Item description for YOU CAN'T GET MUCH CLOSER THAN THIS: Combat With Company H, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division by Andrew Z. Adkins & A. Z. Adkins...
Andrew Z. Adkins, Jr., graduated from The Citadel in May 1943 and immediately attended the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, where he was commissioned and sent on to the 80th Infantry Division, then undergoing its final training cycle in the California-Arizona desert. Upon reaching the division, 2d Lieutenant Adkins was assigned as an 81mm mortar section leader in Company H, 2d Battalion, 317th Infantry Regiment.
When the 80th Infantry Division completed its training in December 1943, it was shipped in stages to the United Kingdom and then on to Normandy, where it landed on August 3, 1944. There, Lieutenant Adkins and his fellow soldiers took part in light hedgerow fighting that served to shake the division down and familiarize the troops and their officers with combat.
The first real test came on August 20, 1944, when the 2d Battalion, 317th Infantry, attacked high ground near Argentan during the Allied drive to seal huge German forces in the Falaise Pocket. While scouting for mortar positions in the woods, Andy Adkins ran into a group of Germans and shot one of them dead with his carbine. This baptism in blood taught him the answer to a question every novice combatant wants to hear: He was cool under fire, capable of killing when facing the enemy. He later wrote, "It was a sickening sight, but having been caught up in the heat of battle, I didn't have a reaction other than feeling I had saved my own life."
Thereafter, the 2d Battalion, 317th Infantry, took part in a succession of bloody battles across France. Ineptly led through the tentures of several battalion commanders, the unit suffered grievous losses even as it took hills and towns away from brave and well-led German veterans. In the course of fighting graphically portrayed in this soldier's memoir, Andy Adkins acted with remarkable skill and courage, placing himself at the forefront of the action whenever he could. His extremely aggressive delivery of critical supplies to a cutoff unit in an embattled French town earned him a Bronze Star Medal, the first such award in his battalion.
You Can't Get Much Closer Than This is at heart a young soldier's story of war. In vibrant, piercing terms, a junior officer's coming of age in battle is the compelling focus of page after page of action sequences that add up to a solid description of what modern warfare is really all about. Before his death in 19--, Andy Adkins was able to face his memory of war as bravely as he faced the war itself. He set it all down on paper, honest, unflinching, and straightforward. In 1944 and 1945, young Lieutenant Adkins did his duty to his men and his country, and much later he did his duty to his readers. Indeed, you really can't get much closer than this.
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Reviews - What do customers think about YOU CAN'T GET MUCH CLOSER THAN THIS: Combat With Company H, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division?
This is a special book! Feb 26, 2008
I just finished reading this book for the second time. At least one reviewer has complained of the Adkins writing style but I could not disagree more. I'm a very busy person and would not waste my time reading any book twice unless it was exceptional, and this book is just that.
The writing is clear and easy to follow, refreshingly honest and frankly the account is intensely interesting. Yes. there is a typo or two but you'll be way too involved in the amazing first hand account of A.Z. Adkins to notice. My grandfather was an infantry first lieutenant who saw similar duty and this book really helped me to understand a lot about his service.
These men withstood so much hardship one can not read this and not have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for what these men gave to us and the world.
Thank you A.Z. Adkins. For the book and more importantly for enduring incredible hardships and giving us the gift of freedom.
Good honest memoir but not a great read Jun 17, 2007
"You Can't Get Much Closer Than This: Combat with Company H, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division" by Andrew Z. Adkins Jr. and A.Z.A. III represents a non-homogenized non-sterilized look at the Second World War from foxhole level. Nearly everything in this book comes from A.Z. Adkins Jr's wartime journal, and thus presents a view of the war from one individual's perspective. If you're looking for a 'bigger picture' tied into this story (somehow this reviewer thought that because A.Z. Adkins III brought his fathers journal to life he might provide some 'filler' to tie together items - no such luck). The book can be broken into four basic parts (not the chapters of the book though) representing four chronological periods that fall naturally along lines of major events in the ETO. The first period is the Normandy/bocage fighting period, the second is the Breakout, pursuit and initial West Wall (Siegfried Line) action, the third is the Battle of the Bulge and following action leading up to the Rhine crossing, and the forth is the Rhine crossing to V-E day. Of all these sections the third is by far the best in terms of visceral impact and readability. The other three sections unfortunately suffer from a dull prose that is only infrequently livened by an engaging story or writing style. Fortunately, Adkins and Adkins do not candy coat combat and in presenting an un-sanitized version of events do give the reader some less common in the genre. Still this positive does not sufficiently outweigh the negative of style (not to mention the numerous typos and other editorial issues).
As "You Can't Get Much Closer Than This" is one mans story of the Second World War with little of the 'bigger picture' woven in it is hard to review (positively or negatively) the historical value of the book, rather it seems appropriate to review it from the standpoint of whether it is a good read or not. Regarding this latter criteria this reviewer would have to break with the praise given in nearly all other reviews and say that this is a good 3.5 star read at best. The book is short enough to get through quickly, readers will get a truer picture of war than in most 'memoirs', but the reading will not always be easy or fully engaging and enjoyable. 3.5 Stars.
Well done! Jan 16, 2007
This is interesting first person account of World War Two from the perspective of a soldier from my area of Florida! That alone made the book a pleasant surprise. But besides that, I found this book a well written account of a young man taken from college to fight with the 80th Infantry division.
The book reads like a great war story rather than a war-time biography or diary. It's a quick, informative, read that does not overwhelm the reader with details. You really don't have to be a WWII historian to really enjoy this fine book.
What I think is unusual about the book is it mentions cities not normally mentioned in the history of other units and events not commonly written about. For example, the author goes into great detail regarding the use of motors in close action with the infantry. The fact the author received an absentee ballot for an election, voted and mailed it back home (that's a first in over 300 WWII history books I've read).
It also has an excellent short history of the 80th Infantry Division, including cities and counties it "visited" along with attached units and other statistics.
A 'you are there' atmosphere Jan 6, 2007
Andy Adkins Jr. was a Second Lieutenant and served in Company H, 80th Infantry Division during World War II: his regiment landed at Normandy in 1944 and fought they way on foot across France and into Germany. If you want a riveting, hard-hitting memoir which recreates the moment of a soldier's experience, the title says it all: YOU CAN'T GET MUCH CLOSER THAN THIS: COMBAT WITH COMPANY H, 317TH INFANTRY REGIMENT, 80TH DIVISION. First-person memories of war experience assume a 'you are there' atmosphere as the author speaks with comrades and experiences battles, rough conditions, and struggles.
Diane C. Donovan California Bookwatch
VESTED INTEREST Oct 26, 2006
My uncle, Harry Goldsborough, served in CO. F, 2nd Battalion, and I had heard a few stories from my Mother about her brother's experiences in World War Two. The stories were few and and unpleasant, and I gather that he did not speak much of the war. The reading from this book gave a great insight to where my uncle was during his time in the 80th and what he probably went through. I found the reading very easy and it made me proud of his service to his country.