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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 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 GRIPPING READING! April 10 2002
Format:Hardcover
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 EXPLOITS OF THE MEN OF THE 1ST SPEICAL SERVICE FORCE INTO A COLLECTIVE ORAL HISTORY. RECRUITED FROM US AND CANADIAN VOLUNTEERS FOR A SUICIDE MISSION BEHIND THE ENEMY LINES IN NORWAY, THE BOOK COVERS THE UNITS 1942 CONCEPTION TO THEIR 1944 DISBANDMENT IN SOUTHERN FRANCE. THE FORCE WERE THE ELITE OF THE ALLIED FORCED DESPITE THEIR CONTINUED ANONYMITY. TASKED FOR IMPOSSIBLE SPECIAL FORCE MISSIONS, SUCH AS THE NIGHT ASSAULT ON A HUGE MOUNTAIN TOP IN ITALY (ALA THE MOVIE 'THE DEVILS BRIGADE'), THEY STRUCK SHEER TERROR INTO THE VERY HEART OF THEIR ENEMIES, KILLING WELL OVER 12,000 GERMANS, AND ACHIEVING INCREDIBLE RESULTS IN ITALY AND SOUTHERN FRANCE WITH AN EQUALLY INCREDIBLE 600% LOSS RATE. HUMOR, FEAR, HUNGER, COLD, HEAT, AND THE GRATUITOUS HORRORS OF COMBAT ARE RECORDED ON EVERY PAGE. THE FORCEMEN VEIW COMBAT (AND DEATH) IN A VERY UNCOMPLICATED, ABRUPT, AND VERY STRAIGHT FORWARD MANNER. THEIR UNUSUAL ATTITUE IS QUITE PREVELANT FROM COVER TO COVER. THE FORCEMEN SEEM OVERTLY MODEST AT TIMES, ALMOST AS IF THEIR EXTRAORDINARY CAPABILITES WERE THE DAY TO DAY NORM FOR OTHER COMBAT UNITS. THE BLACK DEVIL BRIGADE CAPTURES THE BROTHERHOOD AND HUMAN SPIRIT IN THE ACT OF BRUTAL COMBAT. AND SADLY, YOU WILL LEARN THE PERSONAL AND MOVING DETAILS OF THEIR HORRNEDOUS LOSSES. ULTIMATELY, SPRINGER'S BLACK DEVIL BRIGADE COMES ACROSS AS A REMARKABLE RECORD OF SMALL UNIT ACTION IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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5.0 out of 5 stars MOVING ACCOUNT OF SMALL UNIT COMBAT Jan. 4 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a moving account the 1st Special Service Force, a small brigade of Canadian and American warriors. Written by Joseph A Springer (a yank) presents the quotes of the men of the unit to tell the story. Other reviewist have declared this book a one or two day read. Indeed, it is that and much more. What this book really is, is a thought provoking, masterfully packaged, powerful and overwhelming presentation of a generations sacrifice; and a record of human behavior in extraordinary and remarkable circumstances. The soldiers tell of their views and reactions to combat as if these events happened yesterday. And their stories of combat are quite uncommon to the usual genre of oral histories that are appearing on the shelf. This book reveals the truth of combat and what it can do to the mind. The book details the combat in depth but is surprisingly unponderous. The combat described in these pages is just as volatile and as explicit now as it was for the Canadian and American servicemen of "the Force." Springer has unselfishly shown that the story is in the story itself; in allowing these men of the "Force" to tell of their extraordinary stories in their own words. It is a tribute to the resilience of the greatest generation. I recommend this book to all students of history. It is a remarkable and watershed achievement in oral history genre.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY INTERESTING AND FULL OF NEW FACTS
THE FACTS ARE OLD WITH NEW INSERTS. I ENJOYED READING THIS BOOK FROM JOSEPH A SPRINGER. VERY WELL DONE AND REALLY INTERESTING
Published 11 months ago by toymaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence Continued
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... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004 by Barent K. Parslow
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU CAN'T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN
TAKE ABOUT FIFTY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN WORLD WAR TWO COMBAT VETERANS THAT WILLINGLY VOLUNTEER FOR A WINTER SUICIDE MISSION BEHIND GERMAN LINES. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2003
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 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 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. 22 2002 by Rawn Hart
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 10 2001 by Jason Lewis
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