Gavin at War

The World War II Diary of Lieutenant General James M. Gavin

The previously unpublished wartime diary of Lieutenant General James Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.
Date Published :
September 2022
Publisher :
Editor :
Lewis Sorley
Illustration :
30 photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636240244
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


The previously unpublished wartime diary of Lieutenant General James Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.

"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.

About The Author

Lewis Sorley is a third-generation graduate of the United States Military Academy who also holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. During two decades of military service he led tank and armored cavalry units in Germany, Vietnam, and the United States, held Pentagon staff assignments in the Offices of the Secretary of Defense and the Army Chief of Staff, and was on the faculties of West Point and the Army War College.

Following service as a senior civilian official at CIA he became a leading historian of the Vietnam War. His books include A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam and biographies of Generals Creighton Abrams, Harold K. Johnson, and William Westmoreland.


Walter Woods Letter
Editor’s Note on the Text
Editor’s Prologue

1 Going to War
2 Sicily
3 Africa
4 Italy
5 London
6 Back to the 82nd
7 Normandy and After
8 Division Command and Nijmegen
9 France and Belgium
10 Germany
11 Berlin

Editor’s Epilogue
Selected Bibliography

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