"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. Theseare the men who took the cliffs. These are thechampions who helped free a continent. Theseare the heroes who helped end a war."—Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984,Normandy, France
Acclaimed historian and author of the "New York Times" bestselling Tour of Duty Douglas Brinkley tells the riveting account of the brave U.S. Army Rangers who stormed the coast of Normandy on D-Day and the President, forty years later, who paid them homage.
The importance of Pointe du Hoc to Allied planners like General Dwight Eisenhower cannot be overstated. The heavy U.S. and British warships poised in the English Channel had eighteen targets on their bombardment list for D-Day morning. The 100-foot promontory known as Pointe du Hoc -- where six big German guns were ensconced -- was number one. General Omar Bradley, in fact, called knocking out the Nazi defenses at the Pointe the toughest of any task assigned on June 6, 1944. Under the bulldoggish command of Colonel James E. Rudder of Texas, who is profiled here, these elite forces "Rudder's Rangers" -- took control of the fortified cliff. The liberation of Europe was under way.
Based upon recently released documents from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Eisenhower Center, Texas A & M University, and the U.S. Army Military History Institute, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc is the first in-depth, anecdotal remembrance of these fearless Army Rangers. With brilliant deftness, Brinkley moves between two events four decades apart to tell the dual story of the making of Reagan's two uplifting 1984 speeches, considered by many to be among the best orations the Great Communicator ever gave, and the actual heroic event, which was indelibly captured as well in the opening scenes of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan".Just as compellingly, Brinkley tells the story of how Lisa Zanatta Henn, the daughter of a D-Day veteran, forged a special friendship with President Reagan that changed public perceptions of World War II veterans forever. Two White House speechwriters -- Peggy Noonan and Tony Dolan -- emerge in the narrative as the master scribes whose ethereal prose helped Reagan become the spokesperson for the entire World War II generation.
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Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His recent Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.From AudioFile:
Forty years to the day after American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, the late President Ronald Reagan gave one of his best speeches. Speaking at the spot where members of the Second Ranger Battalion scaled a cliff under murderous German fire to secure a potentially lethal gun emplacement, Reagan paid homage to the valor of these young American warriors. This work tells several stories very well: the story of the Rangers, that of Ronald Reagan's own military service, and that of the writing of the speech by Peggy Noonan. At the end of the production Reagan's actual speech at Pointe du Hoc and one given not long after at Omaha Beach are presented. Brinkley, a noted historian, does a marvelous job telling his multifaceted story. Enthusiastic and winsome in his presentation, he imparts his excitement to the listener. M.T.F. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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