Monday, September 19, 2011

News items: Reenactors and reviews

I have the utmost respect for historical reenactors. Whether they are working at a historic site or a private group, these living historians work hard at an accurate portrayal of the period that they are reenacting. They bring history to life for every age group. I would like to give a shout out to one group of World War II reenactors who, as far as I know, are they only group to represent the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion: The 509th Historical Reenactment Group. They will be participating in WWII Days at the Midway Village Museum in Rockford, IL this coming weekend, September 24-25. If you are in the area, check out the event. Or, if you live too far away like me, check out their website soon for some pictures.

Since we released “The Boldest Plan is the Best: The Combat History of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion During WWII” I’ve sweated out the most critical review possible, from my dad. He is a combat veteran of the 187th Regimental Combat Team (Airborne) in Korea, and an avid reader of military history and military historical fiction. He received his copy of “The Boldest Plan is the Best” last Saturday and told me to give him a couple of days to read it, and then he’d give me a critique over the phone. ;-)

One of the best things about the U.S. Army Center for Military History is that just about everything they publish is available online for free download. I wanted to pass along that the latest issue of their journal, Army History, is available online in pdf format. Looks like a great article on the U.S. Cavalry that I’m looking forward to reading. It’s a subject that is near and dear to my own heart.

Blackhorse!

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.