Left for Dead at Nijmegen - Book Review

Left for Dead at Nijmegen

Author: Marcus A. Nannini
Genre: Non Fiction - Biography
Publisher: Casemate
Date Published: March 12, 2019
ISBN-10: 1612006965
ISBN-13: 978-1-61200-696-3

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Book Review of :  Left for Dead at Nijmegen


Author Marcus A, Nannini conducted many in-depth interviews with WWII veteran, Gene Metcalfe. Left for Dead at Nijmegen sub-titled The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II is so intriguing that it would read as a memoir if written in the first person. Gene’s personality and memory allow his story to be recreated with astounding detail.

Gene begins his tragically historic account as paratrooper and prisoner of war with humor. He quit high school months before graduation in late 1942, at the age of nineteen. With no time to grow up, he began an arduous training adventure of mishaps to become qualified as one of America’s first paratroopers. He recalls miraculous interventions, or good luck, as his career advances in spite of brushes with death.

As a green paratrooper, he and his unit were dropped outside Nijmegen, Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. A German shell exploded sending his body skyward. A fellow soldier reached him but assuming he was dead, left his body as the unit retreated.

Gene’s story continues as a prisoner of war. For eight harrowing months, he suffered the anguish, pain, and shock of deprivation, starvation, and fear. He witnessed extreme carnage, risked his life to save a wounded paratrooper and eventually escaped. He vividly recalls how he endured as a slave laborer, even recalling conversations and some of the men he became acquainted with. His interrogation by a German he identified as Himmler is intriguing.

The author vividly recalls Gene’s description of himself as an escaped prisoner. “he had not cut his hair, shaved or even washed his uniform since he jumped into Holland. He also sported the German prisoner-of-war patch, partially obscured by dried blood on his battle jacket.”

Gene experienced many twists of fate as the newly organized Paratrooper Infantry Regiment thrust him into the depths of a war like the world had never before experienced. He accepted misconstrued orders without complaint and endured extreme hardship with lack of despair. He told the author that at one point he thought he was losing his sanity and whispered: “I could get killed if I don’t get a grip on myself”. This positive attitude and faith served him well, as did his sense of humor.

Without knowing it, Gene escaped death again, this time death by the hands of the Allies, when the sprawling prison, Stalag VII-A, was identified just in time to prevent being attacked during General Patton’s Liberation. During the confusion of the war’s end, Gene escaped, stole a 1930 Opel convertible and headed to France. Eventually, he returned to the United States, a little older and much wiser as he hitch-hiked home.

Gene Metcalfe’s detailed recollections are supplemented with photographs. This is an important biography worthy of inclusion in World War II themed collections. The book portrays military sacrifices and the reality of the struggle of POW as reported by a survivor.

Reviewed by: Carol

About Marcus A. Nannini

Fans of historical fiction or thrilling mysteries will surely be captivated by Chameleons from its very first page. -- Lisa Edelman, Indie Reader

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By: Susanne JohnsonDate: 05/03/2019 16:36:34
This is the best book I have read on the subject of WWII. The author portrayed Gene Metcalf as the kind of guy we could all feel for. I could not put the book down until I was finished with the entire thing. I will always think of this man when reminded of the suffering POW's during that war. The Author's extensive research, with photos, was helpful for the full experience of this man's story. The sketches provided by the subject are light hearted and, at times, hilarious! This is a book I will keep on my shelf and re-read.

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