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Our Tortured Souls: The 29th Infantry Division in the Rhineland, November-December 1944 [Kindle Edition]

Joseph Balkoski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Joseph Balkoski is the top living D-Day historian. --USA Today

"Balkoski has fingertip command of his sources, and a sense of the dramatic that never loses touch with the brutal realities of combat." --Dennis Showalter, past president of the Society for Military History and author of Patton and Rommel

  • Continues Balkoski's acclaimed multivolume history of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division in World War II
  • Covers the division's vital role in the U.S. Army's November offensive, which Gen. Omar Bradley hoped would get the Allies to the Rhine River by Christmas
  • A riveting story of heroism and tragedy, during which thousands of 29ers became casualties in a campaign that ultimately failed to end the war
  • Balkoski blends meticulous research with masterful storytelling


  • Product details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 4225 KB
    • Print Length: 405 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0811711692
    • Publisher: Stackpole Books (1 Jan. 2013)
    • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00CBX00MW
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #777,707 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Mr Balkoski 23 Jan. 2014
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    Thank you Mr Balkoski
    Your four-volume account of the 29th DI can do nothing but good. It reminds me that our lives today both here in Europe and in the United States owe so much to those young men and to their families. It humbles us when we learn of the atrocious conditions they fought under...what bravery and what determination to finish the job. From your grandiose introduction to 'Beyond the Beachhead' to the searing events on the banks of the Roer you offer us powerful and compelling reading. Your books are a world away from the gung-ho, anaesthetised versions of WW2 as presented by the early generation of Hollywood films. The reality you describe is one of suffering and endurance. Equally fascinating are your insights into the character of General Gerhardt, a leader who was totally ruthless towards the Nazis, but also to his own men. I keep hoping that he's going to develop a more humane style of leadership, but it doesn't really happen.
    The four volumes (it's difficult to avoid the comparison) are like the first four acts of a
    Shakesperean tragedy. Can I hope that there will be a fifth and final act ?
    Was this review helpful to you?
    0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, accurate and informative. 17 Jan. 2014
    By woozle
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    I bought this book for a friend who is researching his late father's war history as a german soldier in the 29th infantry division fighting on the eastern front. He found the book very useful for his research and even described the capture of the remainder of his troop by the Russians after he himself had been picked up by the Americans having trodden on a mine. Very useful and my friend was extremely happy with it.
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
    Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars What the war was like, autumn 1944, shown by one division 3 Jan. 2013
    By David C. Isby - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    The bitter fighting along the German frontier in the autumn of 1944 may lack the drama of D-Day or the Bulge, but for all that was just as hard and lethal Here, Joseph Balkoski has brought one division's part of these battles out of the shadows.

    These battles were where the US Army realized that it was not going to be over by Christmas, 1944. This is an excellent telling of the story making full use of the opportunities for continuity provided by its multi-volume format to present clear black and white operational and tactical maps, and vivid and exciting descriptions of specific tactical situations. A It also demonstrates a greater awareness of the history, both in the headquarters and in the foxholes, than that reflected in the US Army's "Green Book" official history treatment or other books from an earlier generation.

    Balkoski is an objective but powerful historian. He brings both the grand strategy that determined how and why his GIs fought, but also the details. Here are the distilled impressions of contemporaneous records and veterans alike, of parties out of the line, headquarters in combat, and waterlogged foxholes. Balkoski aims to present not just one "face of battle", but to show what the many thousand of soldiers that made up the division - a living, fighting, community - saw and experienced as they fought through those bitter months.

    This is the fourth (and penultimate) volume of Joseph Balkoski's history of the 29th Infantry Division in the Second World War. No other US division in that conflict - not the Big Red One, or the 82nd, or even the 1st Marines - has had a five-volume history. Nor is any other division likely to receive this treatment. The 29th, from its mobilization in 1940, through its most famous day of combat on Omaha Beach in D-Day, and, in this volume, into the Rhineland, was both typical of the US Army yet exceptional.

    The author has, in the previous volumes, made excellent use of the broad canvas this affords him. Indeed, because of its scope and because it came decades after most US divisional histories, this divisional history has been part of a revision of how history sees the US Army in the ETO. These books show a resilient force, capable of learning under fire, and in the final analysis more able to evolve on the battlefields than its highly-capable opponents.
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Not To Be Missed 11 Mar. 2013
    By Timothy F. Blixt - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Hardcover
    I am a bit surprised, and more than a bit saddened, to so that this is just the second review for this book. I can state at the outset that I am a huge fan of Balkoski's books----especially the four devoted to the telling of the 29th I.D. story. It is probably safe to say that no author alive today knows the 29th better than Joe Balkoski, and the other reviewer has done a wonderful job of detailing many of the virtues of this book. I would only add that each of these four books about the 29th are, to my way of thinking, essential. For anyone who might think that it was clear sailing for the Allies, save for that one blip in the Ardennes, once they broke through the bocage region in France after the D-Day landings, these books will absolutely dispel those thoughts. The 29th fought terrific actions further into France and Germany---especially those in the Brittany port area, as well as those actions associated with the effort to cross the Roer River so well detailed in this book. No matter where the 29th went after Normandy, they faced a very difficult and determined enemy----that they successfully completed their missions is a tribute to the fighting character of this relatively unsung Division. Readers of these four books will almost certainly come away questioning the quality of some of the leadership of the 29th. Though I suspect I know a least some of Balkoski's opinions of some of the difficulties the 29th had to overcome, I would welcome an appreciation by Balkoski of the reasons he feels the Division faced such enormous challenges, i.e. was it leadership, or lack thereof? Was it poorly trained or inadequately staffed units? Were there materiel shortages? Was it simply very effective German units on the other side? Though the 29th ultimately triumphed, it did so at heavy cost and I'd love to hear an analysis by Joe Balkoski as to why that might have been.
    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating 30 Sept. 2013
    By ilbob - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    This is a book I got for free in the Kindle edition. It covers the history of the 29th infantry division during the last two months of December 1944.

    The division had no shortage of heros. It did seem to have a serious shortage of competent leadership at the very top that led to an almost unbelievable level of casualties among the rifle companies that took the brunt of the fighting. yet, the division fought on.

    The book is meticulous in detail, heavily foot noted and documented, with both official sources and personal remembrances included.
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK 26 Jun. 2013
    By Cindy Mackie - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    Bought this for a dear friend who fought on Omaha Beach 29th Division. It was perfect! He couldn't put it down.
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars love Balkoski 1 April 2014
    By Charlie - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    As always jJoe has done an incredible and detailed story about the29th in WW II. BOTH The officers and enlisted men get a chance to tell their story! A fine account....
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