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The Black Devil Brigade: The True Story of the First Special Service Force in the World War II [Hardcover]

Joseph A. Springer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2001
This is a story told by heroes who, in context of their mission and performance in combat in World War II, lived and fought in an environment where conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in the face of enemy fire were the day-to-day norm. For many, the name First Special Service Force resonates like the clash of swords. To the Canadian and American soldiers who served under the Force's two flags, the name denotes a combat elite that they themselves created. To the enemy soldiers who knew well the Force's lethal audacity, the name evoked admiration, awe, and fear. Here for the first time the soldiers of the legendary First Special Service Force set the record straight, in their own words.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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"A terrific story of adventure, daring, and rough combat. It's essential reading for the history of special forces." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERLATIVE RECORD OF A WWII COMMANDO UNIT Jan. 7 2002
Format:Hardcover
The Black Devil Brigade is most assuredly a watershed in the coverage of World War II oral histories. Mr. Springer personally and diligently interviewed dozens of First Special Service Force veterans and selected and edited, what seems to be...thousands of pages of eyewitness accounts of the most remarkable narrative you will ever examine. Unlike other oral histories this book intertwines the veterans own dialogues in a flowing and explosive tale. The material covers the gamut of emotions...humor, war's brutality, and tragedy, thus making the Black Devil Brigade highly thought provoking. Here you will read of happenings that have been bottled up for sixty years. Many of these stories are short, some are longer, but all are powerful and moving. You will get a sense of what World War II was like for these elites. When reading this book I sat motionless...in awe...while these men describe, in their own accounts, hand to hand combat behind enemy lines with the German Wehrmacht. I simply could not put it down.
Organized into 10 chapters and the author insightfully pieces the narrative together with short and astute bridges.
Chapter 1 includes the remarkable story of recruiting the men for a suicidal mission...to destroy dams and heavy-water factories...behind enemy lines in 1942 Norway. One wonders why soldiers would put their lives at such unnecessary risk. Here you can examine...volunteer to volunteer...the reasons in their own words.
Chapter 2 covers the First Special Service Force and their arrival at Ft William Henry Harrison located near Helena, Montana. This is my second favorite chapter. The Canadian and American grew together and became close as brothers. This section also covers their reflections of training...
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5.0 out of 5 stars VERY INTERESTING AND FULL OF NEW FACTS Sept. 1 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
THE FACTS ARE OLD WITH NEW INSERTS. I ENJOYED READING THIS BOOK FROM JOSEPH A SPRINGER. VERY WELL DONE AND REALLY INTERESTING
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence Continued Jan. 26 2004
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Springer may have been initially motivated by the desire to honor his uncle (killed serving with the First Special Service Force) but his work honors all who served in that unit. One seldom sees an oral history which tells the story of a unit so well. All the contributions by unit members tell the story without the distractions often found in other compilations. Always engaging, you just don't want to put the book down. Not only does one learn about the unit and individuals who made up that unit but one also learns about the equipment used, how it was acquired, and the soldiers' opinions of its performance. An amazing amount of information presented in a way that also entertains and honors the men who served.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A true tribute Dec 6 2003
Format:Hardcover
Hats off to Joe Springer....! He did the men of 5-2 and the FSSF an honor. My father was a Lieutenant in 5-2 FSSF and one of the main characters of the book, and Joe's Uncle was one of my father's NCO's who was KIA on Anzio. The personal accounts in the book may sound far fetched and exaggerated. However, this is far from the truth. The exploits of the men of the FSSF are a matter of record. Every man who served in the FSSF is a very unique individual. I got to know many of these gentlemen over the years by attending the annual FSSF reunions. And yes, what an honor and a privilege to just meet and speak with them about WWII and life in general. Every man in the FSSF willingly, and knowingly volunteered to join a unit where the odds of being accepted in the unit is less than 20%, and your chances for survival were even less. Thank You Joe for getting my father to open up regarding his experiences during WWII for your book. It also meant so much to him to honor the men in his command who were taken, that were not only soldiers/warriors, but true friends forever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars YOU CAN'T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN Jan. 21 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
TAKE ABOUT FIFTY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN WORLD WAR TWO COMBAT VETERANS THAT WILLINGLY VOLUNTEER FOR A WINTER SUICIDE MISSION BEHIND GERMAN LINES. THEY ALL HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF EXPLOSIVES, THEY ARE SKIERS, PARATROOPERS, AND ARE EXPERT SHOOTERS. THEY BECOME THE BEST TRAINED AND HIGHLY MOTIVATED AND FIERCEST SOLDIERS THAT THERE GENERATION AND NATIONS PRODUCED. SEND THEM TO CENTRAL ITALY, ANZIOBEACH, AND SOUTHERN FRANCE WHERE THEY SLAUGHTER FIFTEEN TO TWENTY THOUSAND GERMANS. MORE THAN SIXTY YEARS PASS BY AND THEN THESE SAME FIFTY COMMANDOS INVITE YOU INTO THERE HOMES AND TELL YOU ABOUT THE FUNNY, SAD, AND ASTOUNDING THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO THEM IN COMBAT. THAT IS WHAT THIS BOOK IS ALL ABOUT.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent gut-wrenching story Aug. 28 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The book describes combat in the Italian theater, one of the deadliest and fiercest theaters in the entire war. The author, in writing an oral history in the words of those who fought the battles, captures the energy, horror and kinetic energy of heavy, sustained combat. This is a story that moved me deeply. It is violent, gory and true. This book is well written, concise, to the point and informative, and obviously written with love and affection for the troops in the Force. This is a great book and I enjoyed reading about a real life battle from first hand accounts. While reading this book you get to know about what really happen, the lives, and the men who fought so bravely. They should give this book to kids to read at high school so they fully understand the perils that these men faced on the war field in world war two. It opened my eyes to a lot of different things about war.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent gut-wrenching story
The book describes combat in the Italian theater, one of the deadliest and fiercest theaters in the entire war. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars GRIPPING READING!
BLACK DEVIL BRIGADE IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF SMALL UNIT ACTION IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR. JOSEPH SPRINGER GIVES US A GRIPPING, CRAFTSMANLIKE JOB OF PIERCING TOGETHER THE INCREDIBLE... Read more
Published on April 10 2002 by "steelers44"
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book!!!
The "Black Devil Brigade" is an outstanding, informative, and easy to read literary work. Mr. Springer has an ability to make you feel as if you know the men in his book. Read more
Published on March 16 2002 by Melisha
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary account of WWII combat
The Black Devil Brigade is a personal story of the First Special Service Force in World War II. This brigade consist of US and Canadian commandos fighting in Italy. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2002 by "hisprof"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Devil Brigade
I found Joe's book very enjoyable to read. Once I got started reading, I found it hard to put the book down. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2002 by Rawn Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars MOVING ACCOUNT OF SMALL UNIT COMBAT
This is a moving account the 1st Special Service Force, a small brigade of Canadian and American warriors. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Grandson of one of the best
Walter "Pops" Lewis is my grandfather. If it wasn't for this book, I wouldn't know about the things he experienced. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2001 by Jason Lewis
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