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The General

Alex Kershaw and Richard Ernsberger, Jr. The General: William Levine, Citizen Soldier and Liberator, from Normandy to Dachau to Service in America. Chicago, Pritzker Military Museum & Library (2016).

This book is, as the forward indicates, a portrait of “a family man, a businessman, and a devoted man of faith.” On that ground alone, it is valuable. When I grew up in the 1950s and 60s, there were many adults in my life who met that description, but their personal stories are largely untold. The story of William Levine helps me to understand them better. Many of those I knew had served in World War II, but almost all were happy to leave the military behind them when the war ended. Those veterans continued to serve in many civic capacities, and so did Levine, but he also was motivated to sign up for the US Army Reserve, where he served with distinction. Like so many, however, he kept his World War II experiences to himself for decades. When he was ready to share the stories that had been hidden in his wartime foot locker, there were floods of memories. His accounts of the liberation of Dachau and the aftermath of that event in his own life are the central features of this gem of a book, which was written by two very gifted writers.

In his Author! Author! blog series, Museum president Gary T. Johnson highlights works that draw on our collection.

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