The untold story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War—now a Netflix original series starring Jose Miguel Vasquez, Bryan Hibbard, and Bradley James
“Exceptional . . . worthy addition to vibrant classics of small-unit history like Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers.”—Wall Street Journal
Written with Alex Kershaw's trademark narrative drive and vivid immediacy, The Liberator traces the remarkable battlefield journey of maverick U.S. Army officer Felix Sparks through the Allied liberation of Europe—from the first landing in Italy to the final death throes of the Third Reich.
Over five hundred bloody days, Sparks and his infantry unit battled from the beaches of Sicily through the mountains of Italy and France, ultimately enduring bitter and desperate winter combat against the die-hard SS on the Fatherland's borders. Having miraculously survived the long, bloody march across Europe, Sparks was selected to lead a final charge to Bavaria, where he and his men experienced some of the most intense street fighting suffered by Americans in World War II.
And when he finally arrived at the gates of Dachau, Sparks confronted scenes that robbed the mind of reason—and put his humanity to the ultimate test.
In his latest WWII narrative, Kershaw (The Longest Winter) examines the war through the experiences of Felix Sparks, an American law student turned soldier who saw action in some of the bloodiest campaigns of 1943 1945. Sparks was initially assigned as a second lieutenant with the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division (the so-called "Thunderbirds") and ended his service as a "world-weary" lieutenant colonel. Kershaw follows Sparks and the 157th as they land at Sicily, help liberate Rome, push on through France, and are among the first American troops to enter Germany. "No force in history is thought to have freed so many people and marched so far to do so," Kershaw proclaims. But the darkest moment comes when the soldiers liberate the concentration camp at Dachau, which pushes many of them to the breaking point. While Kershaw's prose can be purplish, he is a captivating narrator, hammering home the chaos and carnage of war, sparing no sensory detail to paint a cohesive picture. Kershaw's portrayal of his subject (based on interviews with Sparks, who died in 2007, and other survivors) makes for a riveting, almost epic tale of a larger-than-life, underappreciated figure. 16 pages of b&w photos, and photos throughout, 13 maps.
The story of Felix Sparks is cold, scary and beautiful. This is the first book that truly made me understand the horrors of war. The author's ability to paint a crisp picture, while maintaining the factual integrity, and also making the story engrossing, is very impressive. It was hard to put this book down, and I am happy to know that people like Felix Sparks exist in this world. Makes me proud to be an American.
Brigadier General Sparks was a true warrior. The book shows how a leader should act in combat. General Sparks was a man on a mission--to keep his Soldiers alive and setting the example by leading from the front. His civilian career was a mirror image of his military ethics, which lead him to be quite successful.
This book should be on all lieutenant's reading list, as it shows a true warrior, who wasn't a yes man, because he thought of his troops and let his seniors know how he felt.