Fighting in the Great Crusade combines the terse clarity of George E. Schwend's World War II combat journals with Gregory Daddis's expert commentary on the greater context of that conflict. The result is the rare military work that counterpoints historical and strategic analysis against a foxhole-level view of the war in Europe as U.S. soldiers experienced it.
Schwend's story, which typifies that of young American "citizen soldiers" on whom the Allied cause depended, follows a draftee through the rigors of basic training and Officer Candidate School and into the grim theater of the European campaigns in 1944 and 1945. The young lieutenant's diligent entries initially record quotidian particulars of meals, training, and letters home. The accretion of detail forms a grittily realistic day-to-day account of military life. Later, Daddis provides an expansive historical backdrop that invests with poignance even such routines as Schwend's faithful attendance at movie screenings as the soldier—and readers—anticipate the fateful Normandy invasion.
Schwend observes that despite the rigors of his training nothing could have prepared him or his comrades for the savagery of the actions in which they fought: the Normandy Campaign, the harrowing Heurtgen Forest, the Roer and Rhine River crossings, and the final battles in the Ruhr Pocket. The cauldron of war distills for Daddis the motivations behind why soldiers fight—not, he argues, because they follow exhortations of leaders like Eisenhower, but to protect their peers and to survive, as Schwend did, to write simply, finally: "Home at last."
The first history of the 8th Infantry Division written since 1945, this is the only complete chronicle of the life of an artillery officer serving with the U.S. Army during World War II. Impeccably researched and edited, Fighting in the Great Crusade will prove an invaluable contribution to the complete war record.
Found an Error? Tell us about it.