Easy Company Soldier

A few years ago, my sister M and I gave our sister G the DVDs to HBO’s Band of Brothers for Christmas. I hadn’t seen it, so that particular Christmas Day, we watched the whole thing, including the documentary about the real men of Easy Company…all 13 hours of it.

Since then, it’s become a Christmas tradition, along with mimosas and manicotti and spending the day in our pajamas. It’s reached the point where we skip over the parts we don’t like, because we know what happened and won’t miss anything by skipping parts.

The other day when I was at the library, I was just poking around in the new non-fiction, when I saw Easy Company Soldier, by Sgt. Don Malarkey with Bob Welch. I flipped it open and saw pictures of men whose names are familiar to me, even those particular faces were not. So I checked the book out.

What’s interesting to me, reading the book, is that it’s giving me a different perspective on events that are tremendously familiar to me. I’m coming at them from a different angle, from one man’s viewpoint, rather than a filmmaker’s viewpoint, or from a historian’s viewpoint (because I’ve also read the book the TV series was based on, Stephen E. Ambrose’s Band of Brothers : E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest).

It’s also an emotional account of the experience. Malarkey is much more candid about the cost of his experiences and the losses he suffered than I expected. Somehow, I had the idea that members of the Greatest Generation didn’t talk about their feelings. Maybe that used to be true; maybe that’s where I got the idea. But in writing this book, Malarkey is candid about himself, about the mistakes he made, and the ugly emotion he experienced.

If you’re a fan of Band of Brothers, I recommend this book as a companion piece, as a way of seeing the same story in a different way.

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