Fighting in the Great Crusade combines the terse clarity of George E. Schwend's World War II combat journals with Gregory Daddis's expert commentary on the greater context of that conflict. The result is the rare military work that counterpoints historical and strategic analysis against a foxhole-level view of the war in Europe as US soldiers experienced it.
Schwend's story, which typifies that of young American citizen soldiers on whom the Allied cause depended, follows a draftee through the rigors of basic training and Officer Candidate School and into the grim theater of the European campaigns in 1944 and 1945. The accretion of detail forms a grittily realistic day-to-day account of military life, while Daddis's expansive historical backdrop invests with poignance even such routines as Schwend's faithful attendance at movie screenings as the soldier - and listeners - anticipate the fateful Normandy invasion.
Schwend observes that despite the rigors of his training nothing could have prepared him or his comrades for the savagery of the actions in which they fought.
The book is published by Louisiana State University Press.
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The center piece of the book is the diary of Lieutenant Schwinn, which is the most boring uneventful diary ever written. Every day is what he had for breakfast and who he wrote home to with every movie he saw during the war. Not an honest entry about the difficulties of killing and being killed during the entire war. The only refreshing moments are the entries from the author who ties what the lieutenant had for breakfast in with what was going on in the rest of the war.