STRIKE SWIFTLY! by Marvin Jensen


The 70th Tank Battalion from North Africa to Normandy to Germany
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 During WW II, Jensen served as a cook in the bivouac of a potent tank battalion. His first book is a proud history of the unit and, not incidentally, a tribute to his friends at the front. The men of the 70th Tank Battalion fought from Tunis and Sicily to Normandy on D-Day. Then, through the hazardous Norman hedgerows to the glory of Paris on Liberation Day, from the Seigfried Line into the Battle of the Bulge, often advancing beyond their maps, they were an integral part of bloody, cosmic events. Jensen records the details, including the symbiotic kinship of the tankmen and the infantry. We learn the difference in handling a light tank and a medium one. He notes the functions of quartermaster and ordnance, field kitchen and graves registration. Official records, action reports, citations, and other historical sources are marshaled to record events in the life of the battalion (like the surrender of some 20,000 Germans to its A Company, consisting of just 134 men). But the personal journals and letters and many interviews with veterans of the 70th are the most powerful evidence of military prowess coupled with basic humanity. Jensen's debriefing is almost pedestrian, merging minor events and high drama. Yet it is a matter-of-fact record of unsurpassed comradeship and courage. By the last page, these tales of bravery become a powerful evocation of the world's last good war. For this military history, a feeling for the difference between a squad and a division or a carbine and a howitzer might be helpful but is certainly not required. It's a simple text of a harrowing time when men fought, not for a flag, but for their brothers-in-arms and their honor and then went--those who survived- -home again. (maps and photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-89141-610-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997