While Breuer's WW II service was with a mortar platoon, he fought alongside US paratroopers in Normandy and during the Battle of the Bulge. Fond memories thus inform his rousing celebration of the bold soldiers whose mission it was to ball out of low-flying aircraft behind or over enemy lines. Drawing on interviews with over 400 surviving veterans, the prolific military historian (Hitler's Undercover War, p. 595) offers an absorbing anecdotal account of the vital role played by American parachutists in the Allies' defeat of the Axis. Tracing the airborne infantry's genesis back to a scheme hatched by Billy Mitchell during the early autumn of 1918, he delivers a comprehensive briefing on the many campaigns in which Army and Marine paratroopers participated either via combat jumps or as ground forces. Covered, for example, are Operation Torch in North Africa, landings on Sicily and at Anzio, D-day, the liberation of France's Riviera, Amhem, the Nazis' last-gasp Ardennes offensive, and the costly recapture of Corregidor, surrendered to the Japanese in 1942. Throughout, the author manages to keep his lengthy (672-page) narrative in human scale. Without scanting the contributions of respected, even revered, commanders like Gavin, Ridgeway, and Taylor, he focuses on the exploits of individual troopers in major engagements as well as tactical skirmishes. Breuer also devotes a chapter to America's first all-black paratroop unit, which, though it didn't get overseas, performed with distinction fighting forest fires on the home front. A top-flight annalist's grand tribute to brave men whose lot was gore as well as glory. The text has 129 photographs and seven maps (not seen).