Happy Holidays to my non-existent readers. This year, my wife finally gave up and just picked some things I had forgotten I’d placed on an Amazon list. This is a good thing, as I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading regularly, much like I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging.
I drive to work now, which totally cuts into my reading time (and blogging time). I’ll have to fix all of that in the near future.
I’m always amazed at all the stories from World War Two that remain more-or-less untold. Things like the Battle of Castle Itter, where GIs and German soldiers teamed up with French prisoners to hold off a division of Waffen-SS. It shouldn’t be surprising. Everyone has a story and those were storied times.
However, few stories are as amazing as that of American Paratrooper Joseph Beyrle, who managed to parachute into France (repeatedly), survive torture (repeatedly) and escape from a prisoner of war camp (repeatedly) to fight alongside the Soviets (just once, but for a bit).
Not only that, Beyrle apparently fought under the command of the only woman tank commander in the Red Army (and possibly the only female tank commander in WWII). Aleksandra Samusenko, according to Wikipedia. Insane.
In short, Behind Hitler’s Lines is fascinating and well worth your time if you even have a passing interest in the second World War. The author, Thomas H. Taylor, is a Vietnam-era veteran of the 101st Airborne and son of WWII General Maxwell Taylor, commander of the 101st. Despite the pedigree of the author–and the subject matter itself–I found the book fairly accessible.
The connection between the Taylors wasn’t quite clear in the book except for a brief mention in the Acknowledgements, so thank Crom for Wikipedia in clearing that up. Taylor (um, the author one), pads out the story a bit with tales of Ed Albers, a contemporary of Beyrle who was also from Muskegon. Albers joined the 101st in time for Operation Market-Garden (of A Bridge Too Far fame) after Beyrle had already been captured, and serves as a sort of “What If” counterpart to pad out the story some.
By the time Albers enters the story, Beyrle apparently had been in a post-concussive haze following the skull-cracking he’d received from his German torturers. Beyrle’s story was harrowing enough, but including Albers didn’t detract from the book at all.
So, that’s my recommendation. Still to read: Robert M. Price’s collection of Robert Bloch’s Lovecraftian Mythos tales, Mysteries of the Worm; Nobelist Kary Mullis’s autobiography Dancing Naked in the Mind Field; Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer; and the 2018 edition of Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life.
Speaking of money, feel free to buy any of these via my Amazon link. I need one purchase soon or they’ll cancel my affiliateness, I’m sure.