Synopses & Reviews
THEIR WORK ON THE FRONT LINES MADE HEADLINES
In February 1943, a group of journalists—including a young wire service correspondent named Walter Cronkite and cub reporter Andy Rooney—clamored to fly along on a bombing raid over Nazi Germany. Seven of the sixty-four bombers that attacked a U-boat base that day never made it back to England. A fellow survivor, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, asked Cronkite if he’d thought through a lede. “I think I’m going to say,” mused Cronkite, “that I’ve just returned from an assignment to hell.”
During his esteemed career Walter Cronkite issued millions of words for public consumption, but he never wrote or uttered a truer phrase.
Assignment to Hell tells the powerful and poignant story of the war against Hitler through the eyes of five intrepid reporters. Crisscrossing battlefields, they formed a journalistic band of brothers, repeatedly placing themselves in harm’s way to bring the war home for anxious American readers.
Cronkite crashed into Holland on a glider with U.S. paratroopers. Rooney dodged mortar shells as he raced across the Rhine at Remagen. Behind enemy lines in Sicily, Bigart jumped into an amphibious commando raid that nearly ended in disaster. The New Yorker’s A. J. Liebling ducked sniper fire as Allied troops liberated his beloved Paris. The Associated Press’s Hal Boyle barely escaped SS storm troopers as he uncovered the massacre of U.S. soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.
Assignment to Hell is a stirring tribute to five of World War II’s greatest correspondents and to the brave men and women who fought on the front lines against fascism—their generation’s “assignment to hell.”
In the tradition of incredible true stories from The Great Escape to Argo, Savage Will recounts a tale of survival, daring, and evasion behind enemy lines: that of American medics and nurses stranded for two months in Nazi-occupied Albania.
In 1943, men and women of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron boarded a routine flight from Sicily to the Italian mainland to care for wounded soldiers. En route, their plane drifted hundreds of miles off course and crash-landed in remote mountainous Albania.
The unarmed Americans were trapped hundreds of blizzard-plagued miles from Allied lines, in a country torn apart by rival bands of pro- and anti-German guerrillas. Hunted by German soldiers, the castaways relied on what one survivor called their savage will” to elude their enemy and find their way to freedom.
What followed is the most thrilling untold story of World War IIa saga reaching from President Roosevelt and top Allied intelligence officials to a host of brave Albanian Resistance fighters, the British and U.S. Mediterranean air forces, and the dashing English lieutenant and the tenacious American captain sent behind enemy lines to carry out a heroic rescue.
About the Author
Timothy M. Gay is the author of Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball before Jackie Robinson and Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. His essays and op-eds on American history, politics, public policy, and sports have appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, USA Today, and many other publications. A graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in American history, Tim lives in Virginia with his wife and children.