Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's toughest Mission and Led The Way Across Europe, Patrick K. O'Donnell, DaCapo Press, 320 pp., 2012, $26.99.
Patrick O'Donnell's Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's toughest Mission and Led The Way Across Europe is a very dramatic account of the U.S. Army Rangers 1944 to 1945 combat history. He has collected the Ranger's oral accounts of Pointe du Hoc, the Normandy breakout, and Hill 400 in Hurtgen Forest and has woven them into a vivid, well paced, suspenseful work of history. Bravery nearly beyond belief and courage that nearly beyond endurance is a constant in these episodes.
The words of the soldiers of Company D, Second Ranger Battalion were transcribed by O'Donnell, himself a combat veteran. He understands combat from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. Creeping artillery barrages, death by friendly fire, and deaths from sharpshooters are not unique single occurrences but regularly occur throughout the book. O'Donnell is also a masterful interviewer who is able to elicit candid remarks from the veterans. There are frank recollections of the insubordination of enlisted men toward commissioned offices; the one and two syllable responses of enlisted men to officers is not rare.
O'Donnell sets the strategic and tactical information forth in a concise manner. The veterans voices are heard more often than the authors. There is an occasion when O'Donnell enters the story. The ferocity of the combat in the Hertgen Forrest during late November and early December should have warned the generals that the U.S. Army had advanced into a situation that was indicative of something larger to come. O'Donnell is clear in his own interpretation that the Hertgen Forest was a trip wire for the Ardennes Forrest, which was to explode the last weeks of December.
Patrick K. O'Donnell is a military historian and the award-winning author
of seven books, including the bestselling
Beyond Valor, Give Me Tomorrow, and We Were One, the remarkable and highly
acclaimed account of the Battle of Fallujah. He was an historical
consulting for DreamWorks' the miniseries Band of Brothers and
for documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, and Fox News.