World War I soldier Alvin York became a legend when Gary Cooper played him in a blockbuster biopic. Here, Nelson unspools a more complicated narrative about York's heroics, giving voice to the sixteen other soldiers who fought beside him during his most celebrated mission.
... the author transports readers back in time, giving them not just a story about people but also a picture of what their world was like. His intent here isn’t to disprove or debunk the York legend—the man was a true hero, that much is indisputable—but rather to augment it, to add to what we know about Alvin York so that we can better understand what made him a hero. A stirring account of an important incident and time in American history.
While his narration of the movement of York’s unit, and the wider strategy of the American Expeditionary Forces, are sometimes ponderous, his reconstruction of the details of the 'York Patrol,' and how the York legend developed are solidly done. However, Nelson’s work is marred by an overuse of colloquialisms ... In addition, Nelson does not take advantage of recent World War I historiography. It would have been beneficial if Nelson explained why German soldiers were more willing to surrender by the fall of 1918 ... A flawed work that will probably best suit World War I completists.
... an exhaustively researched but mercifully compact study ... A conscientious work, it’s at once an overwritten and underwritten addition to the York bookshelf ... The author’s description of the action is so detailed and convoluted that I had to reread [one] portion of his account several times while consulting the book’s single battle map. Finally, I resorted to the old movie on Amazon Prime to better envision what York actually did that epic day. If his battle scenes are hard to follow, Mr. Nelson’s purplish after-action prose can be pretty hard going, too.