Books: The Anatomy of Defeat

THE RIVER AND THE GAUNTLET (385 pp.) S.LA. Marshall—Morrow ($5).

Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall is a newspaperman (Detroit News) and a World War I doughboy who became the Army's chief historian in Europe in World War II. As historian, he quickly learned that the usual military records convey neither the look nor the sound of battle. But by questioning everyone from rifleman to army group commander—and fitting the answers together—"Slam" Marshall soon developed a way of describing war, e.g., Island Victory, Bastogne, that made other service histories sound like business balance sheets.

Historian Marshall is at the top of his technique in The...

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