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Scouts Bob Richardson, George Ruder and Bob Coleman
Cover photo: U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division Intelligence & Reconnaissance scouts Bob Richardson, George Ruder and Bob Coleman living it up, August 1944. In a week, Ruder would be machine-gunned in an ambush in the Rhône Valley; a few weeks later, Coleman would be killed by a German shell in Rambervillers. (Courtesy of Dominick Trubia)

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With Unknown Soldiers, internationally acclaimed author Joseph E. Garland presents World War II through the eyes of a close-knit infantry platoon—men who braved Nazi fire to stake out the front lines of the Allied campaigns in Sicily, Italy, France, and finally Germany. The book began as Garland's wartime notebooks, and follows his journey from privileged Harvard student to “dogface” with the 45th Infantry Division on the Winter Line and then Anzio beachhead. During the 1970s, still struggling with war's aftereffects while attempting to write his memoir, Garland tracked down some 20 buddies. Most had rarely spoken of the war to anyone; they talked to Joe with grit and humor and suffering intact, and the story grew into a collective memoir.

Garland gets beyond the heroism of conventional war memoirs, revealing in almost eerie, present-tense immediacy the everyday lives of soldiers as they discuss among themselves everything under the sun while gathering around a wind-up record player in a cave in Italy, and driving along French country roads lethal with enemy gunfire.

From the author's own wartime love story, to the recollections of a French Resistance fighter who joined the platoon, to fresh eyewitness accounts of the Dachau liberation, Unknown Soldiers contributes important new material to our record of World War II and indeed the true nature of war itself. Sixty-five years in the making, the book fulfills Garland's mission to break the silence that allows war to ensnare generation after generation. In giving voice to his “unknowns,” Joe has given them an indelible place in history.

 

Featured Content

Video of author and Dr. Jonathan Shay discussing the effects of PTSD on the creative process

Chapter 16: Dachau complete text and audio, with author and buddies' voices, now online

Chapter 6 complete text and audio, with author and buddies' voices

Chapter 5 complete text read by author, with buddies' voices


View a slideshow of images.