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As I hit the Submit Review button it appears mine is the first for the Audible format of “I Will Hold”. Based on the sample it’s no wonder why, but I like a challenge so after reading three reviews for the printed format I decided to get the book despite the sample. I was interested in Clifton B. Cates, someone I had never heard of before this book. However, what I really wanted to learn about was the full account of how ferociously the Marines fought at Belleau Wood and how they so terrified the Germans that they earned the nickname ‘Devil Dogs’.
After holding on for 19 of 32 chapters, with just over 3-hours left, I’ve decided to throw in the towel. Initially I thought my brain was simply not engaged while listening, but after making several conscious efforts to pay particular attention I realized it wasn’t me. The problem with this book is the writing and the narration; together they make this book mind-numbingly boring and completely impossible to follow. The narration itself is not ‘bad’, it’s just lifeless. This, in my opinion, is more related to the writing then the narrator. The writing jumps around so much that there's no common thread to the story so I was totally lost the entire time.
This is a collection of very loosely or barely connected events within a larger event. I can’t even say it’s a collection of short stories because there’s not enough information given for each event to actually call any of them a ‘story’. It’s as though the author grabbed a bunch of Post-It notes with scribbled thoughts on each and put them together in no particular order to create a book. Furthermore, the title is misleading. This is not told from Belleau Wood to victory. The book starts before the U.S. involvement in the war and it plods on for 18 chapters before finally getting to some sort of a point about the woods, but even then it jumps around so much that I’m not sure what battle or action is actually being described at any given moment. I’ve stayed with it long enough to reach the point where Cates sent the message “I will hold”, but the telling was so anti-climactic I nearly missed it. Lastly, at more than halfway through the book there’s still been no mention of the Devil Dogs nickname. Or, if it was mentioned, I was so catatonic from boredom I missed it.
From the reviews it appears to be a decent book in print format, but it’s definitely not decent in audio format. I gave this book more of a chance then I normally would simply out of respect for the subject matter, but I’m ending it now feeling very disappointed.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Reads like an official history and is short on character development. It has a basic recipe: “group X goes into a battle with group Y on the left and Z on the right; there were lots of machine guns opposing them. They started with X men and only had Y remaining. Lucky Cliff Cates survived” Repeat...
Nothing like Stephen Ambrose or E. B. Sledge.