SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Force: The Legendary Special Ops Unit and WWII’s Mission Impossible

Hachette. Sept. 2019. 368p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316414531. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316414517. HIST
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Early in World War II, Canada and the United States agreed to form a small combined unit, consisting of 2,200 soldiers, for mountain and snow assaults, what we would now call special ops. They gathered and trained near Helena, MT, for two years, focusing on physical fitness and specialized tactics. In December 1943, the unit, now named the First Special Service Force, entered combat in Italy, with the mission of climbing a sheer cliff at night and surprising a superior German redoubt, part of the German Winter Line. Half of this latest book from military historian and broadcaster David (The Indian Mutiny) is an extremely detailed narrative of the group’s training in Montana, followed by an equally detailed telling of the climactic assault. The unit fought at two other places in Europe, which are only mentioned in passing. The author uses soldiers’ voices to good effect, but more detail about the other combat sites would have been welcome.
VERDICT While the story has been related before, this well-told account of a little-known special operations unit will appeal to readers interested in World War II and fans of military history.

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