generous use of personal interviews and letters, his writing is peppered with first person narrative quotes that make the reader feel as if they were there.


  9. happy happy says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This is an excellent, very well written account of one man s experience in World War II Mr Kershaw follows Felix Sparks from enlisting in the Army before WWII through the War and then quickly covers his post war life Mr Kershaw does his usual excellent job of telling the tale of the war from the infantryman s point of view He follows Sparks war from the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France, the fighting in France and the Vosges Mtns thru the capture of the Bavarian citie This is an excellent, very well written account of one man s experience in World War II Mr Kershaw follows Felix Sparks from enlisting in the Army before WWII through the War and then quickly covers his post war life Mr Kershaw does his usual excellent job of telling the tale of the war from the infantryman s point of view He follows Sparks war from the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France, the fighting in France and the Vosges Mtns thru the capture of the Bavarian cities of Aufschaffenberg and Nuremberg and finally the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp LTC Sparks is everything you want in a commander He cares for his men, and knows most of them personally, but knows that the mission comes first At one point, after being wounded and told he would not be able to return to his unit, the then Lt Sparks walks away from the hospital he does not have permission and hitches a ride on a B 17 and returns to his Regiment When the inevitable happens The hospital wants him back , his Regt Cdr tells him not to worry about it At the same time he was not above arguing tactics and methods with his superior officers The author makes the point that maybe he got too close to his men and this caused him great mental anguish when he unavoidably lost them He twice lost his command to enemy action This happened when he was a company commander at Anzio, where he was the sole member of his company who was not a casualty The second time was then as a bn cdr in the Vosges mtns during the last German offensive of the war Operation Nordwin He lost his 3 rifle companies when they became surrounded and were unable to be relieved Some of this incident is told from the German pov, by one of the survivors of the 12th SS Panzer Division.In addition to Col Sparks, Mr Kershaw tells the story of 157th INF, both good and bad He does not sugar coat the men He tells of men breaking under the stress of combat Atrocities committed by American Troops Mr Kershaw tells of the wholesale corruption in Italy, as well a sexual climate of the time There werethan 50,000 prostitutes in Naples in 1943 and the 157th had a VD rate ofthan 15% The powers that be were very concerned.Some of his portrayals of senior commanders are not flattering His take on Mark Clark, the American Commander in Italy is esp damning.The story of the liberation of Dachau is very well done The author tells the reaction of the Americans to what they found there Sparks fight with the Asst Div Cdr of the 42nd ID about a photo op, and the killing of SS prisoners by men under his command.In summary, this is a must read for anyone interested in World War II in specifically or the military in general


  10. Kenneth Barber Kenneth Barber says:

    This book chronicles the life of Felix Sparks Born in New Mexico, Felix joins a National Guard unit comprised of men from Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma The unit took the thunderbird as their unit emblem and were known by that symbol His unit was part of the 45th Division They first fought in the landings in Sicily They next went to Italy and took part in the Anzio campaign From there the unit landed in southern France and fought their way to Germany His unit was the first to enter Dac This book chronicles the life of Felix Sparks Born in New Mexico, Felix joins a National Guard unit comprised of men from Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma The unit took the thunderbird as their unit emblem and were known by that symbol His unit was part of the 45th Division They first fought in the landings in Sicily They next went to Italy and took part in the Anzio campaign From there the unit landed in southern France and fought their way to Germany His unit was the first to enter Dachau concentration camp He was accused of committing the executions of SS guards and it wasn t till years later that these charges were proven to be false He rose to the rank Lieutenant Colonel before the war ended He received numerous medals for his actions He spent just over 500 days in war zones He was known for his concern for his men and got to know them personally This caused him much anguish as many were killed and wounded After the war, he got a law degree and settled in Delta, Colorado He served there as district attorney and then later for two years on the state Supreme Court He also helped reorganize the Colorado National Guard When his grandson was killed in a drive by shooting, he spearheaded a drive to get gun legislation passed Despite strenuous efforts by the NRA, a law was passed making it illegal for children to have guns This is a fascinating and emotional story of one man s service to his country


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The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau [Reading] ➶ The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau By Alex Kershaw – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk The riveting true story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War, following the battlefield odyssey of a maverick US Army officer and his infantry unit as they fough One World eBook ✓ The riveting true story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War, following the battlefield odyssey of a maverick US Army officer and his infantry unit as they fought from the invasion of Italy to the liberation of Dachau at war s endFrom July the date of the Allied landing The Liberator: PDF/EPUB ² in Sicily, to May when victory in Europe was declared roughlydays no regiment saw action, and no single platoon, company, or battalion endured worse, than the one commanded by Felix Sparks, a greenhorn second lieutenant when The Liberator begins Historian Alex Kershaw vividly portrays the immense courage and stamina of Sparks and his men as they fought Liberator: One World eBook ↠ terrifying engagements against Hitler s finest troops in Sicily and Salerno and as they endured attack after attack on the beaches of Anzio with Sparks miraculously emerging as hisman company s sole survivor In the bloody battle for southern France, Sparks led his reconstituted unit into action against superbly equipped and trained die hard SS troops and demonstrated how the difference between defeat and victory would be a matter of character, not tactics or hardware Finally, he and his men were ordered to liberate Dachau, the Nazis first concentration camp It would be their greatest challenge, a soul searing test of their humanity.

10 thoughts on “The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau

  1. & & says:

    OK, where to start with this review the author, Alex Kershaw has done us all a service by telling us the story of a great and humble man, a soldier who served his country during WW2 and tookinterest in his men than in himself The man in question, unknown to most of us until now, was Felix Sparks I dare say, an average American, who becomes an extraordinary combat leader.Alex Kershaw decided to take us on this journey with Felix Sparks and the men of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the OK, where to start with this review the author, Alex Kershaw has done us all a service by telling us the story of a great and humble man, a soldier who served his country during WW2 and tookinterest in his men than in himself The man in question, unknown to most of us until now, was Felix Sparks I dare say, an average American, who becomes an extraordinary combat leader.Alex Kershaw decided to take us on this journey with Felix Sparks and the men of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Thunderbird Division after finding a unique and until now, not seen photograph of an American officer stopping US troops from shooting unarmed Waffen SS prisoners at Dachuau Concentration Camp What a photo, it s true a picture is worth a thousand words But the journey begins with a young Felix Sparks prior to WW2 and then follows him and the men of the 45th Division from training through the Sicily invasion, onto Italy Anzio, then Southern France, the hard fighting through Alsace Lorraine and the forests of the Vosges and into Bavaria till the end of the war We then read about the life of this amazing man after the war and all the things he managed to accomplish along with tragedy within his family.This book is a enjoyable read, fast paced, full of interesting and great stories about American soldiers faced with the horrendous costs of fighting against tough adversaries and how humanity can still survive after and during the horrors of war I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great read of men in combat or to anyone who just enjoys a good story this has to be Alex s best book so far

  2. JD JD says:

    What a good read this was It is the story of Felix Sparks and his journey through World War 2, but it also brings in many different and interesting little tales of the campaigns and men he fought with and for His story isn t like the glory of many other books of men who fought in the war, but also tells of the real horror, the bureaucracy of the army, the glory seeking leaders and the average soldiers life on the front and in the rear while resting I like all these little facts and stories Ke What a good read this was It is the story of Felix Sparks and his journey through World War 2, but it also brings in many different and interesting little tales of the campaigns and men he fought with and for His story isn t like the glory of many other books of men who fought in the war, but also tells of the real horror, the bureaucracy of the army, the glory seeking leaders and the average soldiers life on the front and in the rear while resting I like all these little facts and stories Kershaw brings into the book and I really enjoyed the book a lot I lost this book after starting it and when I found it again I finished it in mere days

  3. Lewis Weinstein Lewis Weinstein says:

    I read the sections describing the American forces entry into Dachau a stunning and powerful personal account

  4. Jill Mackin Jill Mackin says:

    Felix Sparks is a hero from WW2 He helped with the invasion of Italy and fought all the way into Germany Along the way he liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp Alex Kershaw has written an excellent story of Col Sparks leadership and a great saga recounting his tour in Europe.Highly recommend.

  5. Kate Kate says:

    This is a story of Felix Sparks and his rise through the ranks as a National Guard soldier who is shipped out with the 157th Regiment, known as the Thunderbirds who would start their war with the landings in Sicily This Regiment would be in the war 511 days, loose 3,650 men, suffer 13,729 men wounded in battle, and 41,647 non combat casualities yet be one of the least written about least awarded Regiments in the war Like all stories of war and the men who fight them and the men charged with le This is a story of Felix Sparks and his rise through the ranks as a National Guard soldier who is shipped out with the 157th Regiment, known as the Thunderbirds who would start their war with the landings in Sicily This Regiment would be in the war 511 days, loose 3,650 men, suffer 13,729 men wounded in battle, and 41,647 non combat casualities yet be one of the least written about least awarded Regiments in the war Like all stories of war and the men who fight them and the men charged with leading them what is viewed as important often comes down to which general is the most publicity seeking, who hero de jour, and has the swagger civilians think are attributes to real warriors The press which prefers access and lives on briefings and is easily distracted away from the real stories to the ones which promise the most success.The landings on Sicily with the strategy of marching up the boot of Italy to attack the underbelly of the Reich was at best an ill conceived adventure, promoted by the British and Churchill as the easiest route to the invasion into Germany I had an uncle who was an infantryman in this venture, I don t know if he was one of the fresh replacement recruits who was thrown into this venture late in the Italian campaign after it stalled or anything about his story because he never spoke of it not even to my father who was a Veteran from the Pacific.I do know that Felix Sparks if Alex Kershaw has portrayed him correctly was the type of officer that my father would have respected, much like he respected Matt Ridgeway because there were so many Generals and officers he held little respect for Sparks got his first battle command of E Company before the invasion of Italy after Sicily was put to bed He was a soldier who took time to know his men, and stayed with them and never failed to take his objective even if the Companies around him couldn t and left both he and his men without any flanking protection The 2nd battalion lost 75% of their men Sparks was one of the only one who made it back to the caves out of his Company The battles of Salerno and Anzio are not as well know as the landings at Normandy, and the meat grinder they were had few comparable battles the exceptions being those winter battles the Battle of the Bulge and the battle in the Vosges mountains which Sparks fought in This was totally engaging, and gave me a greater appreciation for the men who followed Sparks path often under less than acceptable Generals whose bad decisions from weakness or ego caused unnecessary and excessive combat losses It is amazing that Sparks survived from the first landing in Sicily through the landings in Italy and southern France to the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp to the end of the war As my father firmly believed fate often is fickle and each day gives you two options you will live or die and it is a choice that no one has much input to so there is not much point in sweating it.Kershaw writes in a manner that lets a reader feel each battle clearly, it is like the topography and the intensity is as vivid as a good film I am left with many books from his bibliography to add to my to read list

  6. A.L. Sowards A.L. Sowards says:

    This book is a well written story of an incredible man Felix Sparks joined the US Army one day when, out of money and unable to find work, he ran into a recruiter He saved his money, started college, and then found himself called back into the army as fear of war escalated After Pearl Harbor, he knew he d be in for the long haul Sparks served with the 157th regiment, the Thunderbirds, a National Guard unit from Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado By the time they arrived in Europe, This book is a well written story of an incredible man Felix Sparks joined the US Army one day when, out of money and unable to find work, he ran into a recruiter He saved his money, started college, and then found himself called back into the army as fear of war escalated After Pearl Harbor, he knew he d be in for the long haul Sparks served with the 157th regiment, the Thunderbirds, a National Guard unit from Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado By the time they arrived in Europe, he was a captain in charge of a company By the time they d fought in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, across southern France and into Germany, he was a lieutenant colonel The book focuses on Sparks, but also pulls in information about what higher up officers, national leaders, and the opposing infantryman were doing I thought the extra information added to the book, and Kershaw is a skilled enough writer that I never found the transitions jumpy I also enjoyed the focus on Sparks, which kept the book easy to follow through multiple military campaigns There is a quote at the beginning of one of the chapters by a French diplomat, saying We live in a free world today because in 1945 the forces of imperfect goodness defeated the forces of near perfect evil Kershaw shows how that quote is true Sparks and his men weren t perfect There was looting, ridiculous officers seeking glory General Clark comes to mind , and STDs were widespread But the Thunderbirds did their job The nearly perfect evil part of the quote can be summed up in one word Dachau.You know that saying, war is hell You see that in this book Men broke under the constant strain of battle, and twice Sparks lost entire companies of men I guess that s a spoiler, but it s mentioned in the prologue But you also see Sparks s humanity in this book He cared about the men he led And he cared about doing what s right That was best shown in the liberation of Dachau Sparks and his men were shocked by what they found at the concentration camp Most of the men cried Some of them lost it, and began shooting the SS guards It would have been easy for Sparks to ignore what was happening, but as soon as he realized what was going on, he stopped it A photograph of him holding his hand out and shooting his pistol in the air to stop the slaughter is what inspired this book.Kershaw doesn t set out to cover the entire war, but he does a great job pulling in enough information to give readers a good picture of what was going on elsewhere The Thunderbird campaigns in Sicily, Italy, southern France instead of Normandy and the Vosges instead of the Ardennes were a change from theoften covered campaigns to the north.I highly recommend The Liberator for others who enjoy WWII nonfiction It s a book that brought me to tearsthan once, and it will stay with me for a while FYI, there is some swearing mostly in quotes from the men who fought That and details about war and life on the front make this book something I would recommend only for older readers

  7. Jill Hutchinson Jill Hutchinson says:

    Why haven t we ever heard of Felix Sparks, a young man whose experiences, bravery, and loyalty to his men in WWII are the epitome of heroism This is his story which starts with his visit, in 1989, at the age of 72, to the battlefields where he and his men fought against the retreating Germans as American forces started their long journey through Europe to victory.Sparks was a member of the 157th Regiment of the famous Thunderbird Division which landed on the shores of Sicily in an operation tha Why haven t we ever heard of Felix Sparks, a young man whose experiences, bravery, and loyalty to his men in WWII are the epitome of heroism This is his story which starts with his visit, in 1989, at the age of 72, to the battlefields where he and his men fought against the retreating Germans as American forces started their long journey through Europe to victory.Sparks was a member of the 157th Regiment of the famous Thunderbird Division which landed on the shores of Sicily in an operation that pitted them against 230,000 Italian troops and another 60,000 Germans further north Churchill was heard to mutter that he hoped it wouldn t be another Gallipoli, the disastrous action in WWI which ruined Churchill s political career for many years.We follow Sparks and his Regiment as they fight up the boot of Italy, into France, and finally reaching Germany The carnage was beyond imagining and many men were mentally broken.called shell shock during those times.and it was estimated that all men in rifle brigades became psychiatric casualties after 2oo days in combat Sparks had the gift of pulling his men together through his own acts of bravery and his presence in the front lines His individual acts of heroism should have earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor but that was not to be But even Sparks temporarily lost control when they liberated the death camp at Dachau They were just not prepared for what horrors awaited them there and the SS men still guarding the camp became the targets of a short but violent killing spree by hysterical American soldiers.There is so much in this book that there is not room in a review to do it justice The author succinctly describes the actions which can be hard to read He gives an overall picture of the path of the battles into Germany, concentrating on Sparks and his men It will make you ask the same question that started this review..why haven t we ever heard of Felix Sparks Highly recommended

  8. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    This is an extremely well written, solidly researched book that brings a slice of WWII history brilliantly to life I ve read similar titles that are nothan dull summaries of troop movements but because Kershaw makes generous use of personal interviews and letters, his writing is peppered with first person narrative quotes that make the reader feel as if they were there.

  9. happy happy says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This is an excellent, very well written account of one man s experience in World War II Mr Kershaw follows Felix Sparks from enlisting in the Army before WWII through the War and then quickly covers his post war life Mr Kershaw does his usual excellent job of telling the tale of the war from the infantryman s point of view He follows Sparks war from the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France, the fighting in France and the Vosges Mtns thru the capture of the Bavarian citie This is an excellent, very well written account of one man s experience in World War II Mr Kershaw follows Felix Sparks from enlisting in the Army before WWII through the War and then quickly covers his post war life Mr Kershaw does his usual excellent job of telling the tale of the war from the infantryman s point of view He follows Sparks war from the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France, the fighting in France and the Vosges Mtns thru the capture of the Bavarian cities of Aufschaffenberg and Nuremberg and finally the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp LTC Sparks is everything you want in a commander He cares for his men, and knows most of them personally, but knows that the mission comes first At one point, after being wounded and told he would not be able to return to his unit, the then Lt Sparks walks away from the hospital he does not have permission and hitches a ride on a B 17 and returns to his Regiment When the inevitable happens The hospital wants him back , his Regt Cdr tells him not to worry about it At the same time he was not above arguing tactics and methods with his superior officers The author makes the point that maybe he got too close to his men and this caused him great mental anguish when he unavoidably lost them He twice lost his command to enemy action This happened when he was a company commander at Anzio, where he was the sole member of his company who was not a casualty The second time was then as a bn cdr in the Vosges mtns during the last German offensive of the war Operation Nordwin He lost his 3 rifle companies when they became surrounded and were unable to be relieved Some of this incident is told from the German pov, by one of the survivors of the 12th SS Panzer Division.In addition to Col Sparks, Mr Kershaw tells the story of 157th INF, both good and bad He does not sugar coat the men He tells of men breaking under the stress of combat Atrocities committed by American Troops Mr Kershaw tells of the wholesale corruption in Italy, as well a sexual climate of the time There werethan 50,000 prostitutes in Naples in 1943 and the 157th had a VD rate ofthan 15% The powers that be were very concerned.Some of his portrayals of senior commanders are not flattering His take on Mark Clark, the American Commander in Italy is esp damning.The story of the liberation of Dachau is very well done The author tells the reaction of the Americans to what they found there Sparks fight with the Asst Div Cdr of the 42nd ID about a photo op, and the killing of SS prisoners by men under his command.In summary, this is a must read for anyone interested in World War II in specifically or the military in general

  10. Kenneth Barber Kenneth Barber says:

    This book chronicles the life of Felix Sparks Born in New Mexico, Felix joins a National Guard unit comprised of men from Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma The unit took the thunderbird as their unit emblem and were known by that symbol His unit was part of the 45th Division They first fought in the landings in Sicily They next went to Italy and took part in the Anzio campaign From there the unit landed in southern France and fought their way to Germany His unit was the first to enter Dac This book chronicles the life of Felix Sparks Born in New Mexico, Felix joins a National Guard unit comprised of men from Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma The unit took the thunderbird as their unit emblem and were known by that symbol His unit was part of the 45th Division They first fought in the landings in Sicily They next went to Italy and took part in the Anzio campaign From there the unit landed in southern France and fought their way to Germany His unit was the first to enter Dachau concentration camp He was accused of committing the executions of SS guards and it wasn t till years later that these charges were proven to be false He rose to the rank Lieutenant Colonel before the war ended He received numerous medals for his actions He spent just over 500 days in war zones He was known for his concern for his men and got to know them personally This caused him much anguish as many were killed and wounded After the war, he got a law degree and settled in Delta, Colorado He served there as district attorney and then later for two years on the state Supreme Court He also helped reorganize the Colorado National Guard When his grandson was killed in a drive by shooting, he spearheaded a drive to get gun legislation passed Despite strenuous efforts by the NRA, a law was passed making it illegal for children to have guns This is a fascinating and emotional story of one man s service to his country

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