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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Answering the Call: With the 91st Infantry Division in the Italian Campaign During World War II is a military biography written by Stephen L. Wilson. His father, Allen Wilson, was just entering college as a freshman when word came that Hitler had invaded Poland. He had planned to major in Economics, but had switched to Government after attending an introductory course taught by Dr. William Farber, who became both a friend and a mentor. At that time, the University of South Dakota required that all male freshmen participate in two years of basic ROTC training, with an additional two-year Advanced Course being voluntary. Allen participated in both courses and was also active in several honorary military societies. He also became a teaching assistant for Farber and the house manager for his fraternity. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Allen knew he wanted to serve as an officer in the US Army. Advanced Course cadets in their junior year of college were advised to accelerate their coursework in order to allow them to graduate after their fall semester. Allen was one of them. He would serve his country on the field of battle and then as a Reserves officer until 1954, when he left with the rank of Captain.
Stephen L. Wilson’s Answering the Call: With the 91st Infantry Division in the Italian Campaign During World War II follows the exploits of the Cannon Company of the 91st infantry and sheds light on an aspect of the Allied efforts that is often overlooked. While I’ve read a number of excellent memoirs and biographical accounts of both World Wars, I was not all that familiar with the Italian Campaign and the hardships endured by the military in the Apennines while they were engaged in breaking through the Gothic Line. This book is also remarkable in its descriptions of the training exercises Allen and his fellow soldiers participated in before leaving the United States, as well as in sharing the efforts and struggles his wife endured as she raised their infant daughter on her own while he was overseas for 18 months. His involvement as a part of the deNazification efforts in Austria, and later as an Officer in the Reserves, also serve to make this a unique and vital part of the history of American involvement in World War II. Wilson includes a number of photographs of Allen and his fellow soldiers in Italy as well as historical documentation. He also includes end notes, a list of Sources, and an index - all of which I found to be quite useful. Answering the Call: With the 91st Infantry Division in the Italian Campaign During World War II is most highly recommended.