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Whatever It Took: An American Paratrooper's Extraordinary Memoir of Escape, Survival, and Heroism in the Last Days of World War II

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PUBLISHED TO MARK THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF VE DAY, AN UNFORGETTABLE NEVER-BEFORE-TOLD FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF WORLD WAR II: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PARATROOPER WHO SURVIVED D-DAY, WAS CAPTURED AND IMPRISONED IN A NAZI WORK CAMP, AND MADE A DARING ESCAPE TO FREEDOM. Now at 95, one of the few living members of the Greatest Generation shares his experiences at last in one PUBLISHED TO MARK THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF VE DAY, AN UNFORGETTABLE NEVER-BEFORE-TOLD FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF WORLD WAR II: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PARATROOPER WHO SURVIVED D-DAY, WAS CAPTURED AND IMPRISONED IN A NAZI WORK CAMP, AND MADE A DARING ESCAPE TO FREEDOM. Now at 95, one of the few living members of the Greatest Generation shares his experiences at last in one of the most remarkable World War II stories ever told. As the Allied Invasion of Normandy launched in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, Henry Langrehr, an American paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, was among the thousands of Allies who parachuted into occupied France. Surviving heavy anti-aircraft fire, he crashed through the glass roof of a greenhouse in Sainte-Mère-Église. While many of the soldiers in his unit died, Henry and other surviving troops valiantly battled enemy tanks to a standstill. Then, on June 29, Henry was captured by the Nazis. The next phase of his incredible journey was beginning. Kept for a week in the outer ring of a death camp, Henry witnessed the Nazis' unspeakable brutality - the so-called Final Solution, with people marched to their deaths, their bodies discarded like cords of wood. Transported to a work camp, he endure horrors of his own when he was forced to live in unbelievable squalor and labor in a coal mine with other POWs. Knowing they would be worked to death, he and friend mad a desperate escape. When a German soldier cornered them in a barn, the friend was fatally shot; Henry struggled with the soldier, killing him and taking his gun. Perilously traveling westward toward Allied controlled land on foot, Henry faced the great ethical and moral dilemmas of war firsthand, needing to do whatever it took to survive. Finally, after two weeks behind enemy lines, he found an American unit and was rescued. Awaiting him at home was Arlene, who, like millions of other American women, went to work in factories and offices to build armaments Henry and the Allies needed for victory. 'WHATEVER IT TOOK' is her story, too, bringing to life the hopes and fears of those on the homefront awaiting their loved ones to return. A tale of heroism, hope, and survival featuring 30 photographs, 'WHAT EVER IT TOOK' is a timely reminder of the human cost of freedom and a tribute to the unbreakable human courage and spirit in the darkest of times. HARDCOVER AND KINDLE ⇒ 288pps. PAPERBACK ⇒ 384pps. AUDIBLE RUNNING TIME ⇒ 6hrs. and 28mins. (Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook and will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.) ©2020 henry Langrehr and Jim DeFelice (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers


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PUBLISHED TO MARK THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF VE DAY, AN UNFORGETTABLE NEVER-BEFORE-TOLD FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF WORLD WAR II: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PARATROOPER WHO SURVIVED D-DAY, WAS CAPTURED AND IMPRISONED IN A NAZI WORK CAMP, AND MADE A DARING ESCAPE TO FREEDOM. Now at 95, one of the few living members of the Greatest Generation shares his experiences at last in one PUBLISHED TO MARK THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF VE DAY, AN UNFORGETTABLE NEVER-BEFORE-TOLD FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF WORLD WAR II: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PARATROOPER WHO SURVIVED D-DAY, WAS CAPTURED AND IMPRISONED IN A NAZI WORK CAMP, AND MADE A DARING ESCAPE TO FREEDOM. Now at 95, one of the few living members of the Greatest Generation shares his experiences at last in one of the most remarkable World War II stories ever told. As the Allied Invasion of Normandy launched in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, Henry Langrehr, an American paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, was among the thousands of Allies who parachuted into occupied France. Surviving heavy anti-aircraft fire, he crashed through the glass roof of a greenhouse in Sainte-Mère-Église. While many of the soldiers in his unit died, Henry and other surviving troops valiantly battled enemy tanks to a standstill. Then, on June 29, Henry was captured by the Nazis. The next phase of his incredible journey was beginning. Kept for a week in the outer ring of a death camp, Henry witnessed the Nazis' unspeakable brutality - the so-called Final Solution, with people marched to their deaths, their bodies discarded like cords of wood. Transported to a work camp, he endure horrors of his own when he was forced to live in unbelievable squalor and labor in a coal mine with other POWs. Knowing they would be worked to death, he and friend mad a desperate escape. When a German soldier cornered them in a barn, the friend was fatally shot; Henry struggled with the soldier, killing him and taking his gun. Perilously traveling westward toward Allied controlled land on foot, Henry faced the great ethical and moral dilemmas of war firsthand, needing to do whatever it took to survive. Finally, after two weeks behind enemy lines, he found an American unit and was rescued. Awaiting him at home was Arlene, who, like millions of other American women, went to work in factories and offices to build armaments Henry and the Allies needed for victory. 'WHATEVER IT TOOK' is her story, too, bringing to life the hopes and fears of those on the homefront awaiting their loved ones to return. A tale of heroism, hope, and survival featuring 30 photographs, 'WHAT EVER IT TOOK' is a timely reminder of the human cost of freedom and a tribute to the unbreakable human courage and spirit in the darkest of times. HARDCOVER AND KINDLE ⇒ 288pps. PAPERBACK ⇒ 384pps. AUDIBLE RUNNING TIME ⇒ 6hrs. and 28mins. (Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook and will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.) ©2020 henry Langrehr and Jim DeFelice (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

30 review for Whatever It Took: An American Paratrooper's Extraordinary Memoir of Escape, Survival, and Heroism in the Last Days of World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book was amazing, because it was about an ordinary man who was placed in historic circumstances and did many things of which he is not proud in order to survive, along with a big heaping amount of dumb luck. This is an honest, up-front book about this man's life, starting with his experiences in the Great Depression, which he contends prepared the country for the worse hardships to come, through his training as a paratrooper and his jumping into D-Day and what followed, including capture, hi This book was amazing, because it was about an ordinary man who was placed in historic circumstances and did many things of which he is not proud in order to survive, along with a big heaping amount of dumb luck. This is an honest, up-front book about this man's life, starting with his experiences in the Great Depression, which he contends prepared the country for the worse hardships to come, through his training as a paratrooper and his jumping into D-Day and what followed, including capture, his being taken to a concentration camp and slave labor in the mines and his escape. He is 100% up-front that his survival wasn't glorious. It was literally him or the enemy, other human beings, at many different times and he chose himself each time, which means the enemy didn't get to survive. He isn't proud of what he did. He realizes that if it wasn't for the war, what he did would have been murder, but because there was the war and it was his life or theirs, he chose his life. But that doesn't make the shame and horror of what he did go away. In order to kill to survive, he had to be angry, he had to be full of hate, full of fear. He's not proud of that. My heart broke for him and what he had to do, what he had to go through, just to get home. This book isn't graphic, thank goodness, but the violent truth is underlying the whole story. Also weaving throughout the whole book is, could I do what I needed to do to survive? What is the cost of survival? All I have to say is I hope that I and the rest of the world, never have to make that decision, at least, not in the way he had to make it. My heart goes out to him and all the brave and scared men and women who have fought and continue to fight, to keep us free. (This could also be applied to what is happening in the world now. I pray that we are all strong enough to do what we need to survive and to help and not hurt others. We can be afraid, but we can't let it rule us. We are all better than that.) This book tells is a story that NEEDS to be told. It is so powerful, so impactful, that I would not hesitate to suggest it as high school or college reading. He was 19 when he went to join the war. At the time, he wasn't old enough to vote or to get married, but he was old enough to die for his country and for freedom for the entire world. This might not be a bad book for 18-19 year olds to read. There but for the grace of God... Stunning, sobering, incredibly important book. 5, I want to meet this man and tell him how thankful I am for his bravery in sharing his story, stars. God bless him, his family and those he fought with. What they did should never be forgotten. We can't let history repeat itself. We just can't. My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers-William Morrow for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    This book is somewhat extraordinary in that it is the most restrained book about a man's desire to be free from slavery in a prisoner of war camp. It is not particularly surprising that an elderly man in Iowa from a restrained German-American family would find it difficult to open up about his war experiences. And it appears as if there is a great deal of tension between the author's quiet dignity and obvious discomfort in writing about his own insecurities as well as his own struggles with fait This book is somewhat extraordinary in that it is the most restrained book about a man's desire to be free from slavery in a prisoner of war camp. It is not particularly surprising that an elderly man in Iowa from a restrained German-American family would find it difficult to open up about his war experiences. And it appears as if there is a great deal of tension between the author's quiet dignity and obvious discomfort in writing about his own insecurities as well as his own struggles with faith and his own dark memories about the traumas of imprisonment, slavery, and doing whatever it took to escape to freedom in the waning days of World War II, which are described in an unsentimental manner, the co-author's insistence that there are no good wars, only necessary ones, a sentiment I happen to endorse, and the efforts of the publisher of this book to profit by pointing to the author's heroism. If this is a book about heroism, it is also a book about the horrors of war and how long they linger in the memory of those who suffer from them, making even the elderly inhabitants of small Iowa communities unable to escape such matters. This book is a bit more than 200 pages long and it begins with a map and then a prologue that shows VE day, with the author safe at home and recovering from the horrors of his World War II experience. After that the author talks about his family background (1), his training as a paratrooper (2), and his experiences in June 1944 as he prepared for D-Day (3). After that the author shares his experience in the drop zone (4), his fighting in the hedgerows of northern France (5), and it is only on page 135, about 2/3 of the way through the book, that he discusses how he was taken prisoner by the Germans (6). After this the author discusses his story in shorter chapters that are restrained despite the horrific content of what is in the chapters, including a discussion of his work in mines as slave labor (7), a summary of the war that was going on outside of the fence (8) and the opportunity that he seized to escape from the labor camp (9). After this comes a look at what had to be done for the author to survive (10), which included going west in the night to avoid people and finding food and water and weapons by killing unprepared home guard soldiers and even escaping with German soldiers feeling towards the Americans. After that he discusses his trip home (11) and marriage, as well as the rewards of survival (12) and his experiences going back to Europe as a hero (13). The book ends with a post-script from the co-author, appendices which are of interest, notes, acknowledgements, and photo insert credits. One of the key elements of this book being co-written is that it is written in a spare style that emphasizes the author's own insistence of telling his story in spare and unadorned way, and the presence of the co-writer simply makes his approach to put what the author is willing to tell into a coherent and well-written narrative. The narrative has some gaps, as the author simply does not remember everything about where he was or the motivations of others. What shines through in particular, and most poignantly, is the way that the author still appears to be haunted by his doing whatever it took to be free, including risking being shot by Germans and risking the damage to his own spirit that resulted from his killing others stealing their food in order to survive as he made his way to the West. It is not surprising, alas, that the author was not judged as having any worthwhile intelligence, but it scarcely mattered, as he achieved what he set out to do in making it home. On the other hand, though, this book makes it appear as if the author was never entirely at home with himself given what he suffered and endured at the hands of the Germans and thanks to his own deeds.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Schuyler Wallace

    I tip my cap in respect, for a number of reasons, to Henry Langrehr, author of “Whatever It Took,” a thrilling memoir he wrote at ninety-five years old. First, for his service in a military career specialty noted for its low survival rate and rugged existence. Second, for his clearly written account that is both thrilling, and mesmerizing, and, finally, for his fortitude at the grueling chore of writing any book at his advanced age. I know because I did it at 6o years old, and nearly ruined my h I tip my cap in respect, for a number of reasons, to Henry Langrehr, author of “Whatever It Took,” a thrilling memoir he wrote at ninety-five years old. First, for his service in a military career specialty noted for its low survival rate and rugged existence. Second, for his clearly written account that is both thrilling, and mesmerizing, and, finally, for his fortitude at the grueling chore of writing any book at his advanced age. I know because I did it at 6o years old, and nearly ruined my health. Ten or eleven hours a day, seven days a week in front of a computer screen takes its toll on your back and butt, so much so that you never quite recover your old stride. As an ex-paratrooper, he must have had a truly wonderful stride at one time. They all did. Langrehr served in Europe during World War II in the 82nd Airborne Division. He is the recipient of numerous service awards, including two bronze stars, two Purple Hearts, and the French Legion of Honor. Quite impressive recognition, but nothing compared to his actual participation, his imprisonment, his escape and eventual return to his Allied brethren. He tells it all, bringing the reader along with him every step of the way. His recall is amazing, his storytelling is captivating, and the interest he creates is amazing. I find it interesting that for most of his life he was either reluctant or extremely reticent about repeating his experiences, but it seems, once he started, he was relentless in his intent to tell it all. Whatever it took. After his capture, the author was not only forced to live in squalor and horrendous conditions in a coal mining work camp with other POWS, he was witness to unspeakable cruelty where people were marched to their death, bodies stacked like cordwood. But his determination to survive, to somehow get home to his beloved wife, led him on an improbable elusive journey, where he was forced to commit his own cruel murderous acts to survive. He did so with much regret and remorse, always struggling to regain his sense of morality and righteousness in his later life. As a World War II history addict, I found this book to be at the top of my enjoyment list. I heartily recommend you give it a try, and picture, as you read, a dogged 95-year old laboring away with thoughts that may have been somewhat difficult for him to put to words, but he got it done using whatever it took.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Bayles

    This is good for people who want to know about WW2 planes, strategies, and different infantries. I thought it would have more about his experience as a POW etc. I’m grateful for his service to our country but I had to force myself to finish this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jon Koebrick

    This is a really great story. The author’s candid opinions on killing in war and his memory fading at 95 were refreshing elements. Highly recommended reading. 4.5 stars. I work with a nephew of the author and am thankful to have learned about this book from him. I heard the story of his uncle in a much abbreviated form before the book was finished.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Baker

    Amazing memoir about an ordinary 19 year old paratrooper in WWII. Henry Langrehr’s story of survival is an incredible tale of survival told in a Mayer of fact way-no bragging or declarations of heroism-although he is certainly entitled to do so.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Barnes

    Quite a story told by a 95 year old veteran

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shane W

    This reminds me of a story the way my grandfather would tell it. Good read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Good personal description of the Normandy invasion, breakout, Battle of the Bulge, POW camp, escape and rescue by Patton’s army.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I got an advance copy of this book, I can honestly say it was an enjoyable and interesting book. The author, Henry Langrehr served in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and was one of the paratroopers who dropped behind enemy lines in Sainte-Mere-Eglise during the beginning stage of the D-day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. On June 29, He was captured by the Nazis. He was transported first to a concentration camp, then to a labor camp where he faced brutal treatment. I thoroughly I got an advance copy of this book, I can honestly say it was an enjoyable and interesting book. The author, Henry Langrehr served in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and was one of the paratroopers who dropped behind enemy lines in Sainte-Mere-Eglise during the beginning stage of the D-day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. On June 29, He was captured by the Nazis. He was transported first to a concentration camp, then to a labor camp where he faced brutal treatment. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and admire the courage of the author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Merlene Neville

    The book, whatever it took, is especially meaningful to me as I had a cousin who was a paratrooper and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, I read whatever I can to better understand what he went through during WWII. He stayed with us for awhile after the war but never talked about it. I found that this book seemed to show the hardships the soldiers went through but also the determination to reach their objectives. I also now have a clearer idea of what a hedgerow is, A great book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book tells the first hand account of a paratrooper on D-Day. What I loved about this book is Henry’s honesty and true feelings now and during his time at war. He is a true hero and I’m grateful that he decided to share his story. I felt the book was an easy read and I finished in less than a week. I would recommend this book for those who would like to hear a soldier’s own words.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Cole

    War This was one of the most sincere books about WW 2 that I have read. The author was so open and honest about his emotions. I could feel his fear and pain as he recalled the war. It was so wonderful that he enjoyed a happy life after the war with his family.

  14. 5 out of 5

    William Troy

    This book reminds me of the title of Victor David Hanson's book, The Second World Wars. Truly the experience of Henry Langrehr was a different war from what other soldiers experienced. He was ninety-five years old when he wrote this book with the assistance of Jim DeFelice. He admits that there are a lot of blanks in his memory but one cannot forget the essentials of his war. He trained as a paratrooper and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He trained as an engineer but his main functi This book reminds me of the title of Victor David Hanson's book, The Second World Wars. Truly the experience of Henry Langrehr was a different war from what other soldiers experienced. He was ninety-five years old when he wrote this book with the assistance of Jim DeFelice. He admits that there are a lot of blanks in his memory but one cannot forget the essentials of his war. He trained as a paratrooper and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He trained as an engineer but his main function was as an explosive expert an blow things up. He jumped into Normandy near Sainte-Mer-Eglise. His mission was to get to the Chef-du-Pont bridge and blow it up if the Germans were counterattacking and intended to use the bridge. On landing he got out of the town where he had broken through the glass and landed in a greenhouse. He headed to the bridge with other soldiers but was told the bridge was captured so he proceeded to essentially be an infantry soldier and continued moving with the group he was with. He fought through the hedgerows until 29 July when he was wounded and captured. His wounds were treated by German surgeons and he healed. He was sent to a POW camp he thinks was in Poland. It was in an industrial complex and he was sent to work in the coal mines. He and an American friend named Tim escaped when returning at night from the mine to the camp. He thinks it was late March or early April. They came across a small town and got too close and were seen. His friend was killed by a guard but Henry killed the guard and took his pistol. He still has that pistol. He had to hide and scrounge his way towards Allied Lines. Along the way he had some encounters with Volksstrurm home guard soldiers. He finally ran into American soldiers of the Third Army and was repatriated to France and then back to the States. He was at home when VE day occurred. It is an interesting read and not the common soldier story from WWII.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian Prosser

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’ve read many books of men in combat, but this one feels unique. The storyteller is a 95 year old man, Henry, who is remembering his time during WWII when he served as an engineer with the 505th PIR, 82 ABN and jumped into France on D-day. I didn’t think I’d like this book after the first couple of chapters; the prose was a bit too folksy and halting (think of sitting on the porch listening to you grandpap tell a story). But as I read more, I was thankful that his coauthor wrote the book in muc I’ve read many books of men in combat, but this one feels unique. The storyteller is a 95 year old man, Henry, who is remembering his time during WWII when he served as an engineer with the 505th PIR, 82 ABN and jumped into France on D-day. I didn’t think I’d like this book after the first couple of chapters; the prose was a bit too folksy and halting (think of sitting on the porch listening to you grandpap tell a story). But as I read more, I was thankful that his coauthor wrote the book in much the style I can imagine Henry telling it. Henry saw combat, was captured by the Germans and became a POW. One of his camps was beside a death camp; another he toiled in the shafts of a coal mine. A wonderful aspect of his story is that he doesn’t attempt to impress his reader of the knowledge of the strategy and tactics of the war. As a private, he just went where he was told, did what he needed to do to survive that day, and make it until the next. Henry escapes the POW camp and tries to get back to friendly lines. Here is the strongest portion of his story. As I read of the things he did in order to make it safely to friendly lines, I could feel the pain of his memories. He admits to becoming a savage - doing what he needed to in order to survive. And although I believe he’d do the same things again to survive, his shame in those actions (and those things he admits to leaving out of his story because they’re still too painful) is evident. I finished this book about 10 days ago and I’ve thought about Henry and his story every day since. For his willingness to share his story, his actions and his shame - and because this book has lingered for me - 5 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Char (1RadReader59)

    My wife was able to receive this book from Netgalley for an honest review. Knowing that my father had served with the 82nd during WWII she knew I would be very interested in this story. Though my father was never captured. This man’s story at the beginning was much like my father’s and so many others. His description of the training and what was expected of each soldier was also what I had heard from my father, as well as the reason they were so successful was one General Gavin was there with th My wife was able to receive this book from Netgalley for an honest review. Knowing that my father had served with the 82nd during WWII she knew I would be very interested in this story. Though my father was never captured. This man’s story at the beginning was much like my father’s and so many others. His description of the training and what was expected of each soldier was also what I had heard from my father, as well as the reason they were so successful was one General Gavin was there with the troops in the mud or the river at Market Garden. Also, each officer was expected to do the same. This author’s story of being a POW and then finally escaping and his ordeal not to be captured added to this story and really made for a different read. He finally making it the American lines to be treated for his wounds and then back to the U.S. was equally powerful. Like some from that generation, the love of two people stayed until they were reunited and finding that his love Arlene was there still wanting for him and the two married just added to this story. I was glad he added the part of what the 82 and other troops did during the Battle of the Bulge, for many think just the 101st and Patton’s tanks were the only ones that fought. I found this to be a wonderful story and truly a lost generation. Received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

  17. 5 out of 5

    skip thurnauer

    Henry Langrehr is a 90+ year old survivor of the WWII Normandy invasion. He was still in high school when war broke out in Europe. Henry enlists as soon as he is able to and becomes a paratrooper with the 82 Airborn. He recounts basic training and his love of jumping out of planes, even though he had never been in one before his Army enlistment. D-Day finds Henry parachuting into France amid heavy German anti-aircraft fire. He survives a crash into a greenhouse and helps take an enemy position, Henry Langrehr is a 90+ year old survivor of the WWII Normandy invasion. He was still in high school when war broke out in Europe. Henry enlists as soon as he is able to and becomes a paratrooper with the 82 Airborn. He recounts basic training and his love of jumping out of planes, even though he had never been in one before his Army enlistment. D-Day finds Henry parachuting into France amid heavy German anti-aircraft fire. He survives a crash into a greenhouse and helps take an enemy position, engaging in hand-to-hand combat and killing his first enemy soldiers. Three weeks after parachuting into France he is wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans. Henry recovers from his wounds and is sent to a prison work camp. En route, his prison train stops at a Nazi concentration camp where he sees bodies stacked up like firewood. In the prisoner-of war camp he is assigned to a coal mining detail. He miraculously escapes and does whatever it takes to make his way back to Allied troops. This is an inspiring story of a simple soldier told in very plain language. He recieved 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts, and the french Legion of Honor awards for his service.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Burkhart

    Langrehr and DeFelice pen a gut-wrenching book about World War II. It's a poignant story about the sacrifices of war. The book is an account of author Henry Langrehr's time as an Army Paratrooper in World War II. Henry is coming of age as the war starts and volunteers for the Army. Readers will understand where Henry is coming from as he is a young man when he volunteers and has all the idealism that youth have. He signs up to be a paratrooper and receives training as a combat engineer. Henry is Langrehr and DeFelice pen a gut-wrenching book about World War II. It's a poignant story about the sacrifices of war. The book is an account of author Henry Langrehr's time as an Army Paratrooper in World War II. Henry is coming of age as the war starts and volunteers for the Army. Readers will understand where Henry is coming from as he is a young man when he volunteers and has all the idealism that youth have. He signs up to be a paratrooper and receives training as a combat engineer. Henry is proud to serve his country, but is tested when D-Day arrives and he jumps into France. From there, Henry sees combat and what he experiences will change his outlook on life. The book is full of heartwarming anecdotes on what it was like growing up in the 1930-40's. Henry shares stories about his family and what it was like in Clinton, Iowa. The book is easy to read and understand. I didn't want to put the book down. Henry's story will resonate with readers long after they are done reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Simran K

    Heartbreaking and eye-opening look on the short and long-term effects war has on humankind. The last chapter where Henry reflected on everything really made me stop and truly think. Would we be able to make the sacrifices they made back then, today? Upon reflection, I concluded that no we could not. The younger generations are used to instant gratification and instant knowledge; patience doesn't exist as widely as it did. Take for example the current situation, the war against virus we are facin Heartbreaking and eye-opening look on the short and long-term effects war has on humankind. The last chapter where Henry reflected on everything really made me stop and truly think. Would we be able to make the sacrifices they made back then, today? Upon reflection, I concluded that no we could not. The younger generations are used to instant gratification and instant knowledge; patience doesn't exist as widely as it did. Take for example the current situation, the war against virus we are facing, aka the pandemic. Most of this country does not want to make the necessary sacrifices and that is why we are losing this battle. Overall loved this book and to hear Henry's story. WWII has always fascinated me because there were so many different angles it can be explained from (someone imprisoned at the concentration camps, a solider from the USA/British/Russian forces, someone part of the resistance, POWs, those at home, etc).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Keith Hall

    The fact that this person came home and without psychological assistance was able to put together a life at home, I am in awe. My father went through some tough situations in the Pacific during WWII, we never talked about it either, but I know now he suffered from PTSD. It was not an every day thing but something he endured throughout his short life, he died at the age of 66. This gentleman, wow, saw and did it all, survived, came home lived his life and wrote this story when he was 95. This wil The fact that this person came home and without psychological assistance was able to put together a life at home, I am in awe. My father went through some tough situations in the Pacific during WWII, we never talked about it either, but I know now he suffered from PTSD. It was not an every day thing but something he endured throughout his short life, he died at the age of 66. This gentleman, wow, saw and did it all, survived, came home lived his life and wrote this story when he was 95. This will stick with me, especially, knowing what little I know about my Father's experience. Two BIG HEROES, we are so lucky they were both here.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I think the most interesting thing that comes up again and again in this book is that the author waited to write this book until he was into his 90's. As such, he doesn't remember names and some specific details to share with the readers. He also admits that the "fog of battle" was responsible for some of that, so even if he had written it at a much earlier age, he would not have remembered or known those details. I applaud the author for discussing the uncomfortable aspects of war and survival. I think the most interesting thing that comes up again and again in this book is that the author waited to write this book until he was into his 90's. As such, he doesn't remember names and some specific details to share with the readers. He also admits that the "fog of battle" was responsible for some of that, so even if he had written it at a much earlier age, he would not have remembered or known those details. I applaud the author for discussing the uncomfortable aspects of war and survival. This would be a good book for those who tend to glorify war in general or WWII in particular to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sheri S.

    Langrehr is a veteran of WWII and shares his story about his time in Europe in a very matter of fact way. A paratrooper, he lands in France for the Invasion of Normandy. He tells a remarkable story of overcoming great obstacles and perseverance in the face of immense challenges. He seems like a humble individual and doesn't consider himself a hero but someone who was just doing his job. I appreciate the courage it must have taken for him to tell his story and deal with emotions he had long hidde Langrehr is a veteran of WWII and shares his story about his time in Europe in a very matter of fact way. A paratrooper, he lands in France for the Invasion of Normandy. He tells a remarkable story of overcoming great obstacles and perseverance in the face of immense challenges. He seems like a humble individual and doesn't consider himself a hero but someone who was just doing his job. I appreciate the courage it must have taken for him to tell his story and deal with emotions he had long hidden away.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Mr. Langrehr tells his story of war and survival only as someone who loved through it could and Mr. DeFelice does an excellent job of translating this story onto the pages of this text. Stories such as these are leaving us at a rapid pace and it is sad that so many more will never be told, but I for one am thankful that this one was told. We owe more to men such as Mr. Langrehr than could ever be repaid and learning from his harrowing experience is well worth the time to read and relive history Mr. Langrehr tells his story of war and survival only as someone who loved through it could and Mr. DeFelice does an excellent job of translating this story onto the pages of this text. Stories such as these are leaving us at a rapid pace and it is sad that so many more will never be told, but I for one am thankful that this one was told. We owe more to men such as Mr. Langrehr than could ever be repaid and learning from his harrowing experience is well worth the time to read and relive history with him and his family.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Fitzgerald

    I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read encompassing what life was like both back home in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, Langrehr tells the story of the war as a whole while describing his journey across Europe. It is clear the pains and discomfort Langrehr feels while retelling his story, which in many cases reads as broad strokes of heroing acts. Nevertheless, the story is a great tale about an ordinary man who remarkably survived despite the horrors of war.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauralie

    A paratroopers memoir of the war and D-day. There are no good wars. It's always messy and brings out the worst parts of humanity. This author does not shy away from the emotional strain/psychological overwhelm that comes from having to kill your fellow man even in the the name of war. The author is humble, direct and does not sugar coat the struggle. I would recommend to anyone interested in WW2, D-day or the weight that many veterans carry with them. Enlightening and heartbreaking. A paratroopers memoir of the war and D-day. There are no good wars. It's always messy and brings out the worst parts of humanity. This author does not shy away from the emotional strain/psychological overwhelm that comes from having to kill your fellow man even in the the name of war. The author is humble, direct and does not sugar coat the struggle. I would recommend to anyone interested in WW2, D-day or the weight that many veterans carry with them. Enlightening and heartbreaking.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stan Kosick

    Very interesting but difficult to read. Definitely in his own words as if straight dictation. This made following along a challenge. Still the story is fantastic. Young man ripped from Iowa sent off to Europe to fight Nazis. The horrors witnessed and experienced wished upon no man. I am glad he lived to tell the tale.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christian Jaggie

    Very good read. There is a lot of supplemental information about the war as a whole that kind of bogs down his actual experiences. This information is interesting but doesn't always pertains to what he went to. However, when he gets to what he went through, it is heart breaking and devastating and i couldnt put it down. Very good read. There is a lot of supplemental information about the war as a whole that kind of bogs down his actual experiences. This information is interesting but doesn't always pertains to what he went to. However, when he gets to what he went through, it is heart breaking and devastating and i couldnt put it down.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dana Peloso

    Incredible and moving account of one man’s account of the war. It was great not because of the death and carnage that occurred, but it also had subtle ties to other stories from the Great War that I have been introduced to in the past as well. Loved this book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Randal Gritzner

    I have great respect for all veterans, especially veterans that entered during war. This book handled the horrors of war with great tact and feeling. It’s impossible to know if I could ever do what he did. I pray that I’ll never have to find out.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Farrell

    What a great book, well written and really lets you into the feeling that Henry must have had jumping into Normandy, showing incredible bravery and then, once captured, perseverance. People like him are why it is called "The Greatest Generation." What a great book, well written and really lets you into the feeling that Henry must have had jumping into Normandy, showing incredible bravery and then, once captured, perseverance. People like him are why it is called "The Greatest Generation."

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