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As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the gr As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the great, true, unforgettable war stories of all time.


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As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the gr As a newly commisioned Captain of a veteran Army regiment, MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. In this plain-spoken but eloquent narrative, we live each minute at MacDonald's side, sharing in all of combat's misery, terror, and drama. How this green commander gains his men's loyalty in the snows of war-torn Europe is one of the great, true, unforgettable war stories of all time.

30 review for Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    Supurb memoir of a Company Commander who joins his unit as a replacement in the fall of 1944. He earns a Silver Star for holding back the German advance at the southern edge of the "Bulge" longer than anyone thought possible, then drives through to meet the Russians on the Elbe. Without a pause, he's transferred to Third Army thrusting deep into Czechoslovakia, and makes it past Pilsen when the war ends and he again meets the Russians. Like anyone, especially a replacement Captain, he's terrifie Supurb memoir of a Company Commander who joins his unit as a replacement in the fall of 1944. He earns a Silver Star for holding back the German advance at the southern edge of the "Bulge" longer than anyone thought possible, then drives through to meet the Russians on the Elbe. Without a pause, he's transferred to Third Army thrusting deep into Czechoslovakia, and makes it past Pilsen when the war ends and he again meets the Russians. Like anyone, especially a replacement Captain, he's terrified he won't perform in battle; that he won't earn the respect of his men. Steady on the outside, and often called upon by his Colonel for dangerous advances, he thinks to himself "Here it comes, here it comes," over and over each time he goes on the attack. It must have worked. This isn't a grunt's eye view, nor is it the big picture. It's in between, and Charles McDonald is a perceptive writer: I could "see" most of the tactical situations he describes. What the book lacks is significant personal connection between the author and his men, or even his family, or girl, back home. All is eclipsed by the responsibilities of a Company Commander--and, facing daily barrages from German 88mm guns, I can't say I blame him.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    This was written shortly after the end of the war. The author went on to become a military historian and his experiences as a company commander parallel those of Winters in Band of Brothers. This is not for the faint-hearted and the names have not been changed to protect the innocent - or the dead. His men are revealed with all their flaws. As the author says in his preface: "to make a story of a war authentic you must see war--not a hasty taste of war but the dread, gnawing diet of war, the hor This was written shortly after the end of the war. The author went on to become a military historian and his experiences as a company commander parallel those of Winters in Band of Brothers. This is not for the faint-hearted and the names have not been changed to protect the innocent - or the dead. His men are revealed with all their flaws. As the author says in his preface: "to make a story of a war authentic you must see war--not a hasty taste of war but the dread, gnawing diet of war, the horrors and the fears that are at first blunt testimony that you are a novice and then later become so much a part of you that only another veteran, through some sixth sense, may know that those same horrors and fears are yet there." The introduction provides some context. "An infantry regiment with on-paper strength of a little more than 3,000 might lose over twice that many in less than a year of combat." The author of the introduction suggests that "such casualty rates played havoc with the concept of 'Band of Brothers' . . .An infantry company's makeup was constantly changing." Wounded being sent back to the front rarely were returned to their original outfits. Casualty rates among the infantry -- note that Winters was airborne -- were staggering. They suffered "more than 90% of the casualties in Europe." Marshall's "ninety-division gamble," an attempt to keep the army as small as possible -- something I had no clue about -- is so reminiscent of Rumsfeld's similar attempt with its consequent disaster in Iraq. Marshall's reasoning was to apply as much resource as possble to war production and air and naval power. Plus ca change....... This is the unvarnished memoir of combat. Sometimes retreats occur against orders. Often superior officers flee the battlefield, then write each other up for medals. Fear is omnipresent, atrocities happen, hot showers become more than luxeries. He dreaded sending out patrols at night to collect information they had already reported to headquarters just so the rear brass could type up more reports. He and his men have little respect for the higher ranks. "It seemed that since we were now in a 'quiet' position that every officer in the division with the rank of major or above wanted to inspect the company area. The condemned the men for not having shaved or for wearing knit wool caps without their helmets, evidently an unpardonable misdemeanor, or for untidy areas around the dugouts. The officers did not inspect my 1st Platoon area, [stationed farthest foward and subjected to random shelling:] however, usually passing it over with the excuse it was too far to walk, but we laughed inwardly, knowing it was the threat of enemy shelling that kept most of them away." MacDonald was thrown into combat as a captain replacement officer with little or no combat experience. He was assigned company I, a group that swore action followed them around. As soon as they were pulled from a an intense sector, it quieted down. When they were assigned to a previously quiet area, the Germans would attack with a bayonet charge or something smilar. Following several months in relatively static defensive positions, his company is quickly rounded up and sent to back up the 99th Inf. Division that had been counterattacked and mauled after they had attempted to take some dams to prevent their destruction. MacDonald's account of moving to the front in snow, setting up his men with not enough ammunition, the chaos and opacity of battle is simply amazing. ' "Which way's the enemy?" I asked [of the colonel:]" "I dunno. [he replied:] Nobody seems to know a goddamned thing. They say it's that way," and he motioned with one arm to the east.' The small military horizon of the company commander was striking. They maintained closest contact with companies on their flanks; some with Battalion, very little with Division, Corps is almost unimportant. Maps and map reading ability was crucial. The British had been given responsibility for mapping Europe; they were forced to use mostly WW I maps, but updated them with aerial reconnaissance whenever possible. The aerial map readers provided some astonishing information. They could recognize defensive positions by noticing darker grass. Dew would fall off barbed wire nourishing the grass underneath the wire more effectively hence making it more visible from the air. What's amazing to me is how well MacDonald did with his men, perhaps a tribute to the training he had received. The story is recounted in such a matter-of-fact way, that the day-to-day horrors somehow become that much more memorable for their ordinariness. Note: a really nice foldout map accompanies the History Book Club edition.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cold War Conversations Podcast

    Real life at the sharp end of World War 2. Written very shortly after hostilities ceased in that classic veteran’s matter of fact style, Macdonald takes us from the Siegfried Line in the Ardennes, through the Battle of the Bulge, and to the end of the war in the Czechoslovakia. However this is different from many memoirs in that he does mention atrocities, and the flaws in officers and men, although names are changed. This is not grand strategy, indeed grand strategy is an irrelevance where he and Real life at the sharp end of World War 2. Written very shortly after hostilities ceased in that classic veteran’s matter of fact style, Macdonald takes us from the Siegfried Line in the Ardennes, through the Battle of the Bulge, and to the end of the war in the Czechoslovakia. However this is different from many memoirs in that he does mention atrocities, and the flaws in officers and men, although names are changed. This is not grand strategy, indeed grand strategy is an irrelevance where he and his men are. Macdonald concentrates on the realities for a green junior officer in command of an infantry company, whilst coping with sleeplessness, hunger, dirt, stress, and danger. Apparently it is still required reading at West Point. It should also be required reading for any politician thinking of sending men & women to war. Originally published in 1947 and I’m again glad that Endeavour Press reprinted this classic in this digital edition.

  4. 4 out of 5

    JD

    Great World War 2 memoir by a young replacement company commander who has to lead battle-hardened men into battle and passes all his tests despite early self doubt. A real page turner that is not filled with the big strategies of battle, but just about young men fighting and surviving during the hard winter months of fighting on the Western Front in 1944/45.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    This book tells the author’s experiences in WWII. He begins his war in the autumn of 1944 as a young replacement captain assigned to command a veteran company. In the early days of his time on the line, he struggles to gain the respect of the men he commands and worries about how he will react to war. His unit spends time on the Siegfried Line, and participates in the Battle of the Bulge. After an injury, Mac is assigned to a new company and with the arrival of spring pushes into Germany and the This book tells the author’s experiences in WWII. He begins his war in the autumn of 1944 as a young replacement captain assigned to command a veteran company. In the early days of his time on the line, he struggles to gain the respect of the men he commands and worries about how he will react to war. His unit spends time on the Siegfried Line, and participates in the Battle of the Bulge. After an injury, Mac is assigned to a new company and with the arrival of spring pushes into Germany and then into Czechoslovakia, fighting until May of 1945. Mac’s perspective is an interesting one. He was usually near the front line but not in a foxhole. He saw more of the big-picture than the privates did, but was also much more aware than higher-ranking officers of the individual deaths each push brought. The account includes some tense moments, some sad moments, some funny moments, and the reminder that war is not easy on those who participate. The book drew me in from its preface, when the author says: “The characters in my story are not fictional, and any similarity between them and persons living or dead is intentional, and some of them are dead.” The ending, with Mac’s unit liberating areas of Czechoslovakia and receiving an enormously warm welcome from the people, was touching. I thought it was a great ending, until I remembered Czechoslovakia's status during the Cold War. For the people living there, having the US Army in town was probably the best week from 1938 until 1989. 4.5 stars, rounding up.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    I first read this book based upon the recommendation of a school friend way back in the early 80's. At the time I had never read a first person account of the war. Up to that point I had pored through my dad's old copy of the American Heritage Pictorial History of World War II which whetted my appetite for more on the subject. This was the book that opened the floodgates and led to me seeking out as many first person accounts as I could get my hands on. I have since read it several more times, b I first read this book based upon the recommendation of a school friend way back in the early 80's. At the time I had never read a first person account of the war. Up to that point I had pored through my dad's old copy of the American Heritage Pictorial History of World War II which whetted my appetite for more on the subject. This was the book that opened the floodgates and led to me seeking out as many first person accounts as I could get my hands on. I have since read it several more times, but not for many years. It is a good read, but doesn't seem to be quite on the level with other books like With The Old Breed, To Hell and Back and If You Survive, all of which I have continued to return to over the years. Nevertheless, this book holds a special place for me and someday I'll dig my old Bantam copy out and give it another read. I recently found this on the Amazon lending library and eagerly downloaded it to see if I liked it as much now as I did when I was younger. The short answer is "yes." MacDonald's writing style is excellent and easily read and his story compelling. He does a good job making the reader feel the stress and uncertainty of being a leader of men in combat. This book certainly deserves the good feelings I recalled from my youth. If I were to rate the books I mentioned in the above paragraph I would still rate Sledge's "With The Old Breed" as the best of the lot. This one is a close second followed by George Wilson's "If You Survive" and Murphy's "To Hell And Back." I recommend this book highly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Manray9

    The most dangerous job in combat is that of a junior officer leading infantry. MacDonald not only survived, he excelled. His "Company Commander" is a great first-hand account of World War II in western Europe.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jimmie Aaron Kepler

    Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. At just 21 years of age, Captain Charles B. MacDonald first commanded I Company, 3 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from October 1944 to January 1945 and later G Company, 2 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from March to May 1945. This memoir was written in 1947 when recollecti Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. At just 21 years of age, Captain Charles B. MacDonald first commanded I Company, 3 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from October 1944 to January 1945 and later G Company, 2 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from March to May 1945. This memoir was written in 1947 when recollections were still sharp. It resulted in a very detailed account of what it was like to take command of a line infantry company and lead it into battle. The book gives us template for writing a personal military memoir. It is by far the finest memoir of any junior officer in World War II. Charles MacDonald does a great job of keeping his focus on his own experiences. He does not speculate or waste my time by giving conjecture on the big picture. We only have first hand information from the events of his personal participation. He sticks to what life was like for a junior officer in command of an infantry company, sleepless, hungry, dirty, stressful, and very dangerous. He takes us from the Siegfried Line in the Ardennes, through the Battle of the Bulge, and to the end of the war in the Czechoslovakia. This book is a must-read for all army officers who seek to command at company-level and it is informative for military historians as well. It is still required reading at West Point and on the company level officer (second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain) recommended reading list by the U.S. Army today. Upon this book's publication in 1947, Charles B. MacDonald was invited to join the U.S. Army Center of Military History as a civilian historian, the start of a career during which he wrote three of the official histories of World War II in Europe and supervised the preparation of others. The book is simply the best. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler in June 2006.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Dawson

    What I enjoyed most was the frankness in the story. Captain MacDonald is sent to relieve the current CO of company on the Siegfried Line. He is informed that the last group who were quartered in the bunker were blasted out by a half-track German flamethrower. He vows to not let this happen to him and his men. His main concern is being a newly minted Captain, will the battle-weary veterans accept him into their confidence? After a few skirmishes and shellings, his fears subside. His unit is caugh What I enjoyed most was the frankness in the story. Captain MacDonald is sent to relieve the current CO of company on the Siegfried Line. He is informed that the last group who were quartered in the bunker were blasted out by a half-track German flamethrower. He vows to not let this happen to him and his men. His main concern is being a newly minted Captain, will the battle-weary veterans accept him into their confidence? After a few skirmishes and shellings, his fears subside. His unit is caught up in the Battle of the Bulge were his group is part of the hastily assembled force that thwarts the efforts of Deitrick’s Sixth Panzer Army from breathing through. I enjoyed this description as it only centered on their struggle rather than the grand strategy. The second part of the story follows Patton’s Third Army drive into Germany. Some might not enjoy the nonchalance of the treatment of German prisoners or lack thereof. Remember, these men were watching their bodies being killed by men who brought a lot of death and destruction to Europe. Many today would vilify their actions, but then, we weren’t there to judge them. His recounting of capturing Leipzig is great. How many would love to lay claim to accepting the surrender of Germany’s fifth largest city. At first he’s quit excited about the prospect, but as the negotiations drag on he decides, never again. A great addition to any WWII library. Five Stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Spencer (he, him.his)

    In 2013 I read it for the third time in about a decade and each reading has been well worth it. Rightfully designated a classic of combat memoirs, especially of junior officers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    No book from World War II can bring you the horror and futility of battle and fighting units pitched against each other amid shells and bursts of machine gun fire. In Company Commander however, I have read a piece of first hand writing from the heart of his awful conflict that seeks not to elevate heroics but document the fear, anxiety and daily struggle to go again. For the sense of excitement and the thrill of American GIs battling the Germans I remember a TV show from the 1960s - Combat. As an No book from World War II can bring you the horror and futility of battle and fighting units pitched against each other amid shells and bursts of machine gun fire. In Company Commander however, I have read a piece of first hand writing from the heart of his awful conflict that seeks not to elevate heroics but document the fear, anxiety and daily struggle to go again. For the sense of excitement and the thrill of American GIs battling the Germans I remember a TV show from the 1960s - Combat. As an adult Band of Brothers refined my childhood sense of glory as war as depicted in a more realistic and life threatening way. Charles B MacDonald’s memoir almost takes it back one stage. You see and learn first-hand about the young men who were thrown into action; led with doubts and unease conscious of the men in their command. Detailing the last days of the war following DDay and the breakout from Normandy it mainly focuses on the fear staking out the Siegfried Line and the constant struggle to overcome German forces who aware they had lost sometimes resisted fiercely and to the death and at times were glad to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russian Army. War is not glorified; the cost is measured while the purpose drove them forward without thought for themselves. There is humour and human interest stories but the sound of war is never far away and you sense no-one knew what the new day would bring. Friendly fire, a shell of a burst of aromatic fire could change or end your life. The grave like fox holes were a sanctuary as well as line you had to defend which could be overrun by an attack with overwhelming force. A book that gives perspective but nothing could furnish the vocabulary to express one’s gratitude to an earlier generation of brave men and women.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    Want a snippet of what it's like to command an American infantry company in the push from France into Germany during ww2? This may be the book for you. It's an autobiogrpahical account of Charles MacDonald, a newly minted captain with no combat experience who became a replacement commander for a battle hardened company and had to earn their trust and confidence. The company ended up in Czechoslovakia at wars end. Although at first this book didnt strongly appeal to me, I became more attached it Want a snippet of what it's like to command an American infantry company in the push from France into Germany during ww2? This may be the book for you. It's an autobiogrpahical account of Charles MacDonald, a newly minted captain with no combat experience who became a replacement commander for a battle hardened company and had to earn their trust and confidence. The company ended up in Czechoslovakia at wars end. Although at first this book didnt strongly appeal to me, I became more attached it to as its journey progressed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Purvis

    “Company Commander” eBook was published in 2015 (though the original paper publication was in 1947) and was written by Charles B. MacDonald (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...). Mr. MacDonald was the author of seven historical non-fiction books about World War II. This book is the story of his command of two infantry companies during the last year of the European campaign during World War II. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Endeavor Press. I categorize this no “Company Commander” eBook was published in 2015 (though the original paper publication was in 1947) and was written by Charles B. MacDonald (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...). Mr. MacDonald was the author of seven historical non-fiction books about World War II. This book is the story of his command of two infantry companies during the last year of the European campaign during World War II. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Endeavor Press. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains many scenes of Violence. This non-fiction history book tells the story of Captain Charles MacDonald and his command of companies G and I of the 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division, US Army. The book begins in October 1944 when MacDonald, then only 20 and already a Captain, is given command of I company. The story follows MacDonald as he leads his men against the Germans during the final days of World War II. His first combat assignment was holding a sector of the Siegfried Line. A few months later his unit was sent to block part of the German attack that became the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded during this action and after recovering was assigned command of G company. Finally, he led his company through Germany as the US Army drove the disintegrating German defense until the war ended. I enjoyed the 12+ hours I spent reading this 337 page book. It reminded me a lot of “Band of Brothers”. I would recommend it if you are interested in the history of WWII. I give this novel a 4 out of 5. Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at http://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I had to read this book for my university's American History class. My advice? Do not read this book unless you are in the military, or are really, really interested in it. This is in no way a "literary" kind of book. What I mean by that is this book reads more like a painfully detailed itinerary. MacDonald chronicles his every second of every day. In my opinion, he gave way too much information where it was unnecessary and not enough information where I wanted it. The best part of the book was t I had to read this book for my university's American History class. My advice? Do not read this book unless you are in the military, or are really, really interested in it. This is in no way a "literary" kind of book. What I mean by that is this book reads more like a painfully detailed itinerary. MacDonald chronicles his every second of every day. In my opinion, he gave way too much information where it was unnecessary and not enough information where I wanted it. The best part of the book was the dialogue, and as they were in the middle of war and battle, dialogue was seldom present. There was hardly any emotion in this book. Maybe this was to convey the numbness and coldness the war left him with, but I don't think so. On the rare occasion that MacDonald breached emotion, it was a fleeting, surface kind of emotion. The only time I really felt anything for him or any of the others was the final 3 or 4 pages--not enough to make up for the previous 270 bland ones. I’ve read other war books. Although they are not my favorite genre, I have enjoyed many of them. I can see how this book could be appealing to some people, but I do not think it is advisable for the average reader.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    For anyone who is a history buff, a biography lover, a military student and follower this is a must read. A live personal history of a U.S.Army Captain who was a Company Commander during World War II. It precisely names locations, cities, battles, men and units. You can get a book of the maps of Europe and follow by city and country and these units and men struggle with the fears of war across France, Belgium. the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge, across Germany until the end of the war, the For anyone who is a history buff, a biography lover, a military student and follower this is a must read. A live personal history of a U.S.Army Captain who was a Company Commander during World War II. It precisely names locations, cities, battles, men and units. You can get a book of the maps of Europe and follow by city and country and these units and men struggle with the fears of war across France, Belgium. the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge, across Germany until the end of the war, the personal struggles when they come to the realization that the war is over. The author Captain Charles B. McDonald wrote this book from his war notes and the book was published in 1947, it is still in print and a must read for historians, perhaps like me you had relatives who fought across the soil of Europe, I had a uncle who who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, another who was a Sherman tank Commander, eventually he commanded a Tank Destroyer and fought the Tiger Tanks. The author died in 1990.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt Mickletz

    Another amazing account of a WWII soldier. As the title notes the book follows a "company commander" through his everday experiences. I go into any first-person account book with caution, because frankly, even toughened vets can embelish a bit. MacDonald comes off as so genuine however, with what seem to be gleeming, honest accounts of being a replacement officer amoungst experienced men. He's detailed with the what's and how's, from the direction they headed to the terain and equipment, details Another amazing account of a WWII soldier. As the title notes the book follows a "company commander" through his everday experiences. I go into any first-person account book with caution, because frankly, even toughened vets can embelish a bit. MacDonald comes off as so genuine however, with what seem to be gleeming, honest accounts of being a replacement officer amoungst experienced men. He's detailed with the what's and how's, from the direction they headed to the terain and equipment, details I love.

  17. 4 out of 5

    john d chontos

    An excellent insight into the determination and courage of the common dog soldier in Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it's insights to the European war. My only complaint was the lack of maps. I had to Google maps while reading, because no one knew where these small towns and cities were in Europe.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David A Richardson

    A story of brave individuals. I find that this book has a level of reality not found in so many others. Those that seek to describe the war at the "strategic" level miss the most fundamental issue which is that it was in fact the effort of individuals that allowed the allies to win and to provide the opportunity of freedom.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Kisch

    Great work Excellent description of the incredible job by young soldiers who fought our nation' wars yesterday and today. A real tribute to all who served in our great nation' military.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    Book was OK. Not as good as "With the Old Breed" which is a much better Military classic.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Good book. Well worth the effort to track it down.

  22. 4 out of 5

    richard barron

    Eye opening Such a unique view on a truly remarkable time. If you have any interest in history this is a must read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gerhard Venter

    Very well written, an excellent "What was it like?" for the Battle of the Bulge.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Lowe

    A Five Star, Must Read Account of Combat Curing the Second World War!!! "Company Commander" is the personal memoir of 20 year old Captain Charles MacDonald's wartime experiences while serving as Commander Officer (CO) of I and latter G Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, US Army during the final year of World War Two (WW 2). The author's account spans three distinct periods in the Allied campaigns against Germany in 1944-45: The American penetration of the Siegfried Line on the western A Five Star, Must Read Account of Combat Curing the Second World War!!! "Company Commander" is the personal memoir of 20 year old Captain Charles MacDonald's wartime experiences while serving as Commander Officer (CO) of I and latter G Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, US Army during the final year of World War Two (WW 2). The author's account spans three distinct periods in the Allied campaigns against Germany in 1944-45: The American penetration of the Siegfried Line on the western borders of Germany, the Battle of the Bulge, and the final offensives leading to the collapse of German forces in the West. This book is unlike any other combat account I have read, because the author leaves out all background information about himself prior to reporting for duty as CO of I Company. Where he was born and raised, what his civilian life was, his education, prior Army training, or how he became a Captain at 20 years old, are not provided. It's as if that information is irrelavant. Instead this book is about war and "the men who fought the war". The strength of this book is centered on how clearly the author describes the uncomfortable, debilitating, terrifying and dangerous daily routine of an infantrymen. The author is adept at capturing the heavy atmosphere of fear and constant danger of death that over lays the soldiers lives every momement of every day. This combined with the terrible environmental condiiions, such as freezing temperatures, snow, rain, mud, biting insects, lack of bathing facilities, and the like multiplies the horrendous conditions that are a matter of fact every moment in the soldiers consttant struggle to perform their duties. MacDonald's descriptions of combat are unequaled in my experience. The suddenness in the way a mundane activity such as, walking down a road, can turn into a life or death situation because of an artilary bombardment or ambush grabs the reader's attention much as if you were a participant in the action. I strongly recommend that all adults read this book! As a citizen of a country that frequently sends our soldiers into harms way we owe it to them to have a full understanding of what we are demanding them to do. This book will provide that understanding! This is a true Five Star read!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    In September, 1944, a tall skinny replacement Captain joined the US Army's 23rd Regiment, part of the 2nd Division in America's push in Europe in WWII. Although D-Day and "the breakout" had already occurred, he would have a front-line position , as commander of I Company, and then G company, for the Europe campaign, from before the Battle of the Bulge to the end of hostilities in the Czech republic in April 1945. Charles Macdonald's book is a classic of frontline memoirs, and deservedly so. Sitti In September, 1944, a tall skinny replacement Captain joined the US Army's 23rd Regiment, part of the 2nd Division in America's push in Europe in WWII. Although D-Day and "the breakout" had already occurred, he would have a front-line position , as commander of I Company, and then G company, for the Europe campaign, from before the Battle of the Bulge to the end of hostilities in the Czech republic in April 1945. Charles Macdonald's book is a classic of frontline memoirs, and deservedly so. Sitting on an "average" Company Commander's shoulder as he processes the greatest war man has ever known, is an amazing vantage point to understand the war. The sense of service and pride that a line officer has in his men and their unit comes through again and again, even as the realities of warfare sometimes mean his pride is misplaced. Macdonald is a wry and clear witness to the vagaries or war. The simplicity of the prose and the clarity of the passages make this a good book for the junior reader who is ready to handle small unit command and concerns. Gamers/Modellers/ Military Enthusiasts will find a gem on every new page, as the focus is almost perfect for Flames of War/Bolt Action/Chain of Command players to construct a plethora of scenarios. Diorama guys will also have a lot of fodder. But this is a classic- and deserves reading by all.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Lybrand

    This is a very good first had account of small unit leadership and combat. The author was a company commander in Europe in 1945. He wrote this book back in 1947, but it still seems applicable today. What is unique about the book is that it's World War II from the lowest level. There are no generals or strategy discussions. Just the officers and men that have to implement those strategies with tactics on the ground. Another thing I liked was learning some of the details of how the men got through This is a very good first had account of small unit leadership and combat. The author was a company commander in Europe in 1945. He wrote this book back in 1947, but it still seems applicable today. What is unique about the book is that it's World War II from the lowest level. There are no generals or strategy discussions. Just the officers and men that have to implement those strategies with tactics on the ground. Another thing I liked was learning some of the details of how the men got through the war. It covers things like going on the attack while your platoon leader is on leave, officer's getting a liquor allotment and the process of evacuating casualties and then returning them to the front. Be warned that there is a lot of military jargon, and lots of pages devoted to plans and movement. That might not interest the casual reader. However, if you want to get the down and dirty details from the perspective of a small unit leader, then you will enjoy it, and I recommended it for anyone interested in the details of small unit combat in WWII.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Having read a number of books on the second world war I wanted to read an actual first hand account of what it was like on the front line; Reading "Company Commander" seemed like a good place to start. As this is the first, first hand account I have read I don't really have anything to compare it against therefore its slightly difficult to know how good it actually is. As a memoir there is a huge amount of fascinating information and events captured here. Charles had an amazing memory of what happ Having read a number of books on the second world war I wanted to read an actual first hand account of what it was like on the front line; Reading "Company Commander" seemed like a good place to start. As this is the first, first hand account I have read I don't really have anything to compare it against therefore its slightly difficult to know how good it actually is. As a memoir there is a huge amount of fascinating information and events captured here. Charles had an amazing memory of what happens when, and where. You can even follow on Google Maps his journey through Europe as he identifies every village and town he goes through and what they encountered. You also get a pretty good idea as to the tiredness, hunger, confusion, and fear of encountering enemy soldiers. As he becomes more experienced and battle hardened, the fear seems to decrease slightly and acceptance of death around him maybe has less effect. Yes it is an interesting read, but I'm only giving it 3 stars as the writing is somewhat monotonous and the descriptions of events can be very hard to follow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dave Wallace

    Outstanding, ranks up at the top of European theater personal memoirs with Robert Kauffman's The Replacement for honesty and attention to detail, this is very hard to match. The most uncomfortable bits match what I have been personally told by a Bulge survivor. Book-ending the story arc are the Ardennes before the storm and the collapse in The Sudetenland. The flux of this latter I found even more interesting. Between these are descriptions of everything from being evacuated after being wounded, Outstanding, ranks up at the top of European theater personal memoirs with Robert Kauffman's The Replacement for honesty and attention to detail, this is very hard to match. The most uncomfortable bits match what I have been personally told by a Bulge survivor. Book-ending the story arc are the Ardennes before the storm and the collapse in The Sudetenland. The flux of this latter I found even more interesting. Between these are descriptions of everything from being evacuated after being wounded, to little company G almost accepting Leipzig's surrender in a scene from a bad movie. Much explanation of company level operations which are clear enough for most to follow easily. The book came with something I have never seen, a separate map packet (addressing a pet peeve of mine) these were very good.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gerhard Venter

    This book's disclaimer is not the usual stuff. "The characters in my story are not fictional, and any similarity between them and persons living or dead is intentional, and some of them are dead.” This book is not about gods and generals, about the childhood of the protagonist (author), or about the broad sweep of the great war effort in Europe. It's about a small group of combat infantry soldiers, hungry, tired, cold, and scared. A tiny wedge of human flesh at the spear point of the Allied thrus This book's disclaimer is not the usual stuff. "The characters in my story are not fictional, and any similarity between them and persons living or dead is intentional, and some of them are dead.” This book is not about gods and generals, about the childhood of the protagonist (author), or about the broad sweep of the great war effort in Europe. It's about a small group of combat infantry soldiers, hungry, tired, cold, and scared. A tiny wedge of human flesh at the spear point of the Allied thrust. If you want to be "in the trenches" for a while, and not at the general's map table, this is the book for you. A huge plus is that the book is very well written, just like all the rest of MacDonald's other books. I read Company Commander as part of my small group tactics reading program.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jack Hwang

    This war classic is as real as it can be. The author was fortunate that he was not continuously in the heats of combat. When he took command of his first rifle company, he was at a relatively "quiet" sector of the west front during a comparatively "quiet" time. Although his company had taken a severe blow at the beginning of the Battle of Bulge, they were not molested for almost a month till he got hurt. After healing and returning to the front to command a new company, it was the closing month o This war classic is as real as it can be. The author was fortunate that he was not continuously in the heats of combat. When he took command of his first rifle company, he was at a relatively "quiet" sector of the west front during a comparatively "quiet" time. Although his company had taken a severe blow at the beginning of the Battle of Bulge, they were not molested for almost a month till he got hurt. After healing and returning to the front to command a new company, it was the closing month of the WW2 in Europe. I also feel that the author is somewhat detached to his officers and soldiers. That's understandable since he was just a replacement company commander for the two companies under him. He was afraid of his own failure but somehow kept a distance to men he commanded.

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