Battered Bastards of Bastogne
By George Koskimaki
In high school, I helped to found the school field hockey team. I volunteered my dad to be the coach, liaised with the Athletic Director (who happened to a member of the 101st Airborne after WWII) and was captain of the team. You might be wondering why I am starting off a review of a book about the Screaming Eagles and their brothers in arms during World War II with high school field hockey. During our seasons, my dad used the metaphor of the Band of Brothers over and over again. He used it as a metaphor. We were a group of girls from different backgrounds, different socio-economic backgrounds, personalities and levels of skill. It was the metaphor of these young men from all over the United States, some new to the country, some from military backgrounds, others the first in their family to ever serve in combat, all pulling together and fighting for our freedom. After learning about their story I grab everything I can about the 101st Airborne Division – and when the chance to review George Koskimaki’s The Battered Bastards of Bastogne I jumped on it. It was an honor to read this book, and all of the many first hand accounts and testimonials from the brave men who served in this reputable unit.
The Battered Bastards of Bastogne is complete history of all of the incidents that surrounded the 101st Airborne Division before during and after the Battle of Bastogne. It is amazing to see all of the different accounts that Koskimaki was able to pull together in one book. This is no war movie, or historians take on what happened. George Koskimaki served in Bastogne, as did almost all accounts (baring only those of civilians in the areas in which they were fighting) that are included in this book. I was honored to read the words of these men who’s bravery is unmatched. Reading about skirmish after skirmish, attack after attack, battle after battle, and all of the losses that had taken a toll on each of the members of this and other units like the 327th Glider Regiment, the 401st, the 506th and more. This book covers so many minute details that there is something for everyone to learn from it. It is not a book that you breeze through by any means. This book takes time, and it deserves your attention. These men deserve your attention. George Koskimaki deserves your attention. You will not begrudge it either. Over and over again I found myself reading late into the night to learn more about what was happening in each of the small towns. How they beat the Germans back again and again. To learn how these men suffered, fought, some died, and others triumphed.
This book will remain on my shelves for years to come. It is a must read for any history buff, any student of modern and world history, and anyone really who wants to know what life was like in some of the most intense fighting during the Second Great War. As we watch the events of the world, what is happening in the Ukraine and the threat of a Russian invasion reading about the last great war seemed foreboding. Maybe if enough people read works like George Koskimaki’s The Battered Bastards of Bastogne people would be less inclined to violence. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself. Pick up a copy of this book and tell your friends and family about it. I know in my life will be reading this book soon, and I highly suggest that you do too. A big thank you goes out to George Koskimaki for all of the work and effort that was taken to put this book together and bring the events of Bastogne and the surrounding countryside to life for all of the future generations like me.