World War II history has always been a fascinating subject for me – both because I think it’s important to look at the elements of fascism that were present in the war and because some of the most moving stories come from this period. It’s also a very sad and troubled time in world history. In Sons and Soldiers, Bruce Henderson focuses one one of the previously untold stories from the war: the story of The Ritchie Boys – men who fled Nazi Germany, grew up in the United States, and returned to Europe to fight fascism as part of the U.S. Army.
The story of The Ritchie Boys is both an important one to tell and an important one to read about. Henderson follows the boys from the time they were children, through their escapes, to their role in helping the Allies to defeat Adolf Hitler. He masterfully weaves together in-depth research and presents it in a manner that keeps readers engaged – from the first page to the final page.
• Hardcover: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (July 25, 2017)
Joining the ranks of Unbroken, Band of Brothers, and Boys in the Boat, the little-known saga of young German Jews, dubbed The Ritchie Boys, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, came of age in America, and returned to Europe at enormous personal risk as members of the U.S. Army to play a key role in the Allied victory.
In 1942, the U.S. Army unleashed one of its greatest secret weapons in the battle to defeat Adolf Hitler: training nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special interrogation techniques and making use of their mastery of the German language, history, and customs. Known as the Ritchie Boys, they were sent in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they interrogated German POWs and gathered crucial intelligence that saved American lives and helped win the war.
Though they knew what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured, the Ritchie Boys eagerly joined the fight to defeat Hitler. As they did, many of them did not know the fates of their own families left behind in occupied Europe. Taking part in every major campaign in Europe, they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions. A postwar Army report found that more than sixty percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.
Bruce Henderson draws on personal interviews with many surviving veterans and extensive archival research to bring this never-before-told chapter of the Second World War to light. Sons and Soldiers traces their stories from childhood and their escapes from Nazi Germany, through their feats and sacrifices during the war, to their desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones in war-torn Europe. Sons and Soldiers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten.
About Bruce Henderson
Bruce Henderson is the author or coauthor of more than twenty nonfiction books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell. He lives in Menlo Park, California.