Friday, July 25, 2014

Leading the Way: Darby's Ranger Noel Dye by A.H. Durshimer III

Genre: Biography, WWII
Source: Purchased a copy

I had the privilege of meeting the author at a summer workshop. We work in the same district. When I overheard him discussing his book, I looked it up online. I immediately did two things. I ordered the book and scheduled it’s review. I then took my card to him and told him what day the review would be posted.  I was that interested in the book.

Art is extremely knowledgeable about the Vietnam War and the World Wars. Through a friend he had the opportunity to meet Noel Dye, who was one of Darby’s Rangers.  I had heard of Darby’s Rangers. I had watched the movie.  I did not know who Noel Dye was.  Art has skillfully taken this man’s story and told it in a way that you feel like you are sitting in on the interviews.  For me that is important.  I have limited knowledge of wars.  When some part or some person in a war peaks my interest then I dig deeper and learn more.  This book has once again set me on that path and made it easier for me because it included a bibliography.  With all of the facts I was afraid it would read like a list of battle facts.  This is so far from the truth.  I was very impressed with not only the story, but the writing of the story.

Noel is a very down to earth person.  One thing that was obvious as he was telling the story to the author was how vivid his memories were.  My mother and I were discussing this. Her father fought in WWI.  She said the one thing that haunted him was sitting in a fox hole with his buddy having a conversation. When his buddy didn’t answer he looked over and saw his head had been blown off.  She remarked that he had said it just so matter-of-fact.  This is how Noel talks of his injuries and losing his buddies.  These are memories that never leave you.  Hopefully the soldier finds a way to deal with them so they no longer haunt them.

Two other things I loved about this book.  There are a collection of letters that Noel’s family had saved for him. In this way we see what was going through his mind, and how little he was able to relay to his family.  The other thing was the pictures he graciously allowed the author to put into the book. I am very pleased I overheard his conversation mentioning his book.  The funny thing in all of this is that you would think that with such a love of history that Art would teach that subject.  He teaches English.  In my book this makes his students extremely lucky.  When he has to find extra reading materials, be it books, essays, letters, etc. to go with his lesson, he is in a position to do so. He has a wealth of knowledge in his hands. Any parent would be lucky to have him for a teacher. He is currently working on another book. I look forward to reading it when he has it finished.


About the Author

Art Durshimer is a high-school English and journalism teacher in Bradenton, FL. He is married and the father of three children. Durshimer, 56, spent 25 years in various newsrooms as a reporter and editor. He began teaching 11 years ago, fulfilling a longtime goal of working with young people. His wife, Meg, also is a former journalist who now teaches elementary school. Durshimer is a lifelong history buff, a habit he indulges through historical re-enactments and presentations of World War II and the Vietnam War era. He, his wife and children all are Florida natives; his sons Ben, 18, and Jake, 20, are the fourth generation of his family born in the state. Durshimer’s daughter, Amy, and his three grandchildren live near Athens, Ga. His hobbies include historical re-enactments, reading (favorite author is Pat Conroy), writing and beachcombing with his wife on Florida’s gulf and Atlantic beaches.

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