Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Surviving the Odds by Jack Capell

Surviving the Odds:From D-Day to VE-Day With the 4th Division in Europe by Jack Capell
ISBN: 9781930053496
Author: Capell, Jack

Being a Canadian, most WWII books I have read have been Canadian also. That said, this book is extremely well-written, is told truthfully and remarkably straight-forward. This is the story of the undecorated heroes as told by one person who was there. These are the true heroes who fought in the front without questioning their duty and with no intention of giving up what they were fighting for. The book takes us from Capell’s early history and his journey into front line combat. Due to a mixup in his citizenship (he was born in Canada but lived almost his entire life in the U.S.) he was placed in the lowest ranks. What is interesting in the early part of the book is the number of mistakes made while still in training in the U.S. and England. This is unconscionable. This followed by the infamous error incurred during the landings on the beaches of Normandy, including the one that caused his division to be dropped in deep water in the wrong part of the beach, complete with the vehicle he was driving and managed through ingenuity to recover from the bottom. This is one of many instances throughout the book where soldiers' inventiveness saved their lives and others.

As has notably happened in both Canada and the United States, perhaps everywhere, after 40 to 50 years, many servicemen felt they were able to go back to that time in their recollections and hence we are able to benefit from the reliving of not only the hardships, horrors, chaos and deprivations suffered at these times, but also see the amazing strengths, faith, and indeed the humor which kept them going. So it goes in this book. It is strongly researched, but the memories come through as honest remembrances of actual acts, good or bad, no holds barred. That the author survived to tell his story is nothing short of a miracle, especially as a wireman, laying wire through enemy lines. In light of the “friendly fire” visited on his division so many times it’s remarkable that anyone survived the front lines. This story demonstrates humanity among inhumanity. The story is conversational in tone and very easy to read considering it’s content. I highly recommend this book for it’s integrity, it’s ability to bring the experiences to a new level of understanding, and it’s unfaltering faith. I firmly believe this book needed to be written, for what is the use of reading literature by the observers? This is literature by a full-time player.

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