The epic story of the vastly outnumbered platoon that stopped Germany's leading assault in the Ardennes forest and prevented Hitler's most fearsome tanks from overtaking American positions
On the morning of December 16, 1944, eighteen men of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon attached to the 99th Infantry Division found themselves directly in the path of the main thrust of Hitler's massive Ardennes offensive. Despite being vastly outnumbered, they were told to hold their position "at all costs." Throughout the day, the platoon repulsed three large German assaults in a fierce day-long battle, killing hundreds of German soldiers. Only when they had run out of ammunition did they surrender to the enemy. But their long winter was just beginning.

As POWs, the platoon experienced an ordeal far worse than combat-surviving in wretched German POW camps. Yet miraculously the men of the platoon survived--all of them--and returned home after the war. More than thirty years later, when President Carter recognized the platoon's "extraordinary heroism" and the U.S. Army approved combat medals for all eighteen men, they became America's most decorated platoon of World War II.

With the same vivid and dramatic prose that made The Bedford Boys a national bestseller, Alex Kershaw brings to life the story of these little-known heroes--an epic tale of courage, duty, and survival in World War II and one of the most inspiring episodes in American history. The Longest Winter is an intensely human story about young men who find themselves in frightening wartime situations, who fight back instinctively, survive stoically, and live heroically.
The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II.

The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the "mad sadist" Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protégé charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.

From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director's close ties to collaborationist Vichy. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11—but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.

Drawing upon a wealth of primary source material and extensive interviews with Phillip Jackson, Alex Kershaw recreates the City of Light during its darkest days. The untold story of the Jackson family anchors the suspenseful narrative, and Kershaw dazzles readers with the vivid immediacy of the best spy thrillers. Awash with the tense atmosphere of World War II's Europe, Avenue of Spies introduces us to the brave doctor who risked everything to defy Hitler.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Alex Kershaw, author of The Longest Winter and The Liberator, returns with an utterly immersive, adrenaline-driven account of D-Day combat.
 
“Meet the assaulters: pathfinders plunging from the black, coxswains plowing the whitecaps, bareknuckle Rangers scaling sheer rock . . . Fast-paced and up close, this is history’s greatest story reinvigorated as only Alex Kershaw can.”—Adam Makos, New York Times bestselling author of Spearhead and A Higher Call

Beginning in the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, The First Wave follows the remarkable men who carried out D-Day’s most perilous missions. The charismatic, unforgettable cast includes the first American paratrooper to touch down on Normandy soil; the glider pilot who braved antiaircraft fire to crash-land mere yards from the vital Pegasus Bridge; the brothers who led their troops onto Juno Beach under withering fire; as well as a French commando, returning to his native land, who fought to destroy German strongholds on Sword Beach and beyond. Readers will experience the sheer grit of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc and the astonishing courage of the airborne soldiers who captured the Merville Gun Battery in the face of devastating enemy counterattacks. The first to fight when the stakes were highest and the odds longest, these men would determine the fate of the invasion of Hitler’s fortress Europe—and the very history of the twentieth century.
 
The result is an epic of close combat and extraordinary heroism. It is the capstone Alex Kershaw’s remarkable career, built on his close friendships with D-Day survivors and his intimate understanding of the Normandy battlefield. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, here is a fresh take on World War II's longest day.

Praise for The First Wave:

“Masterful... readers will feel the sting of the cold surf, smell the acrid cordite that hung in the air, and duck the zing of machine-gun bullets whizzing overhead. The First Wave is an absolute triumph.”—James M. Scott, bestselling author of Target Tokyo

“These pages ooze with the unforgettable human drama of history's most consequential invasion.”—John C. McManus, author of The Dead and Those About to Die
The true story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War: the battlefield odyssey of a maverick U.S. Army officer and his infantry unit as they fought for over five hundred days to liberate Europe - from the invasion of Italy to the gates of Dachau.

   From July 10, 1943, the date of the Allied landing in Sicily, to May 8, 1945, when victory in Europe was declared – the entire time it took to liberate Europe – no regiment saw more action, and no single platoon, company, or battalion endured worse, than the ones commanded by Felix Sparks, who had entered the war as a greenhorn second lieutenant of the 157th “Eager for Duty” Infantry Regiment of the 45th “Thunderbird” Division.  Sparks and his fellow Thunderbirds fought longest and hardest to defeat Hitler, often against his most fanatical troops, when the odds on the battlefield were even and the fortunes of the Allies hung in the balance – and when the difference between defeat and victory was a matter of character, not tactics or armor.

   Drawing on extensive interviews with Sparks and dozens of his men, as well as over five years of research in Europe and in archives across the US, historian Alex Kershaw masterfully recounts one of the most inspiring and heroic journeys in military history.  Over the course of four amphibious invasions, Sparks rose from captain to colonel as he battled from the beaches of Sicily through the mountains of Italy and France, ultimately enduring bitter and desperate winter combat against the diehard SS on the Fatherland’s borders.  Though he lost all of his company to save the Allied beach-head at Anzio and an entire battalion in the dark forests of the Vosges, Sparks miraculously survived the long bloody march across Europe and was selected to lead a final charge to Bavaria to hunt down Adolf Hitler.

   In the dying days of the Third Reich, Sparks and his men crossed the last great barrier in the West, the Rhine, only to experience some of the most intense street fighting and close combat suffered by Americans in WWII.  When they finally arrived at the gates of Dachau, Hitler’s first and most notorious concentration camp, the Thunderbirds confronted scenes that robbed the mind of reason.  With victory within grasp, Sparks confronted the ultimate test of his humanity: after all he had faced, could he resist the urge to wreak vengeance on the men who had caused untold suffering and misery?

   Written with the narrative drive and vivid immediacy of Kershaw’s previous bestselling books about American infantrymen in WWII, The Liberator is a story for the ages, an intensely human and dramatic account of one of history’s greatest warriors and his unheralded role in America’s finest achievement – the defeat of Nazi Germany.
The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II.

The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the "mad sadist" Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protégé charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.

From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director's close ties to collaborationist Vichy. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11—but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.

Drawing upon a wealth of primary source material and extensive interviews with Phillip Jackson, Alex Kershaw recreates the City of Light during its darkest days. The untold story of the Jackson family anchors the suspenseful narrative, and Kershaw dazzles readers with the vivid immediacy of the best spy thrillers. Awash with the tense atmosphere of World War II's Europe, Avenue of Spies introduces us to the brave doctor who risked everything to defy Hitler.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Alex Kershaw, author of The Longest Winter and The Liberator, returns with an utterly immersive, adrenaline-driven account of D-Day combat.
 
“Meet the assaulters: pathfinders plunging from the black, coxswains plowing the whitecaps, bareknuckle Rangers scaling sheer rock . . . Fast-paced and up close, this is history’s greatest story reinvigorated as only Alex Kershaw can.”—Adam Makos, New York Times bestselling author of Spearhead and A Higher Call

Beginning in the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, The First Wave follows the remarkable men who carried out D-Day’s most perilous missions. The charismatic, unforgettable cast includes the first American paratrooper to touch down on Normandy soil; the glider pilot who braved antiaircraft fire to crash-land mere yards from the vital Pegasus Bridge; the brothers who led their troops onto Juno Beach under withering fire; as well as a French commando, returning to his native land, who fought to destroy German strongholds on Sword Beach and beyond. Readers will experience the sheer grit of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc and the astonishing courage of the airborne soldiers who captured the Merville Gun Battery in the face of devastating enemy counterattacks. The first to fight when the stakes were highest and the odds longest, these men would determine the fate of the invasion of Hitler’s fortress Europe—and the very history of the twentieth century.
 
The result is an epic of close combat and extraordinary heroism. It is the capstone Alex Kershaw’s remarkable career, built on his close friendships with D-Day survivors and his intimate understanding of the Normandy battlefield. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, here is a fresh take on World War II's longest day.

Praise for The First Wave:

“Masterful... readers will feel the sting of the cold surf, smell the acrid cordite that hung in the air, and duck the zing of machine-gun bullets whizzing overhead. The First Wave is an absolute triumph.”—James M. Scott, bestselling author of Target Tokyo

“These pages ooze with the unforgettable human drama of history's most consequential invasion.”—John C. McManus, author of The Dead and Those About to Die
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