“An important contribution to the history of World War II . . . I have never before been able to learn so much about maintenance methods of an armored division, with precise details that underline the importance of the work, along with descriptions of how the job was done.”—Russell F. Weigley, author of Eisenhower’s Lieutenants
“Cooper saw more of the war than most junior officers, and he writes about it better than almost anyone. . . . His stories are vivid, enlightening, full of life—and of pain, sorrow, horror, and triumph.”—Stephen E. Ambrose, from his Foreword
“In a down-to-earth style, Death Traps tells the compelling story of one man’s assignment to the famous 3rd Armored Division that spearheaded the American advance from Normandy into Germany. Cooper served as an ordnance officer with the forward elements and was responsible for coordinating the recovery and repair of damaged American tanks. This was a dangerous job that often required him to travel alone through enemy territory, and the author recalls his service with pride, downplaying his role in the vast effort that kept the American forces well equipped and supplied. . . . [Readers] will be left with an indelible impression of the importance of the support troops and how dependent combat forces were on them.”—Library Journal
“As an alumnus of the 3rd, I eagerly awaited this book’s coming out since I heard of its release . . . and the wait and the book have both been worth it. . . . Cooper is a very polished writer, and the book is very readable. But there is a certain quality of ‘you are there’ many other memoirs do not seem to have. . . . Nothing in recent times—ridgerunning in Korea, firebases in Vietnam, or even the one hundred hours of Desert Storm—pressed the ingenuity and resolve of American troops . . . like WWII. This book lays it out better than any other recent effort, and should be part of the library of any contemporary warrior.”—Stephen Sewell, Armor Magazine
“Cooper’s writing and recall of harrowing events is superb and engrossing. Highly recommended.”—Robert A. Lynn, The Stars and Stripes
“This detailed story will become a classic of WWII history and required reading for anyone interested in armored warfare.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[Death Traps] fills a critical gap in WWII literature. . . . It’s a truly unique and valuable work.”—G.I. Journal
Without a doubt, this is one of the finest WWII memoirs ever written by an American junior officer. Lieutenant Cooper served with the 3rd Armored Division's Maintenance Battalion and saw action from Normandy to Germany in 1944-1945. One of the army's two heavy armored divisions, the 3rd lost 648 M4 Shermans and had another 700 tanks damaged, repaired and put back in service by the time the shooting ended in May 1945. Cooper, as one of the division's three ordnance liaison officers, was in the midst of the division's tank recovery operations. He writes about the tenacity of the maintenance mechanics and their ability to improvise and devise their own policies. Cooper is unsparing in his criticism of George S. Patton and other generals whose belief in mobility over heavy armor kept the Sherman medium tank as the standard. American tank crews quickly learned that these "death traps" were no match for heavier German tanks such as the Panther and King Tiger. Cooper describes the difficult maneuvering in the hedgerow country, the confusion of the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of Nordhausen concentration camp and the destruction of an entire column of tanks and other vehicles. Cooper demonstrates convincingly that it was the unheralded work of the maintenance section that allowed the 3rd Armored Division to maintain its combat effectiveness. This detailed story will become a classic of WWII history and required reading for anyone interested in armored warfare. Photos not seen by PW.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Excellent and well written book. Very educational and wonderfully explained in detail.
Good technical history
As an engineer interested in history this book provides an interesting review of the armored battles of ww2
An interesting read. Most books address the fighting units; this is about the supporting units, which I hadn't given much thought. The descriptions of organizations, battles and movements could have been easier for the novice to understand with the use of graphics. Likewise diagrams of the tanks pointing out the location of items being discussed, would have been helpful. Never-the-less, a very interesting book.