Douglas Brinkely's the Boys of Pointe Du Book Review

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¶ … Douglas Brinkely's the Boys of Pointe du Hoc

In his book, the Boys of Pointe du Hoc, Douglas Brinkley chronicles a turning point in World War II, the assault on Pointe du Hoc by the 2nd Ranger Battalion, but he also examines the manner in which President Ronald Reagan paid tribute to these heroes on the anniversary of the event and how it helped contribute to the rebirth of patriotism in the United States during the 1980s. To better understand this important event in the history of World War II and the part President Reagan played in commemorating it, this paper provides a review of Brinkley's book to determine what training went into the mission, the actions taken by the Rangers during their assault on Pointe du Hoc, and what Brinkley has to say about Ronald Reagan and the rebirth of patriotism in the 1980s. A discussion concerning Brinkley's coverage of the issue of memory and World War II is followed by an examination of what this book has to say about the start of the "Greatest Generation" concept as well as an analysis and critical evaluation of the book's primary thesis. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

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Book Review on Douglas Brinkely's the Boys of Pointe Du Assignment

Readers sitting comfortably in the living rooms reading this book in the 21st century will probably not appreciate what the 2nd Ranger Battalion actually experienced on the fateful day on June 6, 1944, when "Rudder's Rangers" who would come to be known as "the boys of Pointe du Hoc" following President Reagan's 40th anniversary commemorative speech, scaled the 100-foot cliffs at Pointe du Hoc in the first blow of the D-Day invasion. The mission was deemed critical because of the battery of French-made 155mm cannons the Germans had installed at the top of the strategic promontory. Through a hail of mortar and machine gun fire and a rain of hand grenades, about 225 Rangers scrambled up rope ladders to help secure the beaches at Normandy in what was perhaps the most important mission of the invasion, and -- not surprisingly -- only 99 of them survived the assault.

The fact that any of these brave men survived the experience at all, though, is testament to the rigorous training they underwent prior to their assault on the sheer cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. For instance, according to Brinkley, "What is most relevant to this study, however, is the way this first class of U.S. Army Rangers was trained to climb towering cliffs by using spikes and rope ladders."

The Rangers were vigorously and relentlessly trained in both the United States in the humid regions of Tennessee, the swamps of Florida and at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as well as upon their arrival in England, and they emerged as "more than a 'band of brothers,'" Brinkley says, "they were an elite fraternity of lethal killers."

Actions by the Rangers on June 6, 1944

The men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion were loaded onto so-called "Higgins Boats," named after their U.S. manufacturer, which were piloted by British sailors. These boats were equipped with the Ranger's "secret weapon," mounted cannons that would fire grappling hooks and rope ladders up the sheer cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. The Rangers began experiencing machine gun and mortar fire as they approached the narrow beach but the grappling hooks were fired and, as President Reagan phrased it:

And the American Rangers began to climb. . . . When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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