Churchill’s Band of Brothers Cover

Churchill’s Band of Brothers

WWII’s Most Daring D-Day Mission and the Hunt to Take Down Hitler’s Fugitive War Criminals

Damien Lewis

Citadel Press, New York, 2021, 400 pages

Book Review published on: July 23, 2021

Bestselling author and military historian Damien Lewis is known for his books on World War II, especially the operations of the British Special Air Service (SAS). His latest work, Churchill’s Band of Brothers: WWII’s Most Daring D-Day Mission and the Hunt to Take Down Hitler’s Fugitive War Criminals, is another worthy addition. Although a history, Churchill’s Band of Brothers reads like an action-packed spy thriller complete with daring operations, betrayal, murder, escape, and the hunt for justice.

Churchill’s Band of Brothers tells the story of the SAS and Special Operations Executive operations in France in the weeks and months after D-Day and the German countermeasures to try to stop them, shedding light on a secret war that not much is known about. As Lewis shows, the operations gathered crucial intelligence, but the operators paid a heavy price, especially those taken captive. They were considered terrorists by the Germans, and once members were captured, the German “Commando Order” called for their execution. The book also discusses SAS recruitment and training through the eyes of its members and tells the reader about the individuals on the ill-fated operations. Furthermore, the author provides insight into the Allied pursuit of German war criminals in the chaotic environment of post-World War II Europe. Lewis describes the unrelenting pursuit of the perpetrators by their comrades in the SAS, even when the SAS was ordered to disband, as they searched for the guilty to bring justice for their comrades.

The author acknowledges the difficulty in reconstructing events that did not have detailed records and when the participants were dead. Yet through extensive research and a very clear, easy writing style, Lewis is able to bring the participants to life and weave a fascinating but tragic story. The author also raises serious questions about postwar decisions not to prosecute some of the perpetrators in the interests of intelligence agencies, thus shielding them from justice. Furthermore, the author is critical of both the British government and military in their treatment and honoring of the SAS following the war.

I recommend this book to all readers for its fascinating and little-known story. Those readers interested in special operations history as well as those interested in postwar Europe and the prosecution of war criminals will find it particularly compelling. Churchill’s Band of Brothers offers many lessons and questions for readers to ponder.

Book Review written by: Robert J. Rielly, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas