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Alvin C. York (1887--1964) -- devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I -- is one of America's most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne regi Alvin C. York (1887--1964) -- devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I -- is one of America's most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne region of France -- a deed for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. At war's end, the media glorified York's bravery but some members of the German military and a soldier from his own unit cast aspersions on his wartime heroics. Historians continue to debate whether York has received more recognition than he deserves. A fierce disagreement about the location of the battle in the Argonne forest has further complicated the soldier's legacy. In Alvin York, Douglas V. Mastriano sorts fact from myth in the first full-length biography of York in decades. He meticulously examines York's youth in the hills of east Tennessee, his service in the Great War, and his return to a quiet civilian life dedicated to charity. By reviewing artifacts recovered from the battlefield using military terrain analysis, forensic study, and research in both German and American archives, Mastriano reconstructs the events of October 8 and corroborates the recorded accounts. On the eve of the WWI centennial, Alvin York promises to be a major contribution to twentieth-century military history.


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Alvin C. York (1887--1964) -- devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I -- is one of America's most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne regi Alvin C. York (1887--1964) -- devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I -- is one of America's most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne region of France -- a deed for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. At war's end, the media glorified York's bravery but some members of the German military and a soldier from his own unit cast aspersions on his wartime heroics. Historians continue to debate whether York has received more recognition than he deserves. A fierce disagreement about the location of the battle in the Argonne forest has further complicated the soldier's legacy. In Alvin York, Douglas V. Mastriano sorts fact from myth in the first full-length biography of York in decades. He meticulously examines York's youth in the hills of east Tennessee, his service in the Great War, and his return to a quiet civilian life dedicated to charity. By reviewing artifacts recovered from the battlefield using military terrain analysis, forensic study, and research in both German and American archives, Mastriano reconstructs the events of October 8 and corroborates the recorded accounts. On the eve of the WWI centennial, Alvin York promises to be a major contribution to twentieth-century military history.

30 review for Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sweetwilliam

    What Alvin York did was truly incredible. He was able to get behind German lines with 16 other members of the 82nd All-American Division and outflank some German-machine gun nests that were firing directly to the Division’s front, impeding the general advance. Armed with his 1917 Enfield 30-06 bolt action rifle and a Colt 1911 .45 Automatic Colt Pistol, York was able to kill 20-25 of the enemy and capture four officers and 128 enlisted men. With several men of his detachment dead or wounded (I t What Alvin York did was truly incredible. He was able to get behind German lines with 16 other members of the 82nd All-American Division and outflank some German-machine gun nests that were firing directly to the Division’s front, impeding the general advance. Armed with his 1917 Enfield 30-06 bolt action rifle and a Colt 1911 .45 Automatic Colt Pistol, York was able to kill 20-25 of the enemy and capture four officers and 128 enlisted men. With several men of his detachment dead or wounded (I think York and only 6 others were standing at the time), York charged ahead of the detachment and attacked the machine-gun nest. He exhausted his 30-06 rifle ammunition extinguishing the machine gun and supporting infantry. After this, York was able to stop a German bayonet charge with his 1911 pistol shooting the Germans from back to front as they charged. He said he did this like he was shooting Turkeys back in Pall Mall. While writing this review I came to the following realization: York’s feat was accomplished because of his outstanding marksmanship. This was possible due to his rural upbringing that included hunting and shooting for sport since he was seven years old. This is an advantage that Americans have enjoyed over other countries since our inception. The 2nd Amendment has provided a landscape where the development of such marksmanship, like York’s, has been made possible. The colonists could outshoot redcoats, the Americans could outshoot the Mexican’s; Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia could outshoot the city-dwelling Yankees, and the decedents of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would outshoot their adversaries in the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and all engagements leading to the American Sniper, Chris Kyle, in Iraq. After completing Marine Basic Rifle Marksmanship training, I saw firsthand that marksmanship talents - like our forefather’s - cannot be taught in a mere two weeks at the range. Part of America’s superior marksmanship is made possible by the beloved second-amendment. This is an advantage that Americans have over the “subjects” from the “gun-grabbing” countries that we face in opposition. The All-American Division contained many recent immigrants who were fan-fires that couldn’t even hit the backstop. York said in his backwoods accent that all they could hit was air. York’s officers recognized his talent and he was ordered to help teach marksmanship to his own unit during the time he was supposed to be receiving his own training. This has to be unprecedented. The final chapters of the book were some of the most interesting. York refused to profit off the uniform saying that his fame was not for sale. He raised funds to build a school for the Pall Mall region. He later raised funds for a bible school as well. York was an outspoken opponent of the isolationist movement in the United States led by Senator Nye and others including Charles Lindbergh. York realized the dangers brewing in Asia and Europe and he was a proponent of rearmament and preparation for what he felt was inevitable. He finally agreed to a movie deal because he needed to raise money for one of the schools he was building. The movie debut was just a few months prior to Pearl Harbor and it turned out to be a huge success and pretty true to form with a few exceptions that were noted in the book. In fact, the movie was such a box office success that the IRS decided that York should pay some hefty back taxes. York was about to lose his farm. Just when the evil IRS was about to do what the Germans could not, there was a tremendous public outcry in support of York because, after all, he donated most of the proceeds to the bible school he was building. At the last moment, the wicked and evil, evil IRS backed off. In the final chapter the author returns to the Argonne Forest to gather forensic evidence with metal detectors and to conduct an archeological dig to find the true site of York’s heroic deed. He was aided by one of the archeologists who did the same thing on the Custer-Little Bighorn Battlefield a few years prior (see Richard Fox’s Archaeology, History, and Custer’s Last Battle). Monuments were erected to preserve the site. The world needs more men like Alvin York. Read the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    A well researched biography supported by new research at the site of the 8 October 1918 battle. The story begins describing York's home in the isolated hills of Tennessee, his family, youth, hell-raising years as a young man, and ultimate conversion as a born-again Christian. One of the main themes of the book and of York's life is his adherence to his Christian faith. As the U.S. began a military draft York was denied a deferment as a conscientious objector. After entering the Army he discussed A well researched biography supported by new research at the site of the 8 October 1918 battle. The story begins describing York's home in the isolated hills of Tennessee, his family, youth, hell-raising years as a young man, and ultimate conversion as a born-again Christian. One of the main themes of the book and of York's life is his adherence to his Christian faith. As the U.S. began a military draft York was denied a deferment as a conscientious objector. After entering the Army he discussed with his commanders his concerns that killing was against his religion. While on leave during his Army training “Alvin headed up the lonely mountain with his hunting dogs to make his decision [whether or not to fight]. After thirty-six hours of fasting and praying, calm settled upon his tortured soul. Alvin said that he was visited by the presence of God, who filled him with a 'peace ..., which passeth all understanding.' Gone was the doubt, and he came down that mountain full of assurance, saying to his mother, 'I am going to war with the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. ... I have received my assurance. I have received it from God himself—that it's right for me to go to war, and that as long as I believe in Him, not one hair of my head will be harmed.' With this confidence, York returned to Camp Gordon a new man and ready spiritually for what lay ahead.” The author explains Field Marshall Foch's 'en echelon attack' strategy involving a series of four massive assaults spanning two hundred miles of the front. The plan was led off with the 26 September 1918 American “Meuse-Argonne Offensive” designed to draw down the German’s strategic reserves weakening the line where the later Canadian, Belgian, and Franco-British assaults would follow. The German's would have to use their reserves to reinforce the Argonne due to its relative lack of depth (11.2 miles). As it turned out, success of the Meuse-Argonne battle turned on the actions of three individuals: Major Charles Whittlesey leading the “Lost Battalion”, Lieutenant Sam Woodfill in the Meuse Valley, and Corporal Alvin York in the Argonne Forest. Here are quotes recounting key events of the Argonne attack on 8 October 1918 that made York famous: “The burden of command in the middle fell to [Platoon Sergeant] Parsons. He moved about checking his men and surmised the situation. As the Americans had attacked to the northwest, the left flank was being racked by German machine guns from the large hill in the center of the valley. Seeing this, Parsons saw that the center hill that the Germans often referred to Humserberg was his biggest problem and that the machine guns on that specific hill had to be taken out... Parsons ordered Early, Cutting, York, and Savage to lead their squads to take out the German machine guns on the center hill. Corporal Early was serving as acting sergeant and was in charge of these four squads, with Cutting, York, and Savage being his other noncommissioned officers. Two men from this element had already fallen in combat, leaving seventeen soldiers to make the flank attack that would decide the outcome of the day's battle... Early surveyed the ground as the squad leaders gathered their men in the midst of German artillery that was now falling upon them. Directly south, Early saw a deep, natural notch cut into the ridge and determined that this was the best place to attempt the flanking maneuver. However, moving the men in a parallel direction under German machine gunners across exposed ground would be difficult—if not impossible—to accomplish. As the group of seventeen began their sprint for the southern hill, suddenly a barrage of artillery erupted near them. It was the belated American artillery support, and at that moment it was actually rolling across the southern ridgeline where the seventeen Americans were attempting to move. This artillery fire was exploding upon the German 2nd Wurttemberg Machine Gun Company, which was deployed there. The timing of the barrage caused the German gunners to seek cover just at the moment when the seventeen Americans were in their sights. Because of this, all seventeen of the Americans made it up the hill unseen and unhurt.” As the Americans flanked the enemy, they surprised Leutnant Paul Vollmer's battalion headquarters. “Everything occurred so quickly that both Vollmer and the 210th Regiment's soldiers believed that this was a larger surprise attack launched by the Americans, not just a patrol of seventeen soldiers. Bernie Early ordered his men to quickly search the seventy prisoners, line them up, and get ready to move. It was a chaotic situation. Around the seventeen Americans there were the sounds of war—from the valley to the east and the hills in front and behind them—as German gunners fired upon their brothers at arms in the death trap less than half a mile away. While the Americans were busy getting the prisoners in order, the 4th and 6th Companies of the 125th Wurttemberg Landwehr Regiment on Humserberg, the hill just above the American patrol, realized that there was trouble below. A crew of German machine gunners under the command of Leutnant Paul Lipp were directly above Vollmer's headquarters and had been firing to the east, into the diminishing ranks of the besieged American battalion. On seeing the capture of their countrymen below, the machine gun's crewmen yelled and signaled to the captured Germans to lie down. As soon as that happened, the Wiirttembergers opened fire. The hail of bullets killed six of the seventeen Americans and wounded three more... The remaining eight soldiers still able to fight included Corporal Alvin York (the only NCO left standing) and Privates Beardsley, Donohue, Johnson, Kornacki, Sacina, Sok, and Wills... Bernie Early was severely injured by five bullets that had ripped into his body... The worst was Corporal Murray Savage, York's close friend, who was shot to pieces. His body and clothes were spread across the meadow in a heap of bloody shreds. York was shocked and dismayed to see the remains of the person he most cared about in the army. Whatever misgivings York had about fighting vanished upon seeing the death of Savage. Being the only noncommissioned officer not dead or wounded, and with the burden of command now upon him, York determined to stop the killing. After taking a quick analysis of the situation, Alvin seized the initiative. According to the account on his Congressional Medal of Honor citation, 'He charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon.' The seven other American survivors provided covering fires for Alvin anytime he moved, with Beardsley shooting his Chauchat in support. Most of the American survivors said that the positions that they ended up in after the German machine gun opened fire prevented them from doing much to aid Alvin's assault other than keeping watch over the prisoners. To eliminate the machine gun that was causing so much death, York charged partly up Humserberg and crossed a German supply road that was about 160 yards above the meadow. He took a prone shooting position just above this road. What York saw about fifty yards to the west were groups of German soldiers occupying two sunken roads that ran above and parallel with the supply road he had just crossed. York's position was the tip of a 'V' where the two ancient sunken roads converged. From here Alvin had clear lines of sight up both roads and opened fire, killing the machine gun crew and its supporting riflemen, a total of nineteen Germans. He had fired nearly all of the rifle bullets from his front belt pouches in this engagement, some forty-six rounds. In an unusual coolness of mind, he frequently yelled to the Germans to surrender so that he would not kill more than he had to. His squadmates could hear him demanding their surrender in the meadow below. In spite of this, the Germans were oblivious to his presence and perished as a result... Taking advantage of the lull, York wheeled about to make his way back to the meadow to his men and the prisoners. As York came down the hill, he passed behind the border trench occupied by Leutnant Fritz Endriss and part of his platoon. Endriss saw York running down the hill and ordered his men to prepare for a bayonet attack. With bayonets fixed and ready, Endriss led the attack and charged out of the trench toward York. Twelve soldiers followed dutifully, but they had no idea against whom they were charging. As far as they were concerned, the battle was to the east, not the west. But they nonetheless followed Endriss. Seeing this, York slid on his side, dropped his rifle, and pulled out his M1911 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP). Each magazine in this weapon held seven rounds. York stopped adjacent to Private Beardsley, who also had his own .45 ACP and fired in support of York against the bayonet attack. York used a hunting skill he had learned when faced with a flock of turkeys. He picked off the advancing foes from back to front. The logic behind this was that if the lead Germans fell, the trailing Germans would seek cover and be all the more difficult to kill. As Germans fell, several of the other attackers broke off and headed back to the trench. By now, half of the charging soldiers were dead. Right next to York, and unbeknownst to him, Private Beardsley was also firing into the German throng. Between the two, there was no way that this bayonet attack would succeed... There were now twenty-five dead Germans across the side of the hill.” York and his platoon ultimately walked out with 132 German prisoners. “York and his platoon frustrated the German plan... This cleared the American front and left flank and caused the Germans to abandon more than thirty machine guns, which were recovered there after the battle. Because of this, the 2nd Battalion, 328th Infantry Regiment, was able to resume the attack. They continued up the valley to reach their objective, the Decauville Railroad and the North-South Road. This placed the flanks of the 120th and 125 Landwehr Regiments at risk. The German line was broken, and the 120th Landwehr would never recover from the loss.” The German's were forced to withdraw from the Argonne Forest. “Finally, after being in the line continuously since 7 October, the 82nd Infantry Division was relieved. York's unit was the last out. Through the last night they had to conduct aggressive patrols forward of the lines to prevent the Germans from gathering intelligence that the American 80th 'Blue Ridge' Division was conducting a relief in place of the 82nd. At 1:00 a.m., 1 November, York and his men came out of the line and began a long and dark walk to a rest area in the Argonne. All of the men who came out of the Argonne with him on 8 October also came out alive with him on 1 November... The units in the line paid a heavy price. York's regiment lost 30 percent of its men, 1,189 soldiers.” The Army initiated an investigation in February 1919 to determine if Alvin York was deserving of a Medal of Honor. “Toward the end of the investigation Brigadier General Lindsey asked, 'York, how did you do it?' To which Alvin answered, 'It was not man-power but it was divine power that saved me.' York told Lindsey that 'before I went to war I prayed to God and He done gave me my assurance that so long as I believed in Him not one hair of my head would be harmed; and even in front of them-there machine guns He knowed I believed in Him.' Lindsey, moved by York's comments, put his arms around York's shoulders and said in a low voice, 'York, you are right.' York's regimental commander, Colonel Richard Wetherill, agreed with York's belief that this was an act of divine intervention, and not luck, or skill, when he said to Alvin during the tour of the battleground, 'It is not human to do what you have done.' Even [Saturday Evening Post reporter] George Pattullo was astounded by what he saw and heard. This seasoned reporter could not come up with a rational way to explain how York got out of the fight alive. Pattullo later wrote of their visit to the battlefield: 'At last I said, I cannot understand, even now, how any of you came out alive.' York replied, simply but earnestly, 'We know there were miracles, don't we? Well, this was one. I was taken care of—it's the only way I can figure it.' The officers on the investigation team discussed various temporal explanations of how York accomplished the feat. Some suggested that it was luck, being the right man in the right place, while others commented that as mountain man York had the skills to accomplish such a deed. Alvin patiently listened to their speculations, but flatly rejected each one, saying: 'There had to be something more than man power in that fight to save me. There can't no man in the world make me believe there weren't. And I'm a-telling you the hand of God must have been in that fight. It surely must have been divine power that brought me out. No other power under heaven could save a man in a place like that. Men were killed on both sides of me and all around me and I was the biggest and the most exposed of all. I have got only one explanation to offer, and only one: without the help of God I jes couldn't have done it.... There can be no arguments about that. I am not going to believe different as long as I live.'”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    Initally a little heavy on agenda (It's clear that the author sets out with a bias in favor of York, perhaps to be expected when one is writing a book about the guy, but still.) with an Association of the US Army seal of approval right in the front, the book nevertheles uses a wealth of primary sources (many from York himself), forensic evidence and research to present a solid picture of Alvin York. If you are not a detractor of York's story or his subsequent actions or character, then this book Initally a little heavy on agenda (It's clear that the author sets out with a bias in favor of York, perhaps to be expected when one is writing a book about the guy, but still.) with an Association of the US Army seal of approval right in the front, the book nevertheles uses a wealth of primary sources (many from York himself), forensic evidence and research to present a solid picture of Alvin York. If you are not a detractor of York's story or his subsequent actions or character, then this book is an affirmation that changes nothing. If you need to be convinced or simply enjoy "pivotal event" type biographies, then this book is for you. Be advised; it's short. There are only 216 pages of text, which is followed by over 100 subsequent pages of acknowledgment, bibliography, notes, and index. While this is important for anything with aspirations toward being a scholarly text, much of this was also interesting to go through, but might not be for every reader.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Excellent biography of the life of Alvin York. York was raised in a poor country area in Tennessee. He became a conscientious objector to war due to his Christian faith. He later got drafted in the Army and fought in the Argonne Forest during World War I. He became a hero when he killed 20 Germans when he and his men stormed a German machine gun nest. For his heroism, He won the Medal of Honor and other awards.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    Really doesn't tell you much more than the movie with Gary Cooper. And when are these right wing types going to write a biography of Henry Johnson, the African American who won the Croix De Guerre?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano is the newest biography of York and will, I am sure, be the definite resource on him for years to come. Alvin York was the third of eleven children born to a farming family in Pall Mall, TN in the late 1800s. The children had very little education because they were needed to help at home. Alvin was the oldest child at home when his father died, so he took on the responsibility to care for the family. He was a hard work Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano is the newest biography of York and will, I am sure, be the definite resource on him for years to come. Alvin York was the third of eleven children born to a farming family in Pall Mall, TN in the late 1800s. The children had very little education because they were needed to help at home. Alvin was the oldest child at home when his father died, so he took on the responsibility to care for the family. He was a hard worker, but he was prone to drinking and fighting even though he was a church-goer. In his late twenties he was saved at a revival service in his church, and his life turned around. When Alvin was drafted at the age of 29, he tried to register as a conscientious objector. He believed, as did his church, that “Thou shalt not kill” included war. His application and an appeal were rejected because the church did not have an official policy against war. Once in the Army, Alvin kept his feelings quiet as long as he could because he knew the taunts and accusations of cowardice he would receive from the other men. Finally he told his superior officers, Captain Danforth and Major Buxton. He had proved himself as a hard worker and a steady character, so both officers felt he was in earnest. Both were Christians, and one suggested they talk it out not as private and officers, but as Christian brethren. In a thoroughly cordial conversation, Alvin brought up verses that seemed to oppose military action while the others brought up verses that support it. Alvin asked for a leave to think and pray and went home for ten days. After a considerable time at a particular mountain where he liked to go and pray, he went back to the Army at peace about being a soldier. On October 8, 1918, Alvin, a corporal at this point, fought the Germans with his battalion in the Argonne forest in France. They were fired at by a German machine gun. Of the seventeen Americans, six were killed and three were wounded. York was the ranking officer left standing. York, a crack shot from years of hunting, took out the machine gun operator, six Germans coming at him with bayonets, and ended up capturing 132 German soldiers as prisoners of war. Later he was promoted to sergeant and was awarded the Medal of Honor. When York came home to fame and acclaim, he did not want to make a profit off his service. “This uniform ain’t for sale,” he would say. York returned to his farm in TN and married the girl who had waited for him, Gracie. With his eyes opened from his travel and experience, York wanted to make improvements for his people. He advocated for paved roads into the area and built schools. He accepted invitations to encourage troops and the war effort and to talk about his faith, but he didn’t like to talk about his exploits, which was what most people wanted to hear. He only relented when doing so might help earn money for the schools he was building: he never profited from such money for himself. Jesse Lasky was a movie producer who pursued York for 23 years, trying to get the rights to his story to make a film. When events were steaming up before WWII, York was one of the advocates for the US entering the fray. He felt Hitler needed to be stopped, as soon as possible. Many Americans, including influential ones like Charles Lindbergh, felt that the US should stay out of the fighting. Lasky finally convinced York that a film about his life would not only help young men who faced some of the same struggles he had, but it would inspire patriotism that would help support the WWII effort. York agreed and used the proceeds to fund an interdenominational Bible school. The film Sergeant York was Lasky’s most successful film, earning Gary Cooper an Academy Award for his portrayal of York. I enjoyed reading some of the background information about the film and the differences between the film and real life. Some of York’s most inspiring words were spoken at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, May 1941: There are those in our country who ask me…”You fought to make the world safe for Democracy. What did it get you?” Let me answer them now. It got me twenty-three years of living in an America where humble citizens from the mountains of Tennessee can participate in the same ceremonies with the president of the United States. It got me twenty-three years of living in a country where liberty is stamped on men’s hearts. By our victory in the last war, we won a lease on liberty, not a deed to it. Now after 23 years, Adolf Hitler tells us that lease is expiring, and after the manner of all leases, we have the privilege of renewing it, or letting it go by default….we are standing at the crossroads of history. Important capitols of the world will either be Berlin and Moscow or Washington and London. I for one pref Congress and Parliament to Hitler’s Reichstag and Stalin’s Kremlin. And because we were for a time side by side, I know this unknown soldier does too. We owe it to him to renew that lease of liberty he helped us to get. I’m surprised that the concept of having a lease on liberty, which has to be renewed from time to time, rather than a deed, has not been quoted more often. Mastriano goes into detail concerning York’s early life in Pall Mall, his struggles, his service, and the events in his life after the war. Some stories in York’s time exaggerated his efforts, claiming that his victory was single-handed, or at least nearly so. Neither York nor the Army made these claims, and York credited the other soldiers for their efforts and ultimately God for His enabling and protection. But the attention on him caused pushback from others. Some thought he seemed too good to be true and suggested his exploits were created or exaggerated by the military for propaganda purposes. Mastriano, a military man himself, takes great care to detail and substantiate everything concerning York. His efforts even extended to traveling to France and making an extensive search over the area where York fought on October 8, 1918. Even though the location and details were substantiated before York’s Medal of Honor, some have argued that the lack of the known spot where York fought raised a question mark over the validity of the claims made in his behalf. A wrong map that was discredited yet still placed in the archives contributed further confusion. Mastriano spent twelve years and thousands of hours researching York, traveling, and even searching for artifacts in the Argonne. His findings were scientifically studied and authenticated, resulting in the Sergeant York Historic Trail and Monument. Though I have never seen the Sergeant York film, I had heard of it and was aware of the barest details of York’s story. My interest was piqued by hearing a series on York on the Adventures in Odyssey radio program, which I like to listen to while doing dishes. When I searched for a biography, I was delighted to find this one. I listened to the audiobook, but if I had been thinking, I would have gotten the print version for the pictures and maps and such. Usually when you purchase a book from Audible, you can get the Kindle version at a lesser price, but the Kindle version of this book is the most expensive I have ever seen. I just now found it in our library system, so I’ll look for it next time I go there. York’s is an inspiring story not just for his military victory, but for his character. I’m happy to have read and learned more about him.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gary Willprecht

    An interesting book on life of Alvin York, his dilemma following his Christian beliefs while fighting in WW I. How does any Christian adhere to - "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and yet "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s"? The world needs more Alvin York's in this day and age. A man of great faith, a man of moral principles and good character. I feel many of the youth of our country would benefit from reading this book. It would help them understand true hardship and relying on An interesting book on life of Alvin York, his dilemma following his Christian beliefs while fighting in WW I. How does any Christian adhere to - "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and yet "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s"? The world needs more Alvin York's in this day and age. A man of great faith, a man of moral principles and good character. I feel many of the youth of our country would benefit from reading this book. It would help them understand true hardship and relying on your FAITH in God to bring you through those times of trouble. You'll read or hear (audiobook) about taking the wrong path in life, many times a destructive path. God has ways of bringing us back to him, putting new faces in our lives to support us in our pathway toward him. There are good lessons in this book for everyone. Audiobook coming in Sept 2015.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A thoroughly researched, well-written biography of the Tennessean who became the most highly decorated American soldier who served in the Great War. The author does an excellent job dispelling several myths and misunderstandings about York.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano is a very interesting account of the life of this man, of what happened on the battlefield in World War 1 that elevated York, a former pacifist, to fame. Alvin York was born into what became a large family, the third of eleven children (the family lived in a one room cabin on a farm by the way!). His two older brothers where married and had farms of their own when his father died and so York became the head of the f Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano is a very interesting account of the life of this man, of what happened on the battlefield in World War 1 that elevated York, a former pacifist, to fame. Alvin York was born into what became a large family, the third of eleven children (the family lived in a one room cabin on a farm by the way!). His two older brothers where married and had farms of their own when his father died and so York became the head of the family. After this, despite having been born into a Christian family, York went downhill morally and became a heavy drinker and a gambler, and of course, associated with bad people. He acknowledged that his sins started small and then these things became controllers of his life. Change came when York became a Christian and actively put away and resisted his old habits, he truly became a "new creation", a new person. When war broke out between the United States and Germany in 1917, Alvin York faced the strong possibility of being drafted. He had become a pacifist by this time, struggling to reconcile His new found life in service to God and passages in the Bible that he thought indicated that Christians should not physically fight and kill other people, even under the authorization of their own government. He appealed for exemption from military service, but his appeal was denied and he was called up to serve. Alvin's pastor encouraged him to trust God in all of this, and Alvin obeyed the draft summons and joined the army. I thought that it was neat to see his acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God in all of this, making sure to be obedient and serve well in this place where God had placed him, even though to be there was against his own will. Still burdened in conscience about killing other people, York finally approached his commanding officer with his concerns, which officer brought him to another officer, and both of them graciously discussed what the Scripture had to say on the subject, York quoting Scriptures that he thought supported pacifism, and the officers bringing him to Scriptures that indicated that the Bible was not against war. He ended up becoming convinced that it was okay for him to go to war, though perhaps still having some struggles with doubts for a little while afterward. And so York stays in the fighting of the section of the army, and ends up making the famous capture of 132 German soldiers, which event, and the aftermath of York's life are also recounted by the author. I thought that that Mastriano did a very good job with this biography, it was well written and interesting, and there are many excerpts from York's personal accounts and statements. At the end of the book, there is as chapter dealing with his research into the spot where the famous event happened, showing pictures of the bullets and giving accounts of other archeological evidence confirming the location, and York's account, of the event. I also liked many of the little details that are given, such as where it is noted that York's wife Gracie did not like the part in the movie that ended up being made about York where she and York are seen kissing before they are married - which they apparently did not do in real life. And as another example, I was especially surprised to find out that part of the motivation for the particular attack on the Germans, in which York's division participated (and in which York became famous), was to free 'The Lost Battalion.' York was a very interesting and principled Christian man, and humble as well as is evidenced in his endeavor to honor those men who were with him and give the credit to the Lord for what he was enabled to do. This is an inspiring biography. Many thanks to the folks at the University Press of Kentucky for sending me a free review copy of this book (the review did not have to be positive)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Key

    Alvin York was a true American Patriot. He had a wild time in his life, like most of us. His faith took over before the war. He started out as a conscientious objector. But once he signed on. His Tennessee backwoods upbringing stayed with him throughout his life. During the famous battle, he saw his best friend killed. He was controlled and took care of business. He would yell and beg the Germans to give up. Many didn’t and he then killed or captured the enemy using hunting tactics that was in-b Alvin York was a true American Patriot. He had a wild time in his life, like most of us. His faith took over before the war. He started out as a conscientious objector. But once he signed on. His Tennessee backwoods upbringing stayed with him throughout his life. During the famous battle, he saw his best friend killed. He was controlled and took care of business. He would yell and beg the Germans to give up. Many didn’t and he then killed or captured the enemy using hunting tactics that was in-bred since his youth. The author goes into so much tactical details that it was hard to comprehend. Everyone should read this book and how faith can guide you in tough times. He believed God was protecting him as his buddies were falling all around.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave Barker

    This was a great historical account of the life and actions of brave man who found principals and lived by his principals. This did not always win him riches or friends, but he has my respect. It is also worth noting the inability to escape politics in war or peace. Medals awarded by people not present at the action are sometimes based on who makes the most noise irregardless of what actually happened. Also, in peace, to do the “good” thing, but not getting your accounting with the IRS right will This was a great historical account of the life and actions of brave man who found principals and lived by his principals. This did not always win him riches or friends, but he has my respect. It is also worth noting the inability to escape politics in war or peace. Medals awarded by people not present at the action are sometimes based on who makes the most noise irregardless of what actually happened. Also, in peace, to do the “good” thing, but not getting your accounting with the IRS right will result in hard times!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul Downs

    I had the privilege of meeting Col. Mastriano at Gettysburg, where he gave a fantastic tour of the battlefield. Had to get his book. I've really enjoyed it. York is a fascinating character, and Col. Mastriano's writing is excellent. Highly recommend for any history buff.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brandon H.

    Having enjoyed the film I jumped at the chance to learn more about this American hero. I especially enjoyed the author's efforts to illustrate just how central the Christian faith was to Alvin's life. Alvin York was much more than an American war hero. He was a good example of what it means to serve God faithfully, and humbly, living an honorable life that was free from the love of money. The author also spent a considerable amount of time giving a solid and convincing defense of Alvin's heroic Having enjoyed the film I jumped at the chance to learn more about this American hero. I especially enjoyed the author's efforts to illustrate just how central the Christian faith was to Alvin's life. Alvin York was much more than an American war hero. He was a good example of what it means to serve God faithfully, and humbly, living an honorable life that was free from the love of money. The author also spent a considerable amount of time giving a solid and convincing defense of Alvin's heroic actions during the war due to the more recent charges that Alvin's story was exaggerated.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    Good book and battlefield study was very interesting

  15. 4 out of 5

    jerry hocking

  16. 4 out of 5

    C42

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Postma

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joani Rayl

  19. 4 out of 5

    William Stroock

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert O'neal

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stan Crader

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rick Moore

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tekell

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ray Limbach

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark S. Uttermark

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Dean

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Verner

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ian

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