Abstract/Details

The sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II


2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

In a host of works published shortly after the end of World War II and continuing through the early 1980s scholars and military analysts almost without exception made sweeping generalizations about the relative ineffectiveness of Allied ground combat units, especially when compared to similar units in the German Army. But beginning in the late 1980s historians began challenging this prevailing orthodoxy and while some took to task the evidentiary underpinnings of the previous work others disputed the notion that the German Army of World War II was as good on the battlefield as had previously been thought.

This study enters the historical debate at the micro level by focusing on one American combat unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, which saw about as much combat as any American unit in the European Theater. It takes as its measure of success the sine qua non of effectiveness on the battlefield—mission accomplishment—and demonstrates that despite fighting surrounded, outnumbered, or both the 82nd never failed to accomplish any mission assigned it. Moreover, it did so while confronting some of the very best ground combat units Germany had to offer.

Why and how the 82nd was able to perform so well in combat is an essential theme of the work. Two factors stand out. One was an organizational culture that prized aggressiveness and initiative and instilled these attributes in the ranks through training and by example. A second was an ethos of up-front leadership that permeated the division’s officer and noncommissioned officers corps.

The study draws on official records and histories, interviews, and the reminiscences, letters, diaries, and writings of veterans who fought with, alongside, and against the 82nd to both present a narrative history of the division during World War II and explicate the reasons for its success in combat. Moreover, it also provides a look at the early development of American airborne warfare, to include the struggle for its acceptance by the U.S. Army and the tactics and techniques that made it viable.

Indexing (details)


Subject
European history;
American history;
Military history
Classification
0335: European history
0337: American history
0722: Military history
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Airborne; Eighty-second Airborne Division; Military history; United States Army; World War II
Title
The sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II
Author
LoFaro, Guy Anthony
Number of pages
786
Publication year
2007
Degree date
2007
School code
0771
Source
DAI-A 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780549476948
University/institution
State University of New York at Stony Brook
University location
United States -- New York
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3302033
ProQuest document ID
304748112
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304748112
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