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First time author, 150,000 British and American servicemen deserted in World War II, not something most of read/hear about when discussing this war. The author follows several soldiers through their military and WWII experiences outlining what lead up to their desertions. What you learn is that soldiers deserted for every reason there is, the full spectrum; some just decided they didn't want to fight in a war, some experienced the war and decided it sucked and decided they would take prison over the grave, while many fought in the front lines for months on end with death staring at them daily and they just cracked, they couldn't take it anymore. The story follows the campaigns and describes the situations that led to some of the desertions, why and how they happened, what happened after the desertions, and how they ended up in the end. Many of them didn't regret what they did but they were haunted by those that didn't desert and paid the ultimate price. Being a vet myself from the Vietnam era although I didn't serve in Vietnam, you wonder how you would handle the heat of battle, you hope you would be OK but unless you do it, you never really know. Out of all I have heard and read about any war is that "War is Hell".
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I think the title overstates what this book accomplishes. I can't credit the book as being a comprehensive look at Deserters of the Second World War. First, because this books only looks at British and American deserters, so no German, Russian, Italian, Finnish, et al. The author does weave in a good deal of context, including extended quotations from "Psychology of the Fighting Man" which helps put more perspective on the experience of these men. It's possible that this story is more comprehensive since statistics are interwoven with the larger narrative. I did find the men whom he chose to focus, all interesting. The scale and variety of the problem of desertion, and the attempts to deal with the problem are an important story to be told. I found this a worthy story.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful