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Beyond “Band of Brothers”, The war memoirs of Major Dick Winters

Beyond Band of BrothersOne doesn’t need to have an interest in military history to enjoy this book, It’s a tremendous opportunity to get inside the head of Major Dick Winters, the Commander of the famed Easy Company featured in the “Band of Brothers” the HBO 10-part mini-series that originally aired back in 2001. Not a rehash of the TV series nor the original book written by Stephen Ambrose, this book is an in-depth look at Dick Winters the man, a war hero and level headed no-nonsense leader. Known and respected by many, Dick had the uncanny ability to repeatedly “get the job done” by motivating those around him against all odds. Dick paratrooped into Normandy on D-day, led his men through the Battle of the Bulge, suffered the cold of Bastogne, and eventually captured Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” retreat mansion. A gift from my wife this Christmas, I couldn’t retire the book until it was finished. I was inspired to walk with Dick as he wrestled through the things he could and could not control — and observe how he moved the plan forward amidst what was often total chaos. More about leadership that any other objective, I was amazed at how he repeatedly picked his team to best match the task at hand. For Dick, success was less about military tactics and strategy … and more about knowing his men, their strengths and weaknesses and choosing accordingly. Most are probably aware of the award-winning HBO mini-series (as of 2001 it was the most expensive production at a cost of 125 million) but few know that Dick Winters was born and raised in Lancaster County, PA… and settled in Hershey, PA. after the war, where he lived until his passing in January 2011 at the age of 92. Dick was never one to seek the limelight, and it’s in real Dick Winters’ style that he summarized his experience. “ War brings out the worst and best in people. Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men. War is romantic only to those who are far away from the sounds and turmoil of battle. But each of us hoped that if we had learned anything from the experience, it is that war is unreal and we earnestly hoped that it would never happen again.”

As a parting thought, I wonder if corporate America would be well advised to look to former military men and women as a source for stellar leadership skills that have been proven under-fire, so to speak. What do you think?