They were called Easy Company—but their mission was never easy. Immortalized as the Band of Brothers, they suffered 150% casualties while liberating Europe—an unparalleled record of bravery under fire. Dick Winters was their commander—"the best combat leader in World War II" to his men. This is his story—told in his own words for the first time.
On D-Day, Dick Winters parachuted into France and assumed leadership of the Band of Brothers when their commander was killed. He led them through the Battle of the Bulge and into Germany, by which time each member had been wounded. They liberated an S.S. death camp from the horrors of the Holocaust and captured Berchtesgaden, Hitler's alpine retreat. After briefly serving during the Korean War, Winters was a highly successful businessman. Made famous by Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers—and the subsequent award-winning HBO miniseries—he is the object of worldwide adulation.
Beyond Band of Brothers is Winters's memoir—based on his wartime diary—but it also includes his comrades' untold stories. Virtually all this material is being released for the first time. Only Winters was present from the activation of Easy Company until the war's end. Winner of the Distinguished Service Cross, only he could pen this moving tribute to the human spirit.
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Major Dick Winters was born near Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1918. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in 1941, he was one of the initial officers assigned to Easy Company of the 101st Airborne. Winters jumped into France on D-Day and commanded the unit now known as the Band of Brothers. Promoted to Captain and then battalion commander, he led his men through the Battle of the Bulge and captured Berchtesgaden, Hitler's Bavarian retreat. Released from military service in November 1945, he returned briefly to active duty during the Korean War, then spent his life on a small Pennsylvania farm and was a highly successful businessman. Now eighty-six years old, Winters is popular on the lecture circuit and has found the peace and quiet he promised himself as he lay down to catch some sleep on June 6, 1944—D-Day.
Cole C. Kingseed is a thirty-year Army veteran who served in a variety of command and staff positions. He earned his M.A. in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and his Ph.D. in history from Ohio State. He taught at West Point, where he served as chief of military history for four years. Kingseed is the author of thirty-seven articles on corporate and military leadership and such books as Eisenhower and the Suez Crisis of 1956 and Old Glory Stories: Combat Leadership in World War II. He is president of his own leadership consulting firm, The Brecourt Leadership Experience, Inc., whose clients, to name a few, include General Electric, FreddieMac, International Paper, and Bayer Corporation.
In his well-intentioned but impersonal memoirs, Winters tells the tales left untold by Stephen Ambrose, whose Band of Brothers was the inspiration for the HBO miniseries, but Winters's memoir is disappointingly sparse on details unrelated to troop position. It is in the battles and tactical maneuvers of Easy Company that Winters is most at home: on D-Day, when Easy Company's commanding officer is killed, Winters takes charge minutes after landing deep in German territory and leads an assault against a German battery. He carefully explicates the reasoning behind his strategy, leading the reader along as the Company attacks German machine gun and mortar outposts. The narrative is laced with Winters's soldierly exaltations of pride in his comrades' bravery: "My God, it's beautiful when you think of a guy who was so dedicated to his company that he apologizes for getting hit." Although the intrepidness of the group induces more than a tinge of pride, the memoir is devoid of powerful reflections. In the last, sluggish chapters, Winters devotes an excessive amount of time to letters he has received and to expositions on leadership. Winters is too humble for a genre that requires a little bit of conceit.
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