The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II

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9780143125488: The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II

A poet, a gangster and an agent of the Resistance; ’Deserter’ details three astonishing lives shaped by the decision to flee during WWII.

During the Second World War, the British lost 100,000 troops to desertion, and the Americans 50,000. Commonwealth forces from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Britain's colonial empire also left the ranks in their thousands. But, surprisingly, only one WWII deserter was executed for his crime.

In ‘Deserter’, veteran reporter and historian Charles Glass gives voice to the powerful stories of three soldiers, two Americans and one Brit, who all ran from the conflict to meet with distinctly different fates. He follows each into the heat of battle, exploring the pressures that formed their decisions and the lasting impact of their choices. The result is a highly emotional and engaging study of an under-explored area of World War II history.

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Review:

‘Sensitive and thought-provoking … As this compelling and well-researched book shows, the battlefield was not a place for heroes, but a place where young men were dehumanised and killed … Given such conditions who among us would not also have considered walking away?’ Sunday Telegraph

‘[These] stories of individual human beings who eventually cracked under the strain of hardly imaginable fear and misery – are wonderful, unforgettable acts of witness, something salvaged from a time already sinking into the black mud of the past’ Guardian

‘Gripping … painstaking … sympathetic … Glass reveals just how inglorious war really is’ The Times

‘Charles Glass gives us something rare – he describes war, it’s foulness and demonic chaos, not from the heroes’ point of view but from a human point of view … A valuable work’ Evening Standard

‘Remarkable’ Sunday Times

‘With his own skill and sensitivity, Glass recreates the inhuman scenes that pummel the other soldiers he examines … Glass displays an unusual degree of empathy and kinship with these men … refreshing and stimulating – history told from the loser’s perspective. 5*’ Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

‘Glass’s humane and groundbreaking history brings these untold, often tragic stories to light’ Sunday Telegraph

‘An important and refreshing book, shedding light on a subject that deserves attention … deepens our understanding of the realities of modern warfare and is a welcome challenge to the unquestioning hagiography of “The Greatest Generation”’ Times Literary Supplement

‘This is a world of frustrated and degrading brutality, racism and moral stupidity, of opportunistic greed, corruption, fear, mental disintegration and crime … the more familiar narratives of war seem uplifting in contrast … if Glass makes little attempt at neutrality few readers will mind that … If you have tears, prepare to shed them now’ David Crane, Spectator

About the Author:

Charles Glass is the author of ‘Americans in Paris’, ‘Tribes with Flags’, ‘The Tribes Triumphant’, ‘Money for Old Rope’ and ‘The Northern Front: An Iraq War Diary’. A world-famous journalist and broadcaster, he was Chief Middle East Correspondent for ABC News from 1983 to 1993, and has covered wars and political upheaval throughout the world. His writing appears in the Independent and the Spectator. He divides his time between Paris, Tuscany and London.
Visit his website at www.charlesglass.net

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. [A]n impressive achievement: a boot-level take on the conflict that is fresh without being cynically revisionist. -- The New Republic A groundbreaking history of ordinary soldiers struggling on the front lines, The Deserters offers a completely new perspective on the Second World War. Charles Glass--renowned journalist and author of the critically acclaimed Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation --delves deep into army archives, personal diaries, court-martial records, and self-published memoirs to produce this dramatic and heartbreaking portrait of men overlooked by their commanders and ignored by history. Surveying the 150,000 American and British soldiers known to have deserted in the European Theater, The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II tells the life stories of three soldiers who abandoned their posts in France, Italy, and Africa. Their deeds form the backbone of Glass s arresting portrait of soldiers pushed to the breaking point, a sweeping reexamination of the conditions for ordinary soldiers. With the grace and pace of a novel, The Deserters moves beyond the false extremes of courage and cowardice to reveal the true experience of the frontline soldier. Glass shares the story of men like Private Alfred Whitehead, a Tennessee farm boy who earned Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery in Normandy--yet became a gangster in liberated Paris, robbing Allied supply depots along with ordinary citizens. Here also is the story of British men like Private John Bain, who deserted three times but never fled from combat--and who endured battles in North Africa and northern France before German machine guns cut his legs from under him. The heart of The Deserters resides with men like Private Steve Weiss, an idealistic teenage volunteer from Brooklyn who forced his father--a disillusioned First World War veteran--to sign his enlistment papers because he was not yet eighteen. On the Anzio beachhead and in the Ardennes forest, as an infantryman with the 36th Division and as an accidental partisan in the French Resistance, Weiss lost his illusions about the nobility of conflict and the infallibility of American commanders. Far from the bright picture found in propaganda and nostalgia, the Second World War was a grim and brutal affair, a long and lonely effort that has never been fully reported--to the detriment of those who served and the danger of those nurtured on false tales today. Revealing the true costs of conflict on those forced to fight, The Deserters is an elegant and unforgettable story of ordinary men desperately struggling in extraordinary times. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143125488

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. [A]n impressive achievement: a boot-level take on the conflict that is fresh without being cynically revisionist. -- The New Republic A groundbreaking history of ordinary soldiers struggling on the front lines, The Deserters offers a completely new perspective on the Second World War. Charles Glass--renowned journalist and author of the critically acclaimed Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation --delves deep into army archives, personal diaries, court-martial records, and self-published memoirs to produce this dramatic and heartbreaking portrait of men overlooked by their commanders and ignored by history. Surveying the 150,000 American and British soldiers known to have deserted in the European Theater, The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II tells the life stories of three soldiers who abandoned their posts in France, Italy, and Africa. Their deeds form the backbone of Glass s arresting portrait of soldiers pushed to the breaking point, a sweeping reexamination of the conditions for ordinary soldiers. With the grace and pace of a novel, The Deserters moves beyond the false extremes of courage and cowardice to reveal the true experience of the frontline soldier. Glass shares the story of men like Private Alfred Whitehead, a Tennessee farm boy who earned Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery in Normandy--yet became a gangster in liberated Paris, robbing Allied supply depots along with ordinary citizens. Here also is the story of British men like Private John Bain, who deserted three times but never fled from combat--and who endured battles in North Africa and northern France before German machine guns cut his legs from under him. The heart of The Deserters resides with men like Private Steve Weiss, an idealistic teenage volunteer from Brooklyn who forced his father--a disillusioned First World War veteran--to sign his enlistment papers because he was not yet eighteen. On the Anzio beachhead and in the Ardennes forest, as an infantryman with the 36th Division and as an accidental partisan in the French Resistance, Weiss lost his illusions about the nobility of conflict and the infallibility of American commanders. Far from the bright picture found in propaganda and nostalgia, the Second World War was a grim and brutal affair, a long and lonely effort that has never been fully reported--to the detriment of those who served and the danger of those nurtured on false tales today. Revealing the true costs of conflict on those forced to fight, The Deserters is an elegant and unforgettable story of ordinary men desperately struggling in extraordinary times. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143125488

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