Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Questions Re: “The Boldest Plan is the Best”

“The Boldest Plan is the Best: The Combat History of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion during WWII” is now available on Amazon.com. We will soon be launching an “author’s website” with maps and extra pictures that did not make it into the book. More details on that very soon. Sheila and I are thrilled with the response so far. As a matter of fact, I have already received some questions via email that I thought I’d share with you here:

In writing your book, how is it distinguishable from “Stand in the Door” by Charles Doyle and Terrell Stewart? What will I find that is not covered in previous books? Was there anything that you found in your research that was not accurately described in previous accounts?

“Stand in the Door: The Wartime History of the Elite 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion” was written by two veterans of the 509th PIB and published in 1988. It is now out of print and difficult to find short of visiting the AHEC or having your local reference librarian borrow it through WorldCat. The co-authors of the book gathered narratives from many other veterans to tell the story of their experiences during World War II. Stand in the Door was a major reference for “The Boldest Plan is the Best” and as a historian I wish more veterans had undertaken a project for their unit like Doyle and Stewart did. However, Stand in the Door is a veteran’s narrative written for other veterans and their families. I tried to present the story of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion in WWII in a greater historical context for a broader audience. There is also more devoted to the wartime commanders of the 509th PIB: Edson Raff, Doyle Yardley, William Yarborough, and Edmund Tomasik, than I feel was presented in Stand in the Door. You’ll see in the bibliography that I gathered every source available to bring in some voices that aren’t heard in Stand in the Door.

The target audience for “Boldest Plan is the Best” is one that is not necessarily familiar with early airborne, much less the Geronimos. There really is no other “one source” volume, other than perhaps “Stand in the Door,” devoted to the gingerbread men of WWII. Other works of military history mention the 509th Parachute Infantry when they appear at a certain point in their narrative, but I have no knowledge of any other books devoted solely to this unit.

For you military history aficionados, you’ll appreciate that I did find a number of minor differences and discrepancies in, and between, secondary source works by Devlin, Flanagan, and Breuer. But they were minor; mostly in time, date, place, numbers of casualties, etc. The usual, I assume, that would occur in the absence of the volume of primary source documentation that exists with the airborne divisions from WWII, and nothing that would change the course of the story.

I’m always looking forward to your feedback. Feel free to email me at jim@rovinghistorian.com.

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