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The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau [Paperback]

Alex Kershaw
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Oct 2013
The untold story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War
 
   Written with Alex Kershaw's trademark narrative drive and vivid immediacy, The Liberator traces the remarkable battlefield journey of maverick U.S. Army officer Felix Sparks through the Allied liberation of Europe—from the first landing in Italy to the final death throes of the Third Reich.
   Over five hundred bloody days, Sparks and his infantry unit battled from the beaches of Sicily through the mountains of Italy and France, ultimately enduring bitter and desperate winter combat against the die-hard SS on the Fatherland's borders. Having miraculously survived the long, bloody march across Europe, Sparks was selected to lead a final charge to Bavaria, where he and his men experienced some of the most intense street fighting suffered by Americans in World War II.
   And when he finally arrived at the gates of Dachau, Sparks confronted scenes that robbed the mind of reason—and put his humanity to the ultimate test.


Product details

  • Paperback: 433 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (15 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307888002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307888006
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,081,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[Kershaw] is a captivating narrator, hammering home the chaos and carnage of war, sparing no sensory detail to paint a cohesive picture. [His] portrayal of his subject (based on interviews with Sparks, who died in 2007, and other survivors) makes for a riveting, almost epic tale of a larger-than-life, underappreciated figure." - "Publishers Weekly" (starred review)"This engrossing wartime narrative offers a fresh look at the European campaign and an intimate sense of the war's toll on individual participants." - "Kirkus Reviews""A searing, brilliantly told story of the heroism and horror of war, Alex Kershaw's "The Liberator "is a book that's impossible to put down. A must read for anyone who loved "Band of Brothers"." - Lynne Olson, author of "Citizens of London" "Alex Kershaw, long acclaimed for his terse, lightning-fast narratives of true wartime action and heroism, reaches his full maturity with this sweeping saga of a legendary infantry unit and the leader who spurred it to glory." - Ron Powers, co-author of "Flags of Our Fathers""A literary tour de force. Kershaw brilliantly captures the pathos and untold perspective of WWII through the eyes of one of its most courageous, unsung officers - a great leader, who always put his men first. "The Liberator" is a compelling, cinematic story of the highest order." - Patrick K. O'Donnell, combat historian and author of "Dog Company" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Told for the very first time, The Liberator is the remarkable true story of one soldier's extraordinary journey to World War II victory, from the invasion of Italy to the liberation of Dachau. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Read 19 Nov 2012
By John Kimble VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Alex Kershaw's gripping new book 'The Liberator' begins with the visit to the graves and battle grounds of his fallen friends and soldiers. It's a wrenching visit, tinged with sadness and tears and a wave of regret.

Sparks' journey begins on the beaches of Sicily and continues north through Europe. Though successful the fighting is fierce and bloody.

Sparks goes through a range of emotions and experiences and displays valour and coldness that many today would find difficult to understand. For example as the allies advance north, Sparks is wounded, but discharges himself from hospital to get back to his men. Shortly after, as a company commander, he experiences the first of many soul-shattering heartbreaks: After denying his medic permission to give aid to a wounded German captain lying close to their foxhole, he watches helplessly as his medic defies him only to get cut down by a German machine gun.

Miraculously, despite many brushes with death, Sparks survived the long deadly march across Europe and in the last days of the war was selected to lead a final charge to hunt down Hitler. But what Sparks and his men would find as they finally reached the gates of Dachau, would be a horror greater than any they could have imagined. With victory within his grasp, Sparks had to confront the ultimate test of his humanity: after all he had been through, could he prevent himself from exacting vengeance on those who had caused such unspeakable suffering and misery?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring 19 April 2013
By DavyA TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Told for the very first time, The Liberator is the remarkable true story of one soldier's extraordinary journey to World War II victory, from the invasion of Italy to the liberation of Dachau.
This is a compelling tale of Felix Sparks a captain who shows great leadership and impressive resilience and strength. It is a really well told story of courage and I was left feeling a great deal of respect for the main character. The descriptions are vivid and upsetting but it all makes for an inspiring read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 17 April 2013
By T. Walker VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
One of the best war books I have read. It follows the life and experiences of Felix Sparks in the Second World War and afterwards in a very clear and readable way revealing his aims, expectations and at all times, frustrations. His honesty and integrity is evident from beginning to end. Once started, it is a book which is very difficult to put down. No details are spared of the good times and the bad times. The closeness to the men under his command and his personal feelings for them shines through showing him to be a natural and much respected leader. This book gives you a different insight to others about the Second World War and for this alone is a "must read".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Petra "I love to read" TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Liberator by Alex Kershaw for me was an excellent book which showed a very personal tribute to one man who was at college training to be a lawyer when told he had to report back to the army for duty as Hitler had declared war on America. Felix Spark had his life mapped out he had made plans to marry his childhood but war had reached American when the Japanese had bombed Pearl harbour he knew his life was going to change in a way he could never imagine. Also included was his background story on how he really came from nothing and through hard work and determination he became a leader of men who was respected by all those who served beneath him and it was easy to understand why he was respected while others who were above him in rank were condemned for their judgements on those beneath them in rank alone. Sparks was also an excellent judge in character and no matter who or what a man was whether in colour or creed he was proud to serve beside them which made him a character who I could do nothing but have admiration and respect for.
What this book for me was a look at how those in authorities lead either from a desk giving orders or as Felix Sparks he led from the front as far as he could. Yes there was a time he was tied to the desk but he showed his men so many times he was with them when he led him men across the beaches of Europe knowing a life of a Commander was a short one but he had faith and trust in what he was doing there so many miles away from home.
The main reason I enjoyed this book so much was first of all the author showed how the war still traumatised Felix Sparks so many years later, the sight of the tidy rows of graves when he visited like so many men long after the war was won still brought so many vivid and everlasting memories back to him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sicily, Italy, France, Dachau 22 Mar 2013
By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Stories of war focus on battles, heroes, leaders and common warriors. "The Liberator" does all of these. At the center of this story is Felix Sparks who joined the army, was commissioned and served his war with the 45th "Thunderbird" Division throughout the landings in Sicily, the drive up Italy, Operation Anvil's assault on Southern France, the liberation of Dachau concentration camp, war's end and return home to a successful life in Colorado.

The early parts of the book contain much about the big story, the grand strategy, the generals and the tide of battle. With the crossing into France the emphasis seems to shift to Sparks and his men. On these pages we follow them across Europe through combat, the devastation of death, the horror of the "Final Solution", charges of war crimes and the struggle to get back home and on with their lives. One thing I found to be particularly interesting about this saga is the involvement in Operation Anvil and the Thunderbird's march across France from the South. A student of World War II will find many books that cover the Mediterranean theatre or the assault beginning in Normandy on D-Day, but this is the first that I recall that documented the attack on Southern France.

I found the tales derived from interviews of the participants to be fascinating. For anyone who knew a veteran this book provides some insight into what they must have experienced and the challenges that they faced upon their return home. Author Alex Kershaw has crafted a work that holds the eyes to the page while never letting the book drift into the doldrums that bore or details that drive the reader away. It is a valuable addition to the World War II canon.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither fish nor fowl
Something about this book made for a disappointing reading experience: though it is in diary format, the style of the text gives little sense of direct personal experience despite... Read more
Published 15 months ago by S. J. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound and powerful testament.
This is the compelling true story of an infantry soldier's life in the European theatre of operations during the second world war. Read more
Published 16 months ago by M. D Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Band of different brothers
This is a very good book. Well researched with interviews with surviving members of the infantry unit involved. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
We follow American infantry officer Felix Sparks from Sicily, to Anzio, Southern France and then into the Reich itself, with hard fighting and some staggering casualty figures. Read more
Published 16 months ago by George Rodger
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and emotion-rich read of one remarkable man's key role in...
First published back in October of 2012, British WWII novelist Alex Kershaw's book 'The Liberator' followed on from seven previous books on similar true-life stories from... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Chris Hall
2.0 out of 5 stars Journalistic History
I just didn't get into this. I think that I have grown bored of the journalistic approach. Though it was recounting extraordinary actions and scenes it just all seemed flat and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by The Emperor
5.0 out of 5 stars almost unbelievable what one man can survive
This is an inspiring, almost unbelievable, story about a US solider whose unit traversed the Italian, French and German countryside. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Su
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
This book is the war story of Felix Sparks, who died in 2007, and who swept through Europe sweeping out the Nazis from 1943 onwards. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr. D. J. Brindle
5.0 out of 5 stars The bittersweet taste of liberation
Alex Kershaw's account of one man's journey throughout the WWII-torn Europe is at times uplifting, at times gut-wrenching and at times simply unbelievable - but if you wish to find... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Barto
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange mix of biography, war diary and history book - but it...
Felix Sparks was, without doubt, at the very front line in many of the key theatres of World War II. Read more
Published 17 months ago by A. Chell
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