The Jersey Brothers

  • by Sally Mott Freeman
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
  • 18 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The extraordinary real-life adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II and their mad race to change history - and save one of their own.
They are three brothers, all navy men, who end up coincidentally and extraordinarily at the epicenter of three of the war's most crucial moments. Bill is picked by Roosevelt to run his first map room in Washington. Benny is the gunnery and antiaircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, one of the only carriers to escape Pearl Harbor and by the end of 1942 the last one left in the Pacific to defend against the Japanese. Barton, the youngest and least distinguished of the three, is shuffled off to the Navy Supply Corps because his mother wants him out of harm's way. But this protection plan backfires when Barton is sent to the Philippines and listed as missing in action after a Japanese attack. Now it is up to Bill and Benny to find and rescue him.
Based on 10 years of research drawn from archives around the world, interviews with fellow shipmates and POWs, and primary sources including diaries, unpublished memoirs, and letters half forgotten in basements, The Jersey Brothers is a remarkable story of agony and triumph - from the home front to Roosevelt's White House and Pearl Harbor to Midway and Bataan. It is the story, written with intimate, novelistic detail, of an ordinary young man who shows extraordinary courage as the Japanese do everything short of killing him. And it is, above all, a story of brotherly love: of three men finding their loyalty to each other tested under the tortures of war - and knowing that their success or failure to save their youngest brother will shape their family forever.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

This is the story of one family's endurance

I finished this book on Memorial Day. It was fitting and relevant. Our family dinner a few hours later included a 92-year-old WWII veteran - a navy man. I had a new awareness of what he might have seen and what he knew. Our conversation that day had far more depth than anything I would have previously imagined. Simply for this spark and understanding, the book is worthy of its 5-star rating.

This isn't a perfect book, but I don't think that would be possible. It's a personal story about one family's experience. By keeping it honest, it lost out on the gloss that fiction might have provided. It is a poignant reminder of all the ways families have been touched by war -- and that's not pretty. There's also an underlying story of family culture and the way harsh experiences get layered.

No, it's not an easy listen. But two days later, I'm still thinking about it and sorting out what remains. It's that kind of book.
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- B.J.

Band of Brothers Meets Unbroken-a Remarkable Book

This is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read, rendered all the more amazing because it is pure fact, not fiction. Anyone who has any interest in the WWII action in the Pacific theater must put this on his/her reading list. As others have noted, it has echoes of "Unbroken", but not only does it cover the territory (and confirm) that book's recounting of the unspeakable horrors suffered by prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese, it covers so many other aspects of the war in the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor to Bataan and the Philippines to the great land and sea battles including Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Leyte Gulf, the Coral Sea - all told from first hand accounts of the three brothers who were there and who could comment not only on the battles but on the commanders who ran them - MacArthur, Halsey, Nimitz, Turner and others. In addition, one of the brothers - the father of the author by the way - witnessed the early years of the war from the inner circle of the White House. He ran (actually, created) FDR's vaunted strategic "map room" and there interacted daily with the president and his war staff (as well as first lady Eleanor) before he, too, shipped out to join the war at sea. To have these three brothers all as first-hand witnesses to some of the major events of the war is itself astounding, and as you would expect, leads to some equally amazing - and heart-wrenching - tales from their home front, focusing on their indomitable mother, Helen. The author spent ten years researching this material not only from family archives but from sources scattered all over the world. She pulls it together beautifully. I couldn't put this book down. I walked extra miles just so I could keep listening and it left me in tears and emotionally drained at the end. Please read or listen to it; it is unforgettable. Brava Sally Mott Freeman!
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- Jack@NYC

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-09-2017
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio