SEVEN ROADS TO HELL by Donald R. Burgett


A Screaming Eagle at Bastogne
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A stirring combat memoir by a WWII paratrooper of the elite 101st Airborne Division, the famed Screaming Eagles. Burgett (Currahee!, not reviewed) writes here of his experiences during the heroic stand of small US forces at the strategic Belgian town of Bastogne, crossroads of seven converging, passable roads in the heavy forests of the Ardennes that the Germans needed to capture to ensure the steady stream of men, machines, and supplies necessary for a quick victory in the Battle of the Bulge. Burgett had already survived the carnage of D-day and Arnhem to become one of the “old men” (aged 19) in the successful defense of Bastogne, an epic of courage, fortitude, and spirit that stopped the huge, powerful, armored German army short of the vital port of Antwerp. Surrounded by overwhelming enemy man- and fire-power, the outnumbered light infantry paratroopers plus small elements of the 10th Armored Division and field artillery battalions held the line for weeks. US forces paid a heavy cost in lives and wounded until relieved by General Patton’s Third Army attacking the German flank. Burgett lost many of his buddies and original comrades in the bloody struggle—he himself was wounded three times—but the troops never lost the fighting spirit of their heroic leader, Brigadier General Anthony C. (“Nuts”) McAuliffe, who refused to surrender in a very dark time. Burgett’s spare prose captures the gritty reality of subzero temperatures; rough, snow-covered terrain; shortages of food, adequate clothes, heavy weapons, and ammunition. He gives the reader a sense of actually being there day to day with the squad and platoon, capturing the tension, excitement, and drama of their seemingly doomed situation, even though the reader may know the final outcome. Burgett bypasses the generals” war-game vantage point to give us a front-line soldier’s blood-and-guts eyewitness account of a decisive WWII battle.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-89141-680-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999


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