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The Force: The Legendary Special Ops Unit and WWII’s Mission Impossible

In December of 1943, as Nazi forces sprawled around the world and the future of civilization hung in the balance, a group of highly trained U.S. and Canadian soldiers from humble backgrounds was asked to do the impossible: capture a crucial Nazi stronghold perched atop stunningly steep cliffs. The men were a rough-and-ready group, assembled from towns nested in North America's most unforgiving terrain, where many of them had struggled through the Great Depression relying on canny survival skills and the fearlessness of youth. Brought together by the promise to take part in the military's most elite missions, they formed a unique brotherhood tested first by the crucible of state-of-the-art training-including skiing, rock climbing, and parachuting-and then tragically by the vicious fighting they would face.

The early battle in the Italian theatre for the strategic fort cost the heroic U.S.-Canadian commando unit-their first special forces unit ever assembled-enormous casualties. Yet the victory put them in position to continue their drive into Italy, setting the stage for the Allies' resurgence toward victory in WWII. The unit, with its vast range of capabilities and mission-specific exercises, became a model for the "Green Berets" and other special forces groups that would go on to accomplish America's most challenging undertakings behind enemy lines.

Following this intimate group of soldiers from recruitment through brutal training and into their baptism by fire in Italy, where the outcome of their raid was secured only at enormous cost, The Force describes how these too-often forgotten heroes managed a string of incredible feats with strategic importance to WWII. Knitting first-hand accounts seamlessly into the narrative-drawing on interviews with surviving members and their families; the memoirs, letters, and diaries of Forcemen; and declassified documents in the American, Canadian, British, and German archives -- The Force tells a story that is as deeply personal as it is inspiring.

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Reviews of The Force: The Legendary Special Ops Unit and WWII’s Mission Impossible

" A very fine book... [David] has both a knack with the pen and a nose for a thrilling tale... Special forces are always cool...and books relating their exploits are always exciting, especially when related in so masterly a style... Where [he] breaks the mould, and shows off his skill as a historian, are his lively chapters on the high-level debates... Even the Germans, who so often perform the role of faceless villains inevitably described as "crack troops," are given a point of view, a personality and a purpose. 'The Force' is quite rare in encompassing not only the tip of the spear but also who threw the spear, how the spear was thrown, the people it was being thrown at and why it was thrown in the first place... Readers should exult in 'The Force', whose heroic subjects deserve to be forever remembered."

Alexander Rose, Wall Street Journal

"[David's] poignant, highly readable narrative is a fitting tribute to the heroism of these soldiers... While David rightly celebrates the heroism of the Force, he never loses sigh of the grimness and tragedy of war. His account brings wartime experience - the gruelling training, the ferocity of combat - vividly to life with an immediacy that is breathtaking.""

Graeme Voyer, Winnipeg Free Press

""Riveting and harrowing... David does a remarkable job in bringing these rugged, non-conforming men back to life...[He] has written an important, highly engaging work that is, as novelist Raymond Chandler once wrote of a book he was reviewing, unputdownable.""

Paul Dickson, Washington Independent Review of Books

"[An] action-packed tale... David vividly recounts their scaling a 200-foot sheer cliff wall on a cold, blustery night; engaging in heavy battle with the German defenders; and, after sustaining many casualties, emerging triumphant, haven opened the way to Rome. He works the soldiers; individual stories into the narrative, adding heart to the derring-do. This thrilling history will captivate readers."

Publishers Weekly

"A mesmerizing read that blends strategy with tactics and traditions, narrating in gritty detail the  1943 mountain battle by a small, dauntless American-Canadian force. This was the battlefield birth of our Special Operations Forces. A compelling tale of human valor, doubts, mistakes and victory, honestly told."

Bing West, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, author of The Village and coauthor with Jim Mattis of Callsign Chaos

"This remarkable story of the most unique special operations unit in Allied service during World War II throws you into battle during the meat grinder campaign in Italy, where the men of the Force displayed exceptional loyalty to each other and courage under fire all while undertaking some of the most difficult missions of the war. Told at soldier's-eye level, The Force is a gripping and awe-inspiring account of a storied unit and a legendary battle."

John R. Bruning, bestselling author of Race of Aces and Indestructible

"The Force provides incredible insight into the formation, development, and performance of the U.S. Army Special Forces Group, which traces its lineage to these fearless men. With his incomparable gift for storytelling, Saul David captures the brotherhood forged in war, the tragedy and chaos of battle, and the rich tradition of American tactical brilliance that these elite soldiers helped to launch."

David M. Reel, Executive Director, West Point Museum

"Compelling and well-researched, The Force is an uplifting story of bravery, duty, and honor, an account of men who found the courage to take on an impossible mission-and prevail against all odds."

Howard Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Invasion and The Last Goodnight

"A riveting story...Saul David brings us a superb tale, well told."

Gregory A. Freeman, bestselling author of The Forgotten 500

"The First Special Service Force created in 1942 was a unique elite unit...As Saul David makes clear in this stirring account of their heroics, they did much more than their share and established precedents for the U.S. and Canadian Special Forces of today."

James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Battle-Cry of Freedom

"With impeccable research and a keen eye for detail, Saul David has brought to life the surprising story of the original band of brothers. You can draw a vivid line from the make-or-break WWII battles of these daring soldiers to today's US Army's Special Forces...Saul David does us -- and history -- a service by dramatizing how and why that 'tip of the spear' was forged. These brave citizen-soldiers did the impossible, and The Force honors their brotherhood, triumph, and ultimate sacrifices. An essential part of anyone's library."

Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers and In Harm's Way

"The Force brilliantly recounts the heroic exploits of the U.S. and Canadian First Special Operations team tasked with decommissioning a supposedly impregnable Nazi stronghold. Every chapter is filled with harrowing adventure, life and death struggle, and bedrock patriotism. The amount of new cutting-edge research is impressive. A monumental achievement!"

Douglas Brinkley, #1 New York Times bestselling author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race