You may recall the book by Stephen Ambrose, BAND OF BROTHERS, a unit history of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment from its inception in July 1942 to occupation duty in Austria after the Nazi surrender. Much of the story focused on Richard "Dick" Winters, who rose from Easy Company's 2nd Platoon leader to 2nd Battalion commander over the course of the war. Winter's character was played by Damian Lewis in the BAND OF BROTHERS TV miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO, arguably the best small screen miniseries ever created.
BEYOND BAND OF BROTHERS (BBB) is the war memoirs of Dick Winters, written with a certain Colonel Cole Kingseed, the nature of whose contribution to the whole goes unexplained in the narrative. But, no matter, really.
BBB essentially follows, and ostensibly embellishes with insider knowledge, the history of Easy Company as outlined in the original book: training at Toccoa, GA and in southern England, the D-Day parachute drop into France, the slog through Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, the discovery of the Buchloe concentration camp, the capture of Berchtesgaden, and the post-surrender occupation duty in Kaprun, Austria.
Even with Kingseed's help, Winters is no Stephen Ambrose. His narrative, aided by a reasonably illustrative photographic section, is business-like and competent but not inspired. A glaring omission is the lack of battlefield maps, which would have been especially helpful for the D-Day, Holland, and Bastogne campaigns. And Winter's makes repeated reference to a mysterious "friend" back in the States, DeEtta Almon, with whom he carries on a sporadic and sometimes awkward correspondence. Is this the "Ethel" he married after returning home? Did I miss something?
BBB is obviously the author's farewell tribute to his comrades-in-arms. As such, he can be forgiven the last couple of chapters which drip with nostalgia. If not now, when? And Winters and his men certainly deserve the written memory.
I served in the Navy for nearly eleven years. I can recall only one superior whom I would've followed to hell and back. (Mike P. at Florida's Blood Center, are you taking note?) Such a leader is rare in military and civilian life. Dick Winters comes across as such. Because of that, I'm awarding BEYOND BAND OF BROTHERS 4 stars and a salute to its author. Honor is due.