Although they occurred 70 years ago, the events and stories surrounding World War II maintain wide popular interest. Today, on the 68th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, we highlight one war story that has inspired many others.
Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 book Band of Brothers, E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne: From Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, tells the story of the men of “Easy Company” as they fought through Europe. The book was adapted into a highly popular television miniseries that aired on HBO in 2001 and was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had recently collaborated on Saving Private Ryan, another outstanding film that features D-Day prominently.
Episodes of Band of Brothers frequently appear on television these days, but if you’re interested in watching the entire series, the Library owns both DVD and Blu-Ray editions. Both sets include several outstanding special features and historical background information. Another interesting way to watch the series is to see how many of the fine ensemble cast you can recognize from other movies and television programs. You can’t miss those in prominent roles like Ron Livingston (“Office Space“) or Donnie Wahlberg (TV’s “Blue Bloods“), but you’ll also catch glimpses of David Schwimmer (“Friends“) and the truly eagle-eyed will spot Jimmy Fallon (“Saturday Night Live”, “Late Night”) in a brief cameo.
The success of Band of Brothers inspired many of the surviving members of Easy Company to tell their individual stories. Here is a list of related titles you can find in our collection (descriptions taken from the TV series’ Wikipedia article):
- A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us (2010), by journalist Marcus Brotherton. Penguin. Profiles about the deceased Easy Company men, as remembered by their family members.
- Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters (2006), by Major Richard Winters and Colonel Cole Kingseed. The first of Dick Winters’ memoirs.
- Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers (2005), by Larry Alexander. The second of Dick Winters’ memoirs.
- Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends, by William Guarnere and Edward Heffron with Robyn Post. Book hit the New York Times Best Seller List.
- Call of Duty, by Lynn Compton with Marcus Brotherton. Recounts how Buck Compton went on to have a career as attorney and prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy.
- Easy Company Soldier, by Donald Malarkey with Bob Welch.
- In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers: A Return to Easy Company’s Battlefields with Sgt. Forrest Guth (2010), by Larry Alexander. Part travelogue, part historical perspective, from the author of Dick Winters’ second memoir.
- Parachute Infantry, by David Kenyon Webster. Published posthumously in 1994. (Webster died in a shark fishing accident in 1961).
- We Who Are Alive and Remain, by Marcus Brotherton. Oral history book released in 2009 featuring 20 of the surviving members of E Co.
Finally, if you enjoy Band of Brothers or any of the related stories, you won’t want to miss the critically acclaimed companion miniseries The Pacific, which also aired on HBO in 2010 (while related production-wise, the two series are separate and can be seen independent of each other). This series focuses on the actions of three U.S. Marines, Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie, and Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone. In addition to owning the series both on DVD and Blu-Ray, the Library collection also includes a number of related books, including:
- Helmet for My Pillow, by Robert Leckie. One of the primary sources for the miniseries. Leckie is a prolific author and many of his other stories are also in the Library collection.
- The Pacific, by Hugh Ambrose. Official companion to the series, written by the son of Stephen E. Ambrose.
- Red Blood, Black Sand: Fighting Alongside John Basilone from Boot Camp to Iwo Jima, by Charles W. Tatum.
- With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, by E.B. Sledge. Another primary source for the series.
Check out some of these stories and take time to remember those who carried forward on D-Day and beyond, and the ones that never returned.