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Donovan’s Bookshelf Review

Donovan’s Bookshelf Review

Soldier’s Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs
Compiled by The Miller Family
978-1-60645-162-5 (paperback)   $29.99
978-1-60645-176-2 (hardcover)    $34.99

So many, many histories, biographies and autobiographies have been written about World War II over the decades that one might wonder about the need for yet another, yet a number of factors differentiate Soldiers’ Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs from others on the market, making it a recommended pick for military history collections and anyone interested in a different approach to the war’s experiences.

For one thing, it includes not just vividly-penned memories, but photos and illustrations throughout – and it’s a family production: the writers, editors, and the illustrator are all members of the Miller family and held the shared goal of immortalizing their veteran father (Myron H. Miller was a sergeant in the 83rd Infantry Division) and his achievements alongside those of other WWII fighters.

Aside from this unusual cooperative family effort, it should be noted that most illustrated World War II histories are geared to a younger audience. As this book proves, that’s a shame; because visuals can be just as powerful as written memories, and Soldiers’ Stories succeeds in bringing both to the forefront in an invigorating, inspirational read designed to capture not just battle history, but the hearts, minds, and intimate reflections of soldiers in the field.

In a second notable contrast to other approaches, this is achieved through not just one soldier’s story and experience, but in a compilation designed to capture a wide range of soldier perspectives and experiences. This successfully creates a much more diverse set of wartime insights than any single biography or autobiography could achieve.

The families of vets of World War II have participated in this effort, but the collection campaign was made all the more challenging by the fact that so many of these vets didn’t like to speak about their military experiences, creating a special challenge in producing this book.

Furthermore, the Millers weren’t content to conduct research via phone and internet or limit their focus to U.S. vets alone: “Our journey took us to Omaha Beach, Sainteny, St. Malo, the Ardennes, Luxembourg, the Hurtgen Forest, Remagen, and other places. We saw the beaches, the hedgerows, the city streets, and the towering forests that had been the scenes of terrible suffering and fighting over seventy years ago. We experienced first hand the grateful memories of French, Belgians, and Germans who were there then and the appreciation of a new generation for what those soldiers did to free Europe of tyranny.”

Between the international nature of their venture, the all-encompassing drive to gather a wide range of WWII experiences, and the gorgeous color and vintage illustrations packed throughout, it’s no wonder that Soldiers’ Stories won the 2017 Ella Dickey Literacy Award for historical preservation through literature; or that among the plethora of World War II history books, it’s an eye-catching standout that takes military history and personalizes it to an extent few other books in the genre can compete with.

Very, very highly recommended as a ‘must have’ acquisition for any library or individual professing any interest in World War II experiences and their lasting impact on individual lives and the world.

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