Uncle Ted

A GI's Journal of World War II

Non-Fiction - Historical
368 Pages
Reviewed on 01/03/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Uncle Ted: A GI's Journal of World War II is a work of non-fiction in the historical, biography, and military writing subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience, Penned by author Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby, this engrossing historical narrative follows the journey of the author’s relative, Uncle Ted, from his draft into the army in 1941 to the conclusion of WWII. The book weaves a vivid tapestry of Ted's varied experiences and those that shaped his attitude and personality as the man she knew. From serving as a gunner with the Air Corps in B-17s to driving a truck for the Red Ball Express, Ted's journey is both diverse and poignant.

Author Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby has lovingly crafted a truly immersive experience into the life of an American G.I. during one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Her dedication to preserving family history is evident on every page, bringing Uncle Ted's story to life with a perfectly balanced blend of historical accuracy and emotional depth. So many battles, conflicts, and difficult situations are vividly (though never gratuitously) portrayed through Ted's lens, capturing the terror and courage of the soldiers who faced horrors we can scarcely imagine. The confident narrative steers us through these horrors safely, also stopping to note the many sacrifices made by individuals like Ted during World War II. The author’s attention to detail, atmosphere, and storytelling prowess ensure that Uncle Ted's experiences are not just documented but profoundly felt on every level. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Uncle Ted to readers of military history and personal memoirs everywhere.

Grant Leishman

Uncle Ted: A GI’s Journal of World War II by Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby is much more than just a fascinating insight into the life of an ordinary soldier serving in Europe during the war. It is also a detailed and careful analysis of the major participants in one of the most influential final campaigns of World War II; the last attempt by Germany to breach the Allied Lines, the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. The narrative follows Uncle Ted from his rebellious teenage years when he and his friends would often “ride the rails,” jumping on passing freight trains to see where they ended up, right through to his eventual discharge from the Army after the Japanese unconditional surrender. Having been drafted in 1941, Ted quickly realized he didn’t want to be in the infantry and volunteered for the Army Air Corps, where he became a gunner on B-17s. After a misdemeanor, he then found himself training drivers for the trucks that carried supplies to the front line and wounded and killed soldiers back. Despite all his plans, Ted did end up in the infantry and in 1944 was parachuted into the Siegfried Line on the Belguim-German border, where he joined the Allies in one of the bloodiest and deadliest battles of the war. Ultimately, Ted and his comrades would participate in the final push toward Berlin.

Uncle Ted is both a personal journal of one sergeant’s war and also a recounting and analysis of the final year of the war in Europe. Author Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby has presented an incredibly well-researched and in-depth analysis of the Battle of the Bulge and the push into Germany, as well as other aspects of World War II. What makes this book so successful is the mix of Ted’s observations and feelings as a simple infantryman amongst hundreds of thousands with an analysis of the actions, motivations, and decision-making of the major participants in the conflict including Hitler, Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and many more. Uncle Ted was not presented as anything other than what he was, a simple soldier, full of fear, doubt, and at times hopelessness, whose only mission that mattered to him was to survive the war and get home to the wife and child he barely knew. I enjoyed that Ted had a mischievous streak as evidenced by the number of times he found himself experiencing military discipline. The detail of the reality of the conditions the GIs experienced in the harshest winter for decades, that they were forced to endure in the Ardennes, was wonderfully described. Readers will feel the cold, suffering, and pain that the soldiers endured as they faced death from the enemy at any moment. The number of casualties in that one conflict was utterly staggering, as was the casualty list for the entirety of World War II. I was carried along on Uncle Ted’s journey and simply could not put this book down. I can highly recommend this read.

Frank Mutuma

Dr Barbara M. Panther-Gibby captures his life from early on to his service in the military in Uncle Ted: A GI's Journal of World War II. Ted had an interesting life since his teenage years. He is not very good at school, and after one embarrassing incident, he quits and has training in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He works with the railroad, and despite this being considered essential for the war effort at the time, Ted doesn't contest being drafted. He is placed with different groups, but his most intense experiences are with the 99th US division and later on with the 393rd regiment under General Patton himself. To learn more about Ted's life and experiences in the war, get a copy of Uncle Ted by Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby.

One of the things that stands out in Uncle Ted by Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby is the author's attention to the details of the events of the Second World War. The book expertly captures not only the battles but is also thought-provoking about the effects of war. For instance, Ted not seeing his daughter, who is already a year old by the time he is discharged. The numerous details provided also showed that the book is well-researched and informative. The author did an excellent job of capturing the major events in Ted's life. Her vivid descriptions of events and emotions help capture the reader's attention, giving a unique perspective on war, what ordinary people go through, and their thoughts. I also loved how Ted's character is portrayed; for example, his struggle with authority made him humane and relatable. Those who love memoirs, biographies, and historical and military nonfiction will appreciate this amazing book. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Keith Mbuya

Perhaps the most painful and significant events of the twentieth century were World War I and II. Many lives were lost, and others were changed forever. Many soldiers participated in these wars and never made it out alive to tell their stories. For those who did, we honor them for their service and cherish their rare tales of these significant times in world history. Dr. Barbara M. Panther-Gibby shares raw accounts of World War II veteran Ted, her uncle, in the memoir Uncle Ted: A GI’s Journal of World War II. Grab a copy and discover more about Uncle Ted’s war experiences from when he was drafted into the US. Army in 1941 to his discharge in 1945.

Uncle Ted: A GI’s Journal of World War II by Barbara M. Panther-Gibby is a rich fountain of precious, yet painful history. Uncle Ted’s anecdotes and memories opened a tragic historical door for me, taking me back to World War II with relevant details that captured the mood and setting of the 1930s and 40s. Accompanied by historical details of profound depth, this book gave me great insight into the political, social, and economic dynamics that sparked and surrounded the war for all the nations that were involved, especially Germany, Russia, England, Japan, and the USA. The reading experience felt like watching a compelling World War II documentary. This biography is a must-read for history enthusiasts and those wanting a clear picture of the events of World War II.