Read the Reviews
"This intense memoir lands readers in the middle of WWII ... a clear, unflinching panorama of the mundane and the horrific."
"He presents a perspective that the parents and loved ones of the common foot soldier might have received from war journalist Ernie Pyle or cartoonist Bill Mauldin, a perspective that has been buried under the broad scope of history and is rapidly vanishing from our ranks with an aging generation."
"Garland couples extensive use of primary source material and impeccable research to convey the terror, boredom, serendipity, stupidity, comradery and mud that the "dogface" soldier faced in the European campaign of World War II." - Iowa City Public Library Staff Picks blog - 9/12/2009
"I have read a number of Joe Garland's books. I wondered if Garland could meet the high standard he has set. He not only met it, he blew it away! If you want to read about the war in Italy, then read this book. If you want to read about the liberation of the French from their perspective, read this book. If you want to read about WWII through the eyes of an enlisted infantry man and his buddies, you need to read this book. You will not be disappointed!"
"Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of World War II will want to get a copy of Joseph E. Garland's Unknown Soldiers: Reliving WWII in Europe . [...] It is a wholly new perspective on what American involvement in the war meant to those whose country had been overrun by Hitler's Wehrmacht."
"[A] stirring confession and uncommon tribute to the common soldier."
"It is a work of staggering effort, beauty and importance. Critics hail it as an achievement of a lifetime, 65 years of work devoted to the finest non-fiction writing and to the understanding of what a man owes his country, his buddies and his conscience."
"Garland presents a testament to the heroism of those who fought, died, and lived, and shows that survival guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder beleaguered the warriors of the 'Good War' much as the veterans of Vietnam." - Karl Helicher, ForeWord Magazine (March/April 2009)
"Written with Garland's trademark colloquial eloquence, wit, and meticulous detail, it emphasizes the truth about the up-close, invasive, lasting effects that the horrors of warfare have on human beings expected to carry it out, and the silence they are expected to maintain about it upon their return home to be spouses, parents, breadwinners, and well-adjusted members of society."
"[A] vivid picture of wartime life. A highly recommended addition to World War II testimonial shelves."
"Reading these memoirs of one who was really there and includes the memories of so many others who were with him is both a pleasure and a profound learning experience."
"One reviewer called Unknown Soldiers a "masterpiece;" another said it is an "incredible journalistic monument." It is all those things. And more."
"You've seen 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Band of Brothers'? Joe's book is the third piece of that trilogy."
" Unknown Soldiers is the haunting song of how war altered the destiny of a 20-year-old Brookline boy who was supposed to take his place as the fourth generation of Dr. Joseph Garlands [but] found himself on [Italy's] Winter Line as a forward observer, calling in artillery on German soldiers . . ."
". . . [Joseph Garland] fought with the famed 45th Infantry division. The book, explains publicist Carol Fass, began as a war diary started in 1943, but Garland later felt compelled to turn it into the collective memoir of his platoon's survivors. Laura Fillmore calls the book 'startlingly relevant. Now more than ever we need to tap the wisdom of our elders, learning firsthand from the dogfaces who fought the last "good" war, the horrors that await us if we shun peaceful means of conflict resolution.'"
"His writing is highly engaging and shares the story of the 45th and its 511 days in combat and four amphibious landings, providing an excellent narrative history of the division during World War II, as well as a personal reckoning. A must have for any World War II collection, especially those focusing on war memoirs."
" Unknown Soldiers may be one of the finest first-person, nonfiction accounts of men at war ever written. Human-scale, dirt-and-mud real, it is about the day-to-day business of men at war, trying to stay alive."
"If there is a better way to enjoy a Joe Garland book than reading it in a dim lonely light, it is having the author read it to you in a dim-lit room filled with fellow appreciators of Gloucester's senior wordsmith."
"Dying, killing, eating, slogging, sitting, shivering, hiding, digging, nothing that was experienced in his war by him and his buddies and their commanders or that bore on their fates was overlooked, ignored, and seemingly nothing was forgotten, no matter how far afield or off the beaten track . . . "
"Gloucester's Joseph E. Garland has written what I believe will be regarded as the most important book of his brilliant career."
"Phillipsburg's Lester Gerencer died in 1998 but his memory lives on in Unknown Soldiers . . ."
"Garland's journals come to life revealing extraordinary detail of his every thought, fear and dream in an eloquent and wise voice. At times gut-wrenching-at other times humorous and always poignant, Unknown Soldiers is a wonderfully insightful narrative into our nation's history and the price of freedom paid by young people in uniform."
"The clear-eyed-but also painful-gravity of the truth. If war is a ghost in the soul, Unknown Soldiers is the rubrics of exorcism. Simple, unembellished, therefore eloquent. Such truth alone brings freedom."
"Not many people today remember what a hell of an outfit the 45th Infantry Division was-four amphibious combat landings, 511 days in combat, over 100% casualties, and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. They did it all. And with them all the way was Joe Garland, [whose] amazing account ... tells what real war is all about. Garland is a terrific writer - at least as good as the fine war correspondent Richard Tregaskis and better, I would say, than the legendary Ernie Pyle. Unknown Soldiers is Joe Garland's masterpiece."
"This book is certain to remain a valuable addition to the annals of the war for generations to come."
"An engrossing, and revealing, and tragic work ... We are the grateful beneficiaries of Garland's service, and of this magnificent work."
"Painstaking historian and vibrant storyteller, Joe Garland recaptures these soldiers ' precious lives so they will never be Unknown again ... Inside this incredible journalistic monument is a love story so touching and so extraordinary you will want to walk side by side with the Garlands for another 65 years."
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