Baptism of Fire
Author: Michael Winston
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 298 pages
This first volume in the Sgt. Smith World War II trilogy follows a squad of First Infantry Division soldiers to the rugged Tunisian desert of North Africa in their first experience of the war. As members of the “Big Red One,” the most famous Division in the American Army, they do battle with the most famous units in the German Army: Rommel’s Africa Corps, as well as the 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions. This is a vivid and unvarnished odyssey into the foxholes of World War II, a gritty look at a war we should never forget, and dedicated to all those brave men and women who through their courage and sacrifice fought to free the world from a cloud of evil.
I really enjoyed reading Baptism of Fire. The author, Michael Winston, expertly captured the mood and atmosphere of the day. He obviously did a lot of research in putting together this story, the story of his father's World War II experiences, referencing actual towns, battle locations, and combat units from both sides. I felt like I was in the fox hole with Sgt. Smith and the others, and felt their emotional impact as members of Smith's squad became casualties during the Allied campaign to drive the Nazis out of North Africa.
Winston writes in a way that lets you get to know each of his main characters. You can feel their pain and frustration with the war, the days of terror in combat, and the days of hunger and fear in between. I appreciated his frank portrayal of the soldiers' lack of respect for many of the officers appointed to lead them, yet follow them they still did.
I recommend Baptism of Fire to anyone who enjoys reading military history or about World War II, and especially to fans of the "Big Red One!"
Reviewed by: Bob Doerr (2012)