In The Road to War, author Steven Burgauer weaves a cohesive representation of the diaries of Captain William C. Frodsham, Jr., an Army Officer and POW camp survivor of World War II.
The book’s subtitle, Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture, is aptly named: From December 8, 1941—the day after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor—to August 9, 1945, we accompany Captain Frodsham through his call to duty, basic training, Officers Candidate School, deployment to the European theater of war, Omaha Beach, skirmishes through French hedgerows, capture by the Germans, life in various stalags in Poland, liberation by the Russians, and his return home.
Having visited the D-day landing beaches several times, Captain Frodsham’s memoir offers me a front-row seat to the experiences of a very real soldier on that beach. I find it humbling.
In the early stages of the Captain’s memoirs, the reader sees him as an enthusiastic recruit, an ace at almost all of his training, and a cocky young man. As the war progresses and he has still not seen combat duty, he looks forward to deployment overseas. A good section of the book is dedicated to “Drill” and explains his various assignments and posts. Perhaps a bit too much, but it is tolerable.
The Captain mellows the closer he gets to actual battle, and his cockiness dissipates as he faces the brutal reality of loss of some of his men, injury, blood, and capture. His descriptions of life as a Prisoner of War (POW) are also quite interesting and made me appreciate the work of the Red Cross more than I had before I read the book.
Insights into the military lives of officers vs. enlisted soldiers are offered, and to a reader such as myself who never served in the military, the stratified structure of military life is quite revealing. Most of the time, military terms are explained throughout the book, although there are a few instances where I had to look up some things. I wished for a cheat sheet to look up the differences among squad, platoons, companies, brigades, regiments, and so on. There was a reference to a specific bureaucratic form, too, and I had to research it. There was a minor copyediting error or two, and reading the text on the photos was difficult.
These are minor inconveniences, however, because Mr. Burgauer’s book is highly engaging, and it is a memoir worth reading for its insights into human altruism, courage under fire, and adaptability to extremely difficult situations. It flows well, and is both enlightening and heartfelt.
Reading it, I found author Burgauer constructed a window into Captain Fordsham’s psyche and soul.
by Patricia Walkow, MWSA Reviewer
A riveting first-person account of a brave young man caught up in a cataclysmic World War. This is the story of Captain William C. Frodsham, Jr., who — shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry, where he excelled in basic training, became a junior officer, and eventually led a combat boat team ashore on OMAHA BEACH. Six days later, in French hedgerow country and under withering German fire, Frodsham was wounded and taken prisoner. He spent the next year as a German POW, where he suffered great deprivation before finally being liberated by advancing Russian forces. His training, his courage, his capture. The reader is taken for a first-person tour of the times at home and then tunneled into a vastly different world on the battlefield and in a German prisoner-of-war camp. A truly remarkable story.
Author: Steven Burgauer
ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-13: 9781530012510, ISBN-10: 1530012511
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Number of Pages: 292