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David Kenyon Webster

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Private David Kenyon Webster (June 2, 1922 - September 9, 1961) was an American soldier, journalist and author. During World War II he fought with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, and is featured in the book and TV series Band of Brothers.  After World War II, he pursued a career in journalism, working for the Wall Street Journal and the LA Daily News.  Private David Kenyon Webster is the author of Myth and Maneater The Story of the Shark.  He is also a co-author of Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich.

Kirkus Reviews said of Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich, “It's a mystery why these splendid reminiscences of a gentleman ranker who served with the US Army's 101st Airborne Division in Europe during the climactic months of WW II were rejected by book publishers following their completion in the late 1940s. However, the frequently sardonic, dead-honest text proves well worth waiting for. A Harvard student before his induction, Webster signed on with the parachute infantry, a posting that earned him the privilege of dropping behind German lines early on D-day, long hours before Allied forces launched their coastal assault on France's Normandy Peninsula. Having survived the invasion and its aftermath, the author made his second and last combat jump into Holland for the Arnem campaign, during which he sustained a leg wound that took him out of action for nearly five months. Rejoining his unit at the start of 1945, Webster helped chase the battered but still deadly Wehrmacht through the Rhineland and into Bavaria. At war's end he and his comrades-in-arms were drinking Hitler's champagne in Bertchtesgaden, the Fuehrer's fabled Alpine redoubt. Occupation duty soon palled, however, and the author pulled all available strings to get himself stateside for demobilization. Webster, who went on to become a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, penned his memoir shortly after discharge, drawing mainly on letters he had written from Europe. A permanent private with the soul of a short- timer, he had many complaints about the chain of command, in particular its propensity for thoroughly briefing the troops before any action and leaving them in the dark once the shooting started. He also understood that the ties that bind men in battle have more to do with brotherhood and its obligations than either God or country. Webster's words will ring a resonant bell with the legions of GIs who rather enjoyed soldiering under fire but despised the military for its chickenshit rigidity.”

 

One reader of Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich said, “David Webster is at times introspective, bitter, proud, angry and, like all combat troops, depressed and frightened. On more than one occasion the reader wonders why he volunteered in the first place. But his story is so convincingly told, so personal, that the reader experiences the same conflicting emotions. This narrative of a paratroop over Normandy and beyond, fills a gap left in most other accounts of the airdrop on the western flank of Overlord. Webster masterfully moves the reader with him, dressing out for the big jump. Assignments are reviewed, equipment is explained in detail, the movement of men on to the tarmac by truck, the numbness over the Channel, the searchlights probing the night skies and, finally before the jump, the hellish flack. Realism is maintained throughout the work as much of it was based on letters written during the war and recollections reduced to writing shortly after the war.”

 

One reader of Myth and Maneater The Story of the Shark said, “I have just finished reading this book and think it is a great source of information. It is a great source for shark attacks and sharks themselves. It is a very good book especially for people living in California, it obtains lots of information on our local species of sharks. Great Book!”


Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich
David Kenyon Webster  More Info
Myth and Maneater
David Kenyon Webster  More Info

One reader of Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich said, “David Kenyon Webster's personal account of the D-day invasion and the fall of the Third Reich is beautifully written and completely captivating. Though he did jump in Normandy on D-Day, and saw the war to the end, his actual combat experience was somewhat limited. He recalls only one definite kill, a retreating German soldier who was thought to be a runner. Webster admits that this action was one of the few times he ever fired his rifle in combat. For Webster, the real war was fought inside his mind, as he tried to find a personal acceptance and justification for being in the army and fighting in WWII. He starts the text by stating that in a letter to his mother, he tells her that the Germans must be brutally beaten and destroyed in their homeland, for that was the only way to ensure that they would never again try to wage war on the world. He later changes his mind by saying that he never believed in the war, and that the army was the most inefficiently run organization in the world. After liberating the concentration camps, Webster again admits that the war was necessary. He also toils with his love-hate relationship with the army. Though he constantly cursed the army, he closes by saying that he would not trade his experience for anything in the world. He was glad to be a part of WWII. Webster had his reasons for hating the army, but it should be noted that thousands of other soldiers felt that their military life was very gratifying and comfortable, and they were glad to have the experience. Many WWII soldiers say that the army (service) made them better people. With a negative and sometimes hateful tone, Webster vividly recounts his experiences. This book is a must read for anybody who is interested in learning what many soldiers were thinking and saying as they participated in the largest military invasion in history.”

 

The Library Journal said of Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich, “Webster was definitely not your average GI. An English major at Harvard, he could have spent World War II as an officer or in a combat support branch. Instead, he volunteered to serve as a combat infantryman in the new U.S. Army airborne forces. His desire to fight the Nazis was more than fulfilled through combat jumps on D-Day and later behind German lines. Himself wounded, Webster buried more than a few of his close friends. Although all personal narratives of combat possess common themes and follow predictable paths, they invariably draw the reader into their world of common suffering, shared joy, collective terror, and appalling inhumanity. Webster brings this world alive for the reader.”

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