A kaleidoscopic overview of America's citizen soldiers in WW II's European theater of operations. Hoyt (America's Wars, The Death of the U-Boats, Hitler's War, etc.) focuses on the infantrymen and company-grade officers who did the fighting. He tracks them from their 1940 induction through V-E Day. Along the way, GIs trained in dusty camps outside small southern towns endured life aboard troop ships, went bravely into battle, and (when given half a chance) sought, women, wine, or both in every foreign clime. Many of those who survived their initial blooding (against French as well as Germans) in North Africa fought their way across Sicily and up the Italian peninsula. Subsequently, they and other dogfaces participated in the Normandy campaign, which less than a year after its June 6, 1944, start gave the Allies a hard-won victory over Axis forces on the Continent. The combat experiences of Hoyt's veterans ring true--protraCted periods of inaction or make-work duty punctuated by moments of high drama, low comedy, and terror. Though an ethnic and cultural potpourri, the author's GIs shared many traits, most notably a mocking mistrust of authority--in part because most remained civilians at heart, but mainly owing to the high command's capacity for fouling up. To cite but one example, the brass who mindlessly posted noncoms fresh from the States as replacements for casualties sustained by battle-scarred outfits invariably insisted on spit-and-polish military discipline in rear-echelon areas. Drawing on letters home, memoirs, contemporary newspaper accounts, personal interviews, and related sources, Hoyt has fashioned a lengthy (592 pp.) narrative that includes vivid vignettes of GIs in action during WW II. He also captures, perhaps too well for a general readership, the tedium and frustrations that were an integral part of the price paid by those who served in the front lines. The text has black-and-white photographs (not seen), plus a half-dozen helpful maps.