The Winter Army MOBI â The Winter Epub /

  • Hardcover
  • 336 pages
  • The Winter Army
  • Maurice Isserman
  • 15 April 2019
  • 9781328871435

10 thoughts on “The Winter Army

  1. Katie B Katie B says:

    3.5 stars

    I knew a little bit about the 10th Mountain Division's history having lived on Fort Drum when my husband was in the military, but this book certainly gave me a lot more insight. This book covers the time period in which the unit essentially got its start specializing in mountain and winter warfare. Much of the focus of the book is on the time spent fighting in Italy during World War 2.

    One of the more fascinating things I took away from the book was basically skiers were the ones who suggested to the government it might be a good idea to start training soldiers in other places besides warm climates. It just seems like such an obvious thing but yeah up until that point the U.S. military wasn't really prepared to go fight a war on difficult terrain such as mountains. It was also interesting that many of the lower enlisted soldiers who joined the military with more of a winter type background were more experienced than the higher ups who were sent to the unit.

    The training was absolutely demanding and excruciating. And of course it wasn't helped by the fact the soldiers were given just plain old standard issue tents that weren't geared toward harsh environments. Even after soldiers complained what does the government do?, why order 40,000 more of the darn things! Pretty sad the soldiers found alternatives such as digging snow caves and igloos to be slightly better options.

    For me I enjoyed more the small tidbits of information I picked up rather than the strategic parts of the unit's fighting in Italy. It's pretty wild to find out that the ski industry really kicked into high gear after the war and the army sold off tons of ski equipment at a huge discount to civilians. And even though 10th Mountain wasn't located at Fort Drum until decades later, it's nice that some of the soldiers from the World War 2 are still remembered such as John D. Magrath who has a gym named after him on post.

    If you are a military history buff I'm sure you will find this book to be well-researched and a good read. I'm certainly glad I read it even if it wasn't the most compelling nonfiction book I have ever read. Recommend if you enjoy World War 2 nonfiction or are interested in 10th Mountain Division history.

    I was sent an advance reader's copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  2. Alexw Alexw says:

    Fantastic non-fiction book of the World War 2,US 10th Mountian division where they were first division to learn how to ski and then went up the boot in Italy. The tremendous training they went through and the loses they sustained in the war were staggering.
    When they returned, the men started the ski area of Aspen, Vail and Big Mountain in Montana.

  3. Nancy Nancy says:

    Over twenty years ago I met Floyd Erickson, born in the Upper Penninsula Michigan. During WWII Floyd served in the 10th Mountain Division. His life-altering experience under fire on Mt. Belvedere was legendary; everyone knew of his bargain with God which led to his becoming a well-beloved patriarch of the church.

    I recall how Floyd, still trim, proudly donned his uniform to join his fellow soldiers at a reunion. And the stories his wife Elizabeth told of how Floyd supported his large U.P. family and the alteration in his character when he returned from war.

    Maurice Isserman quotes Floyd in his history of the 10th Mountain Division, The Winter Army, in the chapter concerning the Allied invasion of Kiska. After months of training in extreme conditions, the Army was uncertain of what to do with this 'winter army' of men trained for mountain snow and ice. Their first deployment was to oust the Japanese from Kiska in the Aleutian archipelago.

    "It was a terrible night, that first one," Floyd said, recalling the twelve-hour ascent carrying his gear and machine gun ammunition, then digging a foxhole in the pouring rain. The Americans did not know that the Japanese army had already abandoned Kiska. Nineteen mountain troopers died from 'friendly fire'. It was a demoralizing blow.

    Isserman narrates the history of this legendary division with details drawn from oral histories that bring the story to life.

    Toward the end of the war, the 10th Mountain was sent to the Italian Alps. They were there to keep the German army busy. Climbing the iced mountains, crossing the open Po Valley the Po River, and the final battle was horrific.

    Floyd saw his best friend killed in action and suffered permanent hearing loss from a blast.

    Isserman's book focuses on the extraordinary men, the "mix of Ivy League students, park rangers, Olympic skiers, and European refugees," who "formed the first specialized alpine fighting force in US history."

    After the war, these men impacted the ski industry. One became the first executive director of the Sierra Club; another co-found The Village Voice. One co-founded Nike; another became a renowned historian. And there was Bob Dole, US senator, and presidential candidate.

    And there were men like Floyd, an ardent skier from a small town with a large impoverished family, a good man whose life was dedicated to his family and church and community.

    I was given access to a free book by the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  4. Richard O& Richard O& says:

    No story. Just rambling information about everything tangentially aligned with the topic. Only thing missing is the BMs each individual mentioned had.

  5. Peter Goodman Peter Goodman says:

    The Winter Army: the World War II odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America’s elite Alpine warriors,” by Maurice Isserman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019). I had always heard of the 10th Mountain Division—sort of. Just the name itself sticks in one’s mind. But what was it, and what did it do? Here is one story where the subtitle works: the history of the division was indeed an odyssey. It took years to build, it went through vicissitudes before getting into the war, and then the fighting was sharp but short, and the division was done. It began when four skiers sitting around a fireplace in Vermont imagined, first, the nightmare of Nazi ski troops swooping down from Canada into the naked northern states, and then, the creation of a unit of American skiers who could fight off the invaders. Skiing was an exotic sport for rich people and mountaineers. Who could be in this division? Rich young men from Ivy League schools, and tough mountain climbers from the West. In some ways, the division resembled Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders: sportsmen and outdoorsmen---though TR’s troopers looked at it as a bit of a lark. Gradually the Defense Department acceded to the idea of creating first one, then two, then three mountain regiments. Camps were found in the Rockies (one was in a natural bowl that held in all the coal smoke from the barracks and made the place almost unlivable). Training was intense—long, sometimes dayslong treks through the winter woods, carrying rifles and 90-pound packs. The men trained and trained and began to despair of ever being used. Men began to transfer out, to the airborne divisions just to get into action. Where was the division going to be used? At one point they thought the mountains of Burma (what was the point of all that cold weather training)? Finally, in the winter of 1945, the division was sent to Italy, where the Allied offensives were stalled at the foothills of the Alps by stubborn and skilled German resistance. The 10th was the next to the last American division sent into the war. At first they had considered using horses, but the animals sank into the snow; so the troops were supplied with mules. Eventually they made it to the front lines, before a mountain formation known as Riva Ridge, with Belvedere Mountain looming over all. Two previous assaults had failed. But the 10th, with very careful planning and cautious preparations, made a series of surprise, nighttime assaults and carried Belvedere almost before the Germans knew they were there. Then followed a series of equally successful attacks, clearing the mountains of the enemy and finally entering the Po Valley, breaking through the German front completely. There were days of fierce fighting with heavy casualties, but they inflicted grievous damage on the German troops. The Germans were already softening—the Yanks captured a lot of prisoners. Wehrmacht Gen. Albert Kesselring, whose superb command had held up the Allies for a year, acknowledged that the 10th Mountain was among the best, if not the best American unit he faced. But did they ski? No. There weren’t really opportunities for it. they climbed mountains, they traveled through the woods, they were in excellent physical shape. Most of their exploits were overshadowed by events in France, Germany and Russia, but the division gave a very good account of itself. Then the war was over, and it was disbanded. Isserman gives an exceptionally detailed and clear description of the division, using the troops’ letters and interviews as well as the official documents. Rather than the standard military maps, there is a series of hand-drawn maps by Amand Cassini. One thing that I enjoyed was reading about the places in Vermont where the meetings and planning took place, al the ski areas I have visited (even Alta, way up in Utah).

  6. Jill Jill says:

    History Professor Maurice Isserman provides a fascinating chronicle of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, formed at the outset of World War II to serve as an alpine fighting force. Drawing largely from the soldiers' letters, diaries, and memoirs now housed in the 10th Mountain Division Archive at the Denver Public Library, Isserman brings the 10th to life from the inside.

    Initial recruits were drawn from the ranks of championship skiers and mountain climbers, and they trained in the mountains of the American West. Isserman offers a treasure trove of engrossing information about how the army learned to equip and feed men for mountain warfare.

    Although the skills of the 10th weren’t always used in actual combat, the men were able to draw upon their alpine training in the peaks of the North Apennines in Italy, where they moved “always forward” (their informal motto) to help drive the Germans from the Italian war theater. Isserman reports that “in terms of the percentage killed per day in combat, the 10th suffered the highest casualty rate of any US division in the campaign,” impressing both their American superiors and their German opponents with their skill and ferocity.

    History buffs will delight in the way the 10th took Riva Ridge in the Apennines, using the same logic and techniques as the daring and unexpected ascent of the cliffs over the city of Quebec in 1759 by the British during the French and Indian War. There is pretty much never a dull moment in this account.

    When the war was over, the surviving veterans of the 10th had no less interesting lives. Some of them went on to play leading roles in the outdoor winter sports industry. Isserman explains that “literally thousands of 10th veterans were employed one way or another, in the postwar ski industry,” whether as coaches, instructors, ski resort operators [both Aspen and Vail were developed as ski resorts by veterans], or ski equipment designers and promoters.
    One veteran, told he would never walk again from his injuries in Italy, came to Aspen, resumed skiing, and in 1948 finished third in the giant slalom event at the US national ski competition. He and other veterans developed Vail, with ski runs named after men and events from the wartime experience of the 10th Division. "Riva Ridge" is one of the more challenging black diamond runs at the Vail Ski Resort today.

    Evaluation: This unique and inspiring fighting force deserves to be better known. In addition to sharing their history, Isserman also includes a number of valuable insights from a wider perspective, such as about the role of momentum in war that can drive campaigns regardless of rational calculation; the importance of camaraderie in compensating for deficiencies in wartime; what “really” goes on under fire versus media accounts for the home audience; the rude awakening about the costs of war for the young men focused on adventure; and the sometimes selfish motives of the generals who determine their fate. The book excels as sports history as well. Photos and maps are included. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

  7. Ray Ray says:

    In his book "The Winter Army", Maurice Isserman describes the brief history of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division in WW II.  The idea for creating an alpine fighting unit within the Army was based on skills noted in Scandinavian armed forces, and how they used their mountain climbing and skiing expertise while fighting in northern Europe.  There was a recognition that U.S. fighting forces might face similar terrains, and there was no equivalent army units within the U.S. military.  When the unit was initially formed, the Army initially sought out proficient skiers and trained them to be soldiers rather than taking everyday soldiers and trying to make them proficient climbers and skiers.  
    While the unit developed the desired skills early in World War II, they remained stateside for most of the war since their mountain expertise wasn't required on Pacific islands or in most of the European or North African theaters.  So while awaiting deployment where their snow and mountain experience was needed, they spent most of their time training and re-training at their Colorado mountain base.  As a result, much of the book describes the 10th Mountain Divisions training, and about the most important and most interesting personnel in the Unit.  
    When finally deployed to northern Italy late in the war, The Mountain Division experienced only about 45 days of fighting.  They fought bravely, always advancing, and suffered many casualties, but soon the war in Europe was over.  
    Much of the source material apparently was derived from the Mountain Division historical records and from an accumulation of archived letters from Division members.  The book does contain some interesting stories about the survivors and their history after the war, not only of former Kansas Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole, but also of others who kick-started the ski industry in the U.S., or became Olympic athletes and coaches, sport equipment company founders and executives, etc. 

  8. Louis Louis says:

    Maurice Isserman's The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors is the remarkable story of the creation of the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

    The origins lie in, what at the time, seemed like a crazy idea conceived in a ski lodge. However, eventually the idea eventually gained sufficient political traction to become reality and Camp Hale, the training base, was built in less than a year. Members of this elite unit endured high altitude and unpredictable weather in their training as well as uncertainty about whether they would be put to use.

    When the unit was first put into action in the Aleutian Islands, the results including tragic deaths from friendly fire. The unit’s time spent in combat was relatively short-lived—they were sent to Italy relatively late in the war—but sustained substantial casualties in the process. However, those that survived and came home went in a number of different directions, including most notably, establishing the modern ski industry.

    I had a tangential idea of the 10th Mountain Division from venturing to mountain huts in the Colorado hut system that commemorates its legacy. However, I never really appreciated the full history and legacy until I read this book.

  9. David Hill David Hill says:

    This book covers the 10th Mountain Division from it's inception to disbandment. The unit saw action in the Aleutian Islands and in the last four months of the Italian campaign.

    I don't normally read these unit history types of books, but this one interested me because of their training in Camp Hale here in Colorado.

    The division made it to the war a bit late but performed quite well. It was originally envisioned that they'd be somewhat like the ski troopers the Finns fielded in the Winter War against the Soviet Union. It didn't quite turn out that way; in the end, their training in rock climbing was much more important than ski training. And by the time they were deployed, the specialization was beginning to be diluted by replacements who lacked the specialized training. This should not be a surprise: the military generally desires generalization over specialization. Soldiers are stripped of their individuality during basic training, becoming interchangeable parts. It is much the same for units, other than a short list of exceptions.

    The book is drawn mostly from the vast trove of letters by the soldiers, along with some official history documents. There are sufficient maps included to make it easier to follow the action, and the text is pretty clear and easy to read.

    Includes endnotes, index, and many photos, but no bibliography.

  10. Casey Wheeler Casey Wheeler says:

    This book covers the origins of the 10th Mountain Division and it's role in fighting in Italy in World War II. It was formed based on outsiders convincing the Army that it needed troops trained for warfare in the mountains versus just training in warm weather climates. The first half of the book covers the establishment of the division and the second half covers their role in the battles that took place in Italy. It is well documented and written in a style that is easy to read and follow. Of interest is the incorporation of excerpts of letters from the individuals in the division back to home during their training and the war.

    I recommend this book to anyone who is a history or World War II fan and has an interest in reading about a division that has not beed extensively documented in other books on the period.

    I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook  page.

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The Winter ArmyThe epic story of theUS Army’s th Mountain Division, whose elite soldiers broke the last line of German defenses in Italy’s mountains in , spearheading the Allied advance to the Alps and final victoryAt the start of World War II, the US Army had two cavalry divisions—and no mountain troops The German Wehrmacht, in contrast, had many welltrained and battlehardened mountain divisions, some of whom byblocked the Allied advance in the Italian campaign Starting from scratch, the US Army developed a unique military fighting force, the th Mountain Division, drawn from The WinterEpub the ranks of civilian skiers, mountaineers, and others with outdoor experience The resulting mix of Ivy League students, park rangers, Olympic skiers, and European refugees formed the first specialized alpine fighting force in US history By the time it deployed to Italy at the beginning of , this ragtag group had coalesced into a tightknit unit In the months that followed, at a terrible cost, they spearheaded the Allied drive in Italy to final victoryRanging from the ski slopes of Colorado to the towering cliffs of the Italian Alps, TheWinter Army is a sagaof an unlikely band of soldiers forged in the heat of combat into a brotherhood whose legacy lives on in US mountain fighters to this day.

About the Author: Maurice Isserman

Is a wellknown author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Winter Army book, this is one of the most wanted Maurice Isserman author readers around the world.