A Novel of World War II and the Red Ball Express
By David L. Robbins
(Bantam, Paperback, 9780553381757, 480pp.)
Publication Date: October 25, 2005
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With his acclaimed novels of World War II, David L. Robbins awakened a generation to the drama, tragedy, and heroism of some of history’s greatest battles. Now he delivers a gripping and authentic story set against one of our greatest wartime achievements: the Red Ball Express, six thousand trucks and twenty-three thousand men–most of them African-American–who forged a lifeline of supplies in the Allied struggle to liberate France.
June 1944. The Allies deliver a staggering blow to Hitler’s Atlantic fortress, leaving the beaches and bluffs of Normandy strewn with corpses. The Germans have only one chance to stop the immense invasion–by bottling up the Americans on the Cotentin Peninsula. There, in fields crisscrossed with dense hedgerows, many will meet their death while others will search for signs of life. Among the latter are two very different men, each with his own demons to fight and his own reasons to risk his life for his fellow man.
Joe Amos Biggs is an invisible “colored” driver in the Red Ball Express, the unheralded convoy of trucks that serves as a precious lifeline to the front. Delivering fuel and ammunition to men whose survival depends on the truckers, Joe Amos finds himself hungering to make his mark and propelled into battle among those who don’t see him as an equal–but will need him to be a hero.
A chaplain in the demoralized 90th Infantry, Rabbi Ben Kahn is a veteran of the first great war and old enough to be the father of the GIs he tends. Searching for the truth about his own son, a downed pilot missing in action, Kahn finds himself dueling with God, wading into combat without a gun, and becoming a leader among men in need of someone–anyone–to follow.
The prize: the liberation of Paris, where a ruthless American traitor known as Chien Blanc–White Dog–grows fat and rich in the black market. Whatever the occupied city’s destiny, destroyed or freed, he will win.
The fates of these three men will collide, hurtling toward an uncommon destiny in which people commit deeds they cannot foresee and can never truly explain.
From the screams of German .88 howitzers to the last whispers of dying young soldiers, Robbins captures war in all its awful fullness. And through the eyes of his unique characters, he leaves us with a mature, brilliant, and memorable vision of humanity in the face of inhumanity itself.
DAVID L. ROBBINS is the author of War of the Rats, The End of War, Scorched Earth, and Last Citadel. A former attorney, he lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he is at work on his next historical thriller.
"Robbins--emerging as the Homer of WWII--re-creates the mighty drama in all its deadly beauty."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"David Robbins has done it again. In LIBERATION ROAD, he presents an inspirational WWII tale of personal courage and racial tension through the eyes of a rabbi chaplain and an African-American truck driver on the Red Ball Express--the twenty three thousand men manning the six thousand trucks that transported the beans and bullets needed to defeat Germany. A riveting read."
--James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers & Flyboys
"Powerful... a compelling tale of the final days of the most catastrophic event in tall of recorded history."
--Washington Post on The End of War
"Deeply-felt. Robbins renders his real people superbly but the heart of his story is his imagined cast. Brilliant storytelling by an author in absolute control of his material."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The End of War