by Patrick K. O'Donnell
Boston: Da Capo Press, 2013. Pp. xiv, 306.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $15.99 paper. ISBN: 0306822644
A very readable, vivid, and often insightful look at the Rangers who stormed Pointe du Hoc on D-Day.
O’Donnell, author of a number of books on World War II, opens with an account of the formation of the Rangers and of the 2nd Ranger Battalion in particular. He looks at their training and gives us a personalized introduction to many of the men, of all ranks, some of whom he follows through to the end of the war, while others will have fallen during the fighting. The discussion of the assault on Pointe du Hoc is quite well done, with inputs from interviews with many of the veterans. This enriches the account, and gives us some notion of the often extreme chaos and uncertainty of combat, in a fight which cost the landing troops about two-thirds of their number in killed and wounded. While preparations for the capture Pointe du Hoc, and the actual operation on June 6-7, 1944, is at the core of the book (16 of the 42 chapters), O’Donnell doesn’t stop there. He follows the troops through their defense of the captured strongpoint over the next few days, while helped keep German reinforcements from reaching Omaha Beach, and then takes them through the Brittany Campaign, into the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge, and then on across the Roer River into Germany through to the end of the war.
An excellent treatment of men in combat, Dog Company is worth reading for anyone interested in D-Day, the war in Europe, or special operations forces.