THE SWORD OF ST. MICHAEL by Guy LoFaro

THE SWORD OF ST. MICHAEL

The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II

KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive history of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, from an officer of that famed unit.

Wartime Chief of Staff George Marshall viewed airborne troops, at the division level, as a means to transform the battlefield as a whole, and incorporated the idea in his 1941 draft invasion plan for April 1943. He backed the officers like Matthew Ridgway and James Gavin who brought the division into existence and organized its tactics and supplies. However, after the unit's first mission in Sicily, Eisenhower, who was unsure of a deployment based on relatively independent small units acting on their own initiative, wanted the division units disbanded. Marshall prepared a “Plan C” for Eisenhower's consideration for D-Day in 1944, suggesting a proposal to drop two or three divisions of airborne troops into the Orleans Gap 85 miles inland from the Normandy beaches to cut German supply lines and communications. Marshall called this proposal “vertical envelopment.” As LoFaro ably shows, this strategic conception was subordinated to both staff caution and inter-allied intrigue, which limited the application of the unit's potential but not the heroism of its troopers in combat against the Germans. They were never deployed in the way Marshall envisioned. LoFaro singles out as exemplary both Ridgway and Gavin, who led their troops from the front.

A tour de force for military historians and WWII buffs, and a lesson on the leadership skills required to effectively conceive and coordinate a mission.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-306-82023-6
Page count: 784pp
Publisher: Da Capo/Perseus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2011




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