Gavin at War
The World War II Diary of Lieutenant General James M. Gavin
240 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 30 photographs
- November 2022
- In Stock
Winner, 2022 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Awards, Journals, Memoirs, and Letters
"General Gavin was a very brave man who had great faith in his men. The battle or the weather never stopped him from going to check the troops. He would go in the rain or snow. If the battle was severe, he would crawl from foxhole to foxhole to talk to his men to let them know he was with them. Words cannot explain the love and pride I had for General Gavin."—Walter Woods, World War II aide to General Gavin
Lieutenant General James Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during WWII, is one of the best-known figures of the war. Beginning as the commander of the 505th Parachute Combat Team that spearheaded the American assault on Sicily in July 1943, Gavin advanced to division command and finally command of US forces in Berlin. Throughout this time he kept a wartime diary that starts in April 1943, as the unit was preparing to go to northern Africa, and continues through to his final entry on 1 September 1945 during the occupation of Berlin.
During the war years, Gavin came into close contact with virtually all the leading airborne commanders and many others who would advance to the top levels of Army leadership. His diary includes observations on fellow military and political leaders such as General Dwight Eisenhower and the British Field Marshal Montgomery, army operations, and the general's personal life. Gavin was an officer who led by example: on four combat jumps—into Sicily, at Salerno, then Normandy and the Netherlands—he was the first man out the door. Two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Silver Stars, and the Purple Heart rewarded his service.
For decades, Gavin kept the existence of the journal a secret; the general's family discovered it among his belongings after his death. Editor Lewis "Bob" Sorley has worked closely with the Gavin family and the Army Heritage Center to prepare the diary for publication. His edited and annotated version includes a prologue and epilogue to frame the entries within the wider scope of the general's life.
Editor’s Note on the Text
1 Going to War
6 Back to the 82nd
7 Normandy and After
8 Division Command and Nijmegen
9 France and Belgium
“Gavin at War provides a lively self-portrait. His diary is especially notable for its skeptical assessments of his comrades and his Army.” ~The New York Times
"Gavin’s writing provides a primer on leadership and reminds us that it is a constant cycle of learning and improving, coupled with the moral obligation to make difficult personal choices." ~ARMY Magazine
"[The journal] has been edited and annotated for the reader, giving insight into Gavin's views on his operations, fellow senior leaders, and his own life. There are two inserts of well-chosen photographs accompanying the text." ~WWII History Magazine
"All readers who are interested in World War II will find much to enjoy in this book, and it is highly recommended." ~The Journal of America's Military Past
"Dr. Lewis S. Sorley, III, himself a West Point graduate, Vietnam War veteran, and acclaimed historian, has masterfully edited this unique look into the mind of one of America's greatest combat commanders. " ~On Point: The Journal of Army History
"Gavin had literally written the book on airborne operations, and through this book, the reader is able to see him putting theory into action." ~Military Review
"This book is perfect for World War II enthusiasts, military fans, and particularly, for those who revere Gavin as the Father of Airborne." ~DODReads
“'Airborne All the Way!' That was Major General Jim Gavin’s ethos when he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division during the toughest battles of World War II. For years, many wondered about the man behind the legend. What made this airborne leader who he was? Now we know the answer in the general’s own words, courtesy of Gavin’s newly revealed wartime diary. West Point graduate, Vietnam War veteran, and acclaimed historian Lewis S. Sorley, III has masterfully edited this unique look into the mind of one of America’s greatest combat commanders." ~Daniel P. Bolger, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army, Retired and author of "The Panzer Killers"
“Gavin at War is a remarkable work, a must-read for all World War II history aficionados. The detail is specific, the insights honest and forthright, and the reader is immediately immersed in the General James Gavin's war." ~Martin Dugard, New York Times #1 bestselling author of "Taking Berlin"
“Jim Gavin was an airborne pioneer and an inspirational, innovative leader who somehow managed to keep a fascinating, revealing World War II diary. Now, thanks to the expert, intuitive editing of Lewis Sorley, Gavin's diary is finally available to us in published form, richly augmented by Sorley's insightful background chapters. I found myself riveted by Gavin's many insights and observations. Highly recommended!” ~John C. McManus, Ph.D., author of "September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far and "The Americans at D-Day"
“Gavin at War is an unprecedented look into the mind of one of the airborne’s legendary leaders. An essential addition to the paratrooper history and the legacy of the 82nd Airborne Division.” ~Kevin Maurer, New York Times #1 bestselling author of "No Easy Day" and "Damn Lucky"
"Nothing can be more truthful and revealing than a diary, and Jim Gavin’s never disappoints. His entries form an exciting window through which we view, unvarnished, the great personalities and events that shaped the world. Essential reading." ~Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor Winner, Former Military Associate to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam
"Invaluable insights on leadership in war and peace from one of the finest leaders in modern history, General James Gavin. A profound debt of gratitude and respect is due the Gavin family for sharing these memoirs with contemporary leaders, historians and the public so that all might learn from his example." ~General John W. Nicholson Jr, US Army Retired
"Gavin at War is a must have addition to the library of anyone interested in airborne operations, combat leadership, or the history of the Second World War. It is a rare opportunity to understand the experiences of a renowned combat leader in his own words." ~ARGunners.com
“The publication of this detailed personal diary adds much more depth to our understanding of what made James Gavin tick. Never intended for publication, this private, often critical, and extremely candid account really does give an insight to Gavin's view of life in general.” ~Mike Peters, author of "Bomb Group"