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Given up for Dead

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Given Up For Dead : American GI's in the Nazi Concentration Camp at Berga was written by Pulitzer Prize nominated author, Flint Whitlock, a former U.S. Army Officer who served a tour of duty in Vietnam. Whitlock was inspired to write this book after viewing a PBS documentary that first aired in 2003, called Berga: Soldiers of a Different War by filmmaker, Charles Guggenheim. It was the first time that Whitlock and many other Americans ever head of the concentration camp at Berga, located near Berga-an-der-Elster, in Germany and the American service men that were incarcerated in it. For decades, it has remained a mystery due to secrecy agreements by a government consensus to cover up the truth about the 350 American prisoners of war that lived and were worked to death, or near death there.

The author clearly states his purpose for writing this book in the prologue. What happened to the brave soldiers during battle, and afterward as prisoners of war is virtually an unknown story of "fear, courage, desperation, brutality, survival, triumph, and betrayal" that the author feels compelled to make known. It is a straightforward, factual report of the events leading up to the capture of these men, the shocking account of what they endured during their time as slave laborers, and most telling, how the men were treated once liberated and what their lives were like afterward, ranging from the efforts extended to help them recover from their physical wounds to the coercion used to make many of the men sign secrecy agreements that prevented them from ever talking about their experiences while prisoner's of war.

The book is based on the personal testimony of the GI's themselves and opens with an introduction to 7 young recruits to the United States Army, all but one Jewish. It is organized chronologically beginning with some intimate biographical history of the 7 soldiers who share their horrific and awe inspiring story throughout the book.

The author's research appears more than adequate, even tediously factual at points. Throughout the book, the author provides the reader with ample historical background information. It is obvious that the author was, himself, a soldier engaged in active duty during wartime. There were points where his vocabulary and seemingly layman's explanation using battle vernacular went way over my head. The book was complete with footnotes, many many direct quotations from soldiers directly involved, maps, and photographs. It was all very useful to help the reader follow along the sometimes complicated explanation of events. The photographs, in particular, really drew me in and captured my attention. Not only did the reader get to read personal accounts of the GI's experiences, we get to put a face to the name, which really had a tremendous effect on me. Among the sources in the bibliography were 14 oral accounts directly from the soldiers in

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