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If You Survive [Paperback]

George Wilson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Mass Market Paperback £5.27  
Paperback, July 1997 --  

Book Description

July 1997
"If you survive your first day, I'll promote you."

So promised George Wilson's World War II commanding officer in the hedgerows of Normandy -- and it was to be a promise dramatically fulfilled. From July, 1944, to the closing days of the war, from the first penetration of the Siegfried Line to the Nazis' last desperate charge in the Battle of the Bulge, Wilson fought in the thickest of the action, helping take the small towns of northern France and Belgium building by building.

Of all the men and officers who started out in Company F of the 4th Infantry Division with him, Wilson was the only one who finished. In the end, he felt not like a conqueror or a victor, but an exhausted survivor, left with nothing but his life -- and his emotions.

If You Survive

One of the great first-person accounts of the making of a combat veteran, in the last, most violent months of World War II.


From the Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449001032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449001035
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,465,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Even though America was heavily engage in World War II in the fall of 1942, I felt safe in enrolling in college because the Marines and the Navy had turned me down. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb First Hand WWII Combat Account 22 May 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the very best first hand accounts of WWII combat from the point of view of a young, green, American infanty officer who quickly becomes a veteran combat commander.
Truly superb insight into life in the front line from the St Lo Breakout, through the forgotten hell of Hurtgen, the Ardennes and twice through the Siegfried line.
The best I have yet read for an insight of infantry fighting at a platoon and company level.
I urge you to read this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Restrained and thoughtful 29 Mar 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
George Wilson is (Or was) no great stylist as a writer, and tries to neither impress nor manipulate the reader- his book is all the better for it. What he obviously was, was a modest, brave, and decent man, the kind of citizen soldier of which a nation should be proud. His book covers a period from D-Day to the end of the war, as an infantry lieutenant and sometime acting company commander. He fought through the Hurtgen Forest in a formation completely destroyed by losses and then rebuilt, fighting as brutal and unforgiving as any on the Western Front. He is thoughtful and humane on failures in training and equipment in his own army, and failures of personnel, and his work would serve as a useful training primer for comapny level infantry actions even today. This book is a fine antidote to gung-ho memoirs, or even to higher level histories which serve patriotic agendas. Read it and be grateful.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent First Hand Account 7 Aug 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent and moving first hand account of the war in Europe from July 1944 as seen from the view point of a young officer in a rifle company.
Wilson manages to convey the fear, toil, fatigue, and futility of life in an infantry battalion through the break-out from Normandy, the awful fighting in Hurtgen, and the Battle of the Bulge.
I couldn't put it down.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than "Saving Private Ryan." 30 May 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you liked "Saving Private Ryan" you will love this book. Willson was "lucky?" enough to be in every major battle; Saint Lo, Falaise, Siegfried Line, Hurtgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge. He was always on the very front line and he survived! This book is easy to read and very hard to put down. I was very sorry when I got to the very last page and there was no more to read. If you want action, forget movie theaters. Read this book.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt I was there! 14 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
George Wilson tells a tale that many of us have wondered what it was like to have fought in the 2nd world war. He is vivid in every detail. He gives chilling accounts of front line life, the battles, the men who gave up their lives, the men who cracked under pressure. He also gave the Germans a look of humanity at times. The battle scarred Germans gave up pretty easy in some cases, and most of the times, they fought with such vigor and violence it blew me away. I cried at some points in the book. I felt sick in others. I could have sworn I hear mortar shells flying over my head, and men crying for help. He gave accounts of men doing the right thing and the wrong thing, and the wrong thing in war usually leads up to death ... and a lot of wrong stuff that was done caused some men their lives. George Wilson did a wonderful job as a solider, Lt., in the second world war, and a brilliant way of bringing the war to us. Thank you George for the book and the fighting you did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A very well-written and exciting story. It tries very hard to give a good account of the way it was in the last year of the war, especially 'The Battle of the Bulge. The only thing that I did not like was that Mr. Wilson seems to gloss over some of the details, most probably in an effort to save the reader from some of the horror he faced.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Read, but!! 22 Jun 2011
By Will
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very good read and I am in awe of all the people who have fought for our freedom over the years.

I have to disagree with some of the comments regarding Lt Wilson. Reading his account I wonder why he didn't end up with 5 medals of honor or be a general at the end as he seems to have single handedly been at the forefront of all the big battles and made all the major decisions on how to carry out an action. I somehow can't believe that all the much senior officers would always defer to his decisions.
I would have enjoyed it better if he had a bit more humility.

But saying that, he did take part and for that I am very grateful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put this book down! 14 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was so engrossing--it was very hard to put down. There is not one slow part in this book. I was in awe of George Wilson and was impressed with how well he faced each challenge that confronted him, particularly the challenge of working with fresh recruits. You will also be amazed and saddened by the the number of friendly-fire casualties written about here--many done by jittery new recruits not yet battle-hardened and others caused my unfortunate misunderstandings. The whole book is very well-written and includes so much detail about each battle and patrol. I'm thankful Mr. Wilson took the time to write about his experiences in WWII. Think I'll have to read the book again--I miss it already!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very well written and takes you close to his experiences in combat and his army life in WW2.
Published 19 days ago by John Clutterbuck
5.0 out of 5 stars Great real life account
Fantastic book. If you like real life accounts about the war then read this book. I would definitely recommend this book.
Published 2 months ago by A Hawley
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Good viewpoint from a platoon commander of an Infantry platoon who seems always to be in the wrong place at the wrong time
Published 3 months ago by Stu
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A very good read from a personalized perspective, a story that does not sensationalized but tells one man's story of a part of his life.
Published 3 months ago by Martin Batstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me involved
Excellent read.Would highly recommend to any body interested in ww2.
Thank you everybody for giving this book a high star rating.
Published 3 months ago by paul cryer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Story of a relatively unknown part of the US Army in Europe. Whilst the 101st, 82nd and Patton's 3rd Army are famed and have been extensively documented, the story of the 1st Army... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Moving
George Wilson is outstanding as an intelligent man who notices and comments upon his experiences and observations mostly very objectively....in some cases with admirable restraint. Read more
Published 6 months ago by BarbaraM
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
I bought this book for my husband for Christmas and he did't put it down until he had finished it so I think that says it all.
Published 6 months ago by Trixie Dee
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive Reading
We are all for ever indebted to George's generation. Compulsive reading, let's never forget their sacrifices, in the reality and futility of war.
Published 8 months ago by john steele
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
it was such a good read really took to the places and was like being there I can't image what it would have in there position
Published 9 months ago by A. TUCKER
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