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Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II Hardcover – 15 Nov 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (15 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891416706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891416708
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,017,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Belton Y. Cooper is president of the Herman Williams Company in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lives with his wife, Rebecca. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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My feelings were somewhat ambivalent as I stood on the deck of the landing craft and looked down at the gently rolling seas of the English Channel. Read the first page
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Dec. 1998
Format: Hardcover
Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II is an unusual addition to the growing pile of memoirs being published as WW II veterans age and then die. It is not written by a soldier who was in the thick of combat and has brave tales to tell, nor is it the story of someone in command, explaining and justifying his decisions. Instead, Cooper was a junior officer in charge of vehicle maintenance for the 3rd Armored Division as it fought its way from Normandy to Central Germany. He was always right behind the front lines, but seldom in combat, though frequently exposed to sniper and artillery fire. The main revelation of Death Traps is obvious from its title: the famous M4 Sherman tank which was the mainstay of American armor during the war was completely inadequate when facing German tanks. American commanders, especially Gen. Patton, chose to continue producing the Sherman even when they knew it could not face German tanks and antitank guns, and American tank crews paid a heavy price for this mistake. Cooper has done his homework. Unlike many war memoirs, he has spent time reading the general histories in recent years, and gets the background information right when he discusses the pursuit across France, the invasion of Germany, and the Battle of the Bulge. But the most important thing here is the details: how the Sherman worked, how maintenance was carried out under harsh conditions, and, especially, what happened when a high-velocity 75 mm or 88 mm shell hit an M4.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
From reading this book I felt that Mr. Cooper provided little known facts regarding the entire spectrum of armored warfare. By relating his experience as an Ordance Officer in the United States Army during WWII, Mr. Cooper describes the organization, development, and deployment strategies of armored divisions from Normandy to the outskirts of Berlin. Cooper also details the design and development of the M-4 Sherman Tank, which was unfortunately dictated by politics. The inferiority of the Sherman Tank as compared to the German Panzers was also outlined in detail. Mr. Cooper also discusses little known facts regarding the developmnet of the M-26 Pershing and "Super Pershing". I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in WWII.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Feb. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Belton Cooper's story embodies the "GI Joe" Perspective. His candor, though somewhat biased at times, is to be admired. Mr. Cooper advises the reader that his recollections and opinions are basically his own. Mr. Cooper provides a number of insightful and heroic tales equal in breadth to Martin Middlebrook's "Arnhem 1944" The near tragic counter battery incident and massacre of American bombers were two of the best ground level stories available to the general public in recent years. The book is quite a valuable reference tool for the serious military historian. The only significant criticism is directed towards the editing. The publisher should have assisted Mr. Cooper (who is admirably a first time writer) perhaps in better organizing tactical reference maps and explaining army corp level operations. The publisher, like many others in the past, egregiously misidentifies photographs. For example, General Maurice Rose was not killed in action on March 30, 1944. Third Armor wasn't even on the continent at the time.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dean Allison VINE VOICE on 9 Nov. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If like me you have a strong holistic interest in WWII history and you buy a lot of books from publishers such as Fedorowics, Heimdal, Historie & collections, and Panzer Tracts ect you will find too many issues with this book to take it seriously.
I don't doubt the credentials of its author but the book has far too many glaring inaccuracies and suspect claims to keep me interested until the end.
Typical post war commercial mass-market library book fodder of interest only to those who already have a one sided and blinkered understanding of WWII.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Jan. 1999
Format: Hardcover
An outstanding book, and a refreshing look at WW II. Belton Cooper has provided us with a refreshing new look at the classic armored warfare of WW II in Western Europe. As a junior ordnance (maintenance officer) with the 3rd Armored Division "Spearhead", 1LT Cooper had a tremendous vantage point. His duties required him to spend his days immediately behind the front line battle coordinating repairs and accounting for combat losses. He spent his nights driving through potentially enemy territory to the Division's Maintenance Battalion in the rear to locate replacement vehicles, repaired vehicles and crews. Although not a front line soldier, 1LT Cooper was frequently in the thick of battle with the 3rd AD and or running a gauntlet of sniper fire and artillery in his jeep. He clearly details how armored vehicle recovery and maintenance was performed either at the front or in the rear. Of particular interest to me was his description of the Ordnance Corps' role in training the replacement tank crews, and essentially commanding these vehicles and crews until they were turned over to the combat units at the front. This practice is what we today call Weapons System Replacement Operations. He also describes other logistical efforts in supplying a fast moving armored division with fuel and ammunition. Most importantly, Cooper describes the shortcomings of the American M4 Sherman Tank. The M4 was outgunned by and insufficiently armored in comparison to the German Mark IV, V and VI tanks it faced. Cooper describes in excellent detail the 3rd Armored Division's use of combined arms and air power to compensate for the M4's weaknesses. Cooper weaves his tale in a style similar to Stephen Ambrose's style with one exception.Read more ›
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