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Band of Brothers (miniseries)
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Television show information

Genre

War drama

Written by

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Directed by

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Starring

see Cast below

Country of origin

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Original language(s)

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Production

Distributor

HBO Home Entertainment (home video)

Broadcast

Original network

HBO

Chronology

Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had collaborated on the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan.[1] The episodes first aired in 2001 on HBO. The series won Emmy and Golden Globe awards in 2001 for best miniseries.

The series dramatizes the history of "Easy" Company (part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe, and up until Japan's capitulation and war's end. The events portrayed are based on Ambrose's research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. The series took literary license, adapting the recorded history for the purposes of dramatic effect and series structure.[2][3][4] All of the characters portrayed are based on members of Easy Company. Some of the men were recorded in contemporary interviews, which viewers see as preludes to each episode. The men's identities are not revealed until the finale.

The title for the book and the series comes from the St Crispin's Day Speech in William Shakespeare's play Henry V, delivered by Henry V of England before the Battle of Agincourt. Ambrose quotes a passage from the speech on his book's first page; this passage is spoken by Carwood Lipton in the series' finale.

Plot

Script error: No such module "main". Band of Brothers is a dramatized account of "Easy Company" (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment), assigned to the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Over the course of ten episodes, the series details the company's exploits during the war. Starting with jump training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Band of Brothers follows the unit through the American airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and on to the war's end. It includes the taking of the Eagle's Nest at Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden and refers to the surrender of Japan. Major Richard Winters (1918–2011) is the central character featured, shown working to accomplish the missions and keep his men together and safe. While the series features a large ensemble cast, each episode generally focuses on a single character, following his actions during certain events (for example, the Siege of Bastogne or Operation Market Garden).[1]

As the series is based on historic events, the fates of the characters conform to the persons from which they are drawn. Numerous characters die or sustain serious wounds, some of which lead to survivors' being sent home; in other cases, soldiers recover under treatment in hospital and can rejoin their comrades on the front lines. Their experiences and the moral, mental, and physical hurdles they must overcome are central to the story.

Production

The series was developed chiefly by Tom Hanks and Erik Jendresen, who spent months detailing the plot outline and individual episodes.[5] Steven Spielberg served as "the final eye" and used Saving Private Ryan, the film which he and Hanks had collaborated on, to inform the series.[6] Accounts of Easy Company veterans such as Donald Malarkey were incorporated into production to add historic detail.[6]

Budget and promotion

File:Band of Brothers poster.jpg

Promotional poster for Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers was the most expensive television miniseries made by HBO or any other television network when it was created.[7][8] This record was superseded by the series' 2010 sister show, The Pacific.[9][10][11] The budget for Band of Brothers was approximately $125 million, which comes to an average of $12.5 million per episode.[6] An additional $15 million was allocated for the promotional campaign, which included hosting screenings for World War II veterans.[7]

One of those screenings was held at Utah Beach, Normandy, where US troops landed on June 6, 1944. On June 7, 2001, 47 Easy Company veterans were flown to Paris and then travelled by chartered train to the site, where the series premiered.[12][13] Also sponsoring the miniseries was Chrysler, as its Jeeps were used to great extent in the series.[14] Chrysler spent $5 to $15 million on its advertising campaign, based on and using footage from Band of Brothers.[14] Each of the spots was reviewed and approved by co-executive producers Hanks and Spielberg.[14]

The BBC paid £7 million ($10.1 million) as co-production partner, the most it had ever paid for a bought-in program, and screened it on BBC Two. Originally, it was to have aired on BBC One, but was moved to allow an "uninterrupted 10-week run" with a denial that the move was because the series was not mainstream enough.[15][16] Negotiations were monitored by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who personally spoke to co-executive producer Spielberg.[17]

Location

The series was shot over 8 to 10 months at Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire, England. Various sets, including replicas of European towns, were built there.[13] This location had also been used to shoot the film Saving Private Ryan.[6][8] Replicas were constructed on the large open field to represent twelve different towns, including Bastogne, Belgium; Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Carentan, France.[18] North Weald Airfield in Essex was also used for location shots depicting the take-off sequences before the D-Day Normandy landings.

The village of Hambleden, in Buckinghamshire, England, was used as a location extensively in the early episodes to depict the site of the company's training in England, as well as in later scenes. The scenes set in Germany and Austria were shot in Switzerland, in and near the village of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland, and at the nearby Hotel Giessbach.

Historical accuracy

To preserve historical accuracy, the various writers conducted additional research. One source was the memoir of Easy Company soldier David Kenyon Webster. Written after the war from the diary he kept, his memoir Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich was published by LSU Press in 1994, following renewed interest in World War II and almost 40 years after Webster's death in a boating accident. (Ambrose had quoted liberally from Webster's then-unpublished diary entries, with permission of his estate, in his 1992 book.)

The production team consulted with Dale Dye, a retired Marine Captain and consultant on Saving Private Ryan, as well as most of the surviving Easy Company veterans at the time, such as Richard Winters, Bill Guarnere, Frank Perconte, Ed Heffron, and Amos Taylor.[6][19] Dye (who plays the role of Colonel Robert Sink) instructed the actors portraying soldiers in a 10-day boot camp.[19]

The production worked for accuracy in details of weapons and costumes. Simon Atherton, the weapons master, corresponded with veterans to match weapons to scenes, and assistant costume designer Joe Hobbs extensively used photos and veteran accounts.[6]

Most actors had contact before filming with the individuals they were to portray, often by telephone. Several of the veterans came to the production site.[6] Hanks acknowledged alterations were needed to create the series: "We've made history fit onto our screens. We had to condense down a vast number of characters, fold other people's experiences into 10 or 15 people, have people saying and doing things others said or did. We had people take off their helmets to identify them, when they would never have done so in combat. But I still think it is three or four times more accurate than most films like this."[13] As a final accuracy check, the veterans saw previews of the series and approved the episodes before they were aired.[20]

Liberation of one of the Kaufering subcamps of Dachau was depicted in Episode 9 "Why We Fight", however, the 101st Airborne Division arrived at Kaufering Lager IV subcamp on the day after[21] it was discovered by the 134th Ordinance Maintenance Battalion of the 12th Armored Division on 27 April 1945.[22][23]

It is uncertain which Allied military unit was the first to reach the Kehlsteinhaus; several claim the honor. The matter is compounded by popular confusion of it and the town of Berchtesgaden taken on May 4 by forward elements of the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division of XV Corps of the U.S. Seventh Army of the Sixth Army Group.[24][25][lower-alpha 1]

Reputedly members of the 7th went as far as the elevator to the Kehlsteinhaus,[24] with at least one individual claiming he and a partner continued on to the top.[28]

However, the 101st Airborne maintains it was first both to Berchtesgaden and the Kehlsteinhaus. [29] Also, elements of the French 2nd Armored Division, Laurent Touyeras, Georges Buis and Paul Répiton-Préneuf, were present on the night of May 4 to 5, and took several photographs before leaving on May 10 at the request of US command.[30][31] and so says the numerous testimonies the Spanish soldiers who went along with them.

Cast and characters

Since Band of Brothers focuses entirely on the exploits of "E" (Easy) Company during World War II, the series features a large ensemble cast.

Appearing in all ten episodes:

  • Damian Lewis as Major Richard "Dick" Winters, the show's main character. He leads the cast for most of the episodes and is the main subject of the second episode "Day of Days", the fifth episode "Crossroads", and the final episode, "Points". Hanks said the production needed a central character to tie the story together, and they believed that Damian Lewis was best for that role.[32]
  • Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon, Major Winters' best friend and frequent confidant during the series. The ninth episode "Why We Fight" largely centers on him, dealing with his problems with alcoholism, in particular.
  • Donnie Wahlberg as Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton. The seventh episode "The Breaking Point" features Lipton prominently and shows the importance he played in maintaining the company's morale.
  • Scott Grimes as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey
  • Peter Youngblood Hills as Staff Sergeant Darrell "Shifty" Powers
  • Shane Taylor as Technician Fifth Grade Eugene "Doc" Roe. The sixth episode "Bastogne" features Roe's experience as a medic during the siege of Bastogne.
File:BoBWintersNixon.jpg

From left: Damian Lewis as Major Richard Winters and Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon.

Appearing in nine episodes:

  • Rick Gomez as Technician Fourth Grade George Luz
  • Michael Cudlitz as Staff Sergeant Denver "Bull" Randleman. Randleman was the subject of the fourth episode, "Replacements", which featured his escape from a German-occupied village in the Netherlands.
  • Nicholas Aaron as Private First Class Robert "Popeye" Wynn
  • Ross McCall as Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Liebgott
  • James Madio as Technician Fourth Grade Frank Perconte.
  • Philip Barrantini as Private Wayne A. "Skinny" Sisk
  • Dexter Fletcher as Staff Sergeant John "Johnny" Martin

Appearing in eight episodes:

  • Neal McDonough as First Lieutenant Lynn "Buck" Compton
  • George Calil as Sergeant James "Moe" Alley Jr.
  • Nolan Hemmings as Staff Sergeant Chuck Grant
  • Rick Warden as First Lieutenant Harry Welsh
  • Robin Laing as Private First Class Edward "Babe" Heffron
  • Doug Allen as Private Alton More

Appearing in seven episodes or fewer:

  • Dale Dye as Colonel Robert Sink
  • Matthew Leitch as Staff Sergeant Floyd Talbert.
  • Matthew Settle as Captain Ronald Speirs
  • Frank John Hughes as Staff Sergeant William "Wild Bill" Guarnere
  • Kirk Acevedo as Staff Sergeant Joe Toye
  • Eion Bailey as Private First Class David Kenyon Webster. He is the main character in the eighth episode "The Last Patrol".
  • Marc Warren as Private Albert Blithe. The third episode "Carentan" focuses on him.
  • Tim Matthews as Private First Class Alex Penkala
  • Richard Speight, Jr. as Sergeant Warren "Skip" Muck
  • Michael Fassbender as Technical Sergeant Burton "Pat" Christenson
  • Phil McKee as Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Strayer
  • Jamie Bamber as Second Lieutenant Jack E. Foley
  • Rocky Marshall as Staff Sergeant Earl 'One Lung' McClung
  • Ben Caplan as Corporal Walter 'Smokey' Gordon
  • Peter O'Meara as First Lieutenant Norman Dike
  • David Schwimmer as Captain Herbert Sobel. He is the main subject of the first episode "Curahee".
  • Bart Ruspoli as Private Edward Tipper
  • David Nicolle as First Lieutenant Thomas Peacock
  • Stephen McCole as First Lieutenant Frederick Heyliger
  • Jason O'Mara as First Lieutenant Thomas Meehan III
  • Peter McCabe as Corporal Donald Hoobler
  • Rene L. Moreno as Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Ramirez
  • Douglas Spain as Technician Fifth Grade Antonio C. Garcia
  • Adam James as Private Cleveland Petty
  • Mark Huberman as Private Lester A. Hashey
  • Simon Schatzberger as Private First Class Joseph Lesniewski
  • Mark Lawrence as Corporal William Dukeman
  • Kieran O'Brien as Private Allen Vest
  • Colin Hanks as First Lieutenant Henry S. Jones
  • Stephen Graham as Sgt. Myron "Mike" Ranney
  • Tom Hardy as Private John Janovec
  • Matt Hickey as Private Patrick O'Keefe
  • Nigel Hoyle as Staff Sergeant Leo Boyle
  • Alex Sabga as Corporal Frank Mellett
  • Simon Pegg as First Sergeant William S. Evans
  • Andrew Scott as Private John "Cowboy" Hall
  • Luke Griffin as Staff Sergeant Terrence 'Salty' Harris
  • Andrew-Lee Potts as Private First Class Eugene Jackson
  • Stephen Walters as Technician Fifth Grade Jack McGrath
  • James McAvoy as Private James W. Miller
  • Jordan Frieda as Private Kenneth J. Webb
  • Joseph May as Second Lieutenant Edward "Ed" Shames
  • Jimmy Fallon as Lieutenant George C. Rice
  • John Light as Lieutenant Colonel David Dobie
  • Lucie Jeanne as Renée Lemaire

Reception

Critical reception

Band of Brothers received critical acclaim, mixed with doubts about the handling of individual characters.

CNN's Paul Clinton said that the miniseries "is a remarkable testament to that generation of citizen soldiers, who responded when called upon to save the world for democracy and then quietly returned to build the nation that we now all enjoy, and all too often take for granted."[33]

Caryn James of The New York Times called it "an extraordinary 10-part series that masters its greatest challenge: it balances the ideal of heroism with the violence and terror of battle, reflecting what is both civilized and savage about war." James also remarked on the generation gap between most viewers and characters, suggesting this was a significant hurdle.[34]

Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote that the series was "significantly flawed and yet absolutely extraordinary—just like the men it portrays," rating the series four out of four stars. He noted however that it was hard to identify with individual characters during crowded battle scenes.[35]

Tom Shales of The Washington Post wrote that though the series is "at times visually astonishing," it suffers from "disorganization, muddled thinking and a sense of redundancy." Shales observed that the characters are hard to identify: "Few of the characters stand out strikingly against the backdrop of the war. In fact, this show is all backdrop and no frontdrop. When you watch two hours and still aren't quite sure who the main characters are, something is wrong."[36]

Philip French of The Guardian commented that he had "seen nothing in the cinema this past year that impressed me as much as BBC2's 10-part Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and Ken Loach's The Navigators on Channel 4", and that it was "one of the best films ever made about men in war and superior in most ways to Saving Private Ryan."[37] Matt Seaton, also in The Guardian, wrote that the film's production was "on such a scale that in an ad hoc, inadvertent way it gives one a powerful sense of what really was accomplished during the D-Day invasion - the extraordinary logistical effort of moving men and matériel in vast quantities."[38]

Band of Brothers has become a kind of benchmark for World War II series. The German series Generation War, for example, was characterized by critics as Band of Brüder ("Brüder" being the German word for "Brothers").[39]

As of December 2016, Band of Brothers is the second highest-ranking television series on the Internet Movie Database, with an average rating of 9.5/10.[40]

Ratings

The premiere of Band of Brothers on September 9, 2001, drew 10 million viewers.[41] Two days later, the September 11 attacks occurred, and HBO immediately ceased its marketing campaign.[41] The second episode drew 7.2 million viewers.[41] The last episode of the miniseries received 5.1 million viewers, the smallest audience.[42]

Accolades

The series was nominated for twenty Primetime Emmy Awards, and won seven, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special.[43] It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television,[44] American Film Institute Award for TV Movie or Miniseries of the Year,[45] Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television,[46] and the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials,.[47] The show was also selected for a Peabody Award for '...relying on both history and memory to create a new tribute to those who fought to preserve liberty.'[48]

Primetime Emmy Awards

Category Nominee(s) Episode Result
Outstanding Miniseries Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Tony To, Stephen E. Ambrose, Eric Bork, Eric Jendresen, Mary Richards Won
Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television Programming Won
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie Anthony Pratt, Dom Dossett, Alan Tomkins, Kevin Philpps, Desmond Crowe, Malcolm Stone “The Breaking Point” Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Meg Liberman, Camille H. Patton, Angela Terry, Gary Davy, Suzanne M. Smith Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie Remi Adefarasin “The Last Patrol” Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special David Frankel, Tom Hanks, David Nutter, David Leland, Richard Loncraine, Phil Alden Robinson, Mikael Salomon, Tony To Won
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie Helen Smith & Paula Price “Crossroads” Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Michael Riley, Michelle Dougherty, Jeff Miller, Jason Web Nominated
Outstanding Make-up for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Liz Tagg & Nikita Rae “Why We Fight” Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Make-up for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Daniel Parker, Matthew Smith, Duncan Jarman “Day of Days” Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie Frances Parker “Day of Days” Won
Billy Fox “Replacements” Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Campbell Askew, Paul Conway, James Boyle, Ross Adams, Andy Kennedy,Howard Halsall, Robert Gavin, Grahame Peters, Michael Higham, Dashiell Rae, Andie Derrick, Peter Burgis “Day of Days” Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie Colin Charles, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor “Carentan” Won
David Stephenson, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor “Day of Days” Nominated
Colin Charles, Keven Patrick Burns, Todd Orr “The Breaking Point” Nominated
Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Angus Bickerton, John Lockwood, Ken Dailey, Joe Pavlo, Mark Nettleton, Michael Mulholland, Joss Williams, Nigel Stone “Replacements” Nominated
Angus Bickerton, Mat Beck, Cindy Jones, Louis Mackall, Nigel Stone, Karl Mooney, Laurent Hugueniot, Chas Cash “Day of Days” Nominated
Outstanding Stunt Coordination Greg Powell “Carentan” Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Erik Bork, E. Max Frye, Tom Hanks, Erik Jendresen, Bruce C. McKenna, John Orloff, Graham Yost Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Category Nominee Outcome
Best Miniseries or Television Film Won
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Damian Lewis Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Ron Livingston Nominated

Home video releases

All ten parts of the miniseries were released in a DVD box set on November 5, 2002. The set includes five discs containing all the episodes, and a bonus disc with the behind-the-scenes documentary We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company and the video diary of actor Ron Livingston, who played Lewis Nixon. A collector's edition of the box set was also released, containing the same discs but held in a tin case. Band of Brothers is one of the best-selling TV DVD sets of all time,[49] having sold about $250 million worth as of 2010.[50]

The series was released as an exclusive HD DVD TV series in Japan in 2007. With the demise of the format, they are currently out of production. A Blu-ray Disc version of Band of Brothers was released on November 11, 2008 and has become a Blu-ray Disc top seller.[51]

See also

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  • The Pacific

Notes

  1. According to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of U.S forces in Europe, the 3rd Infantry Division was the first to take the town of Berchtesgaden; the "Eagle's Nest" is never mentioned.[26] General Maxwell D. Taylor, former Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division, then attached to the XXI Corps, agreed.[27]

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Drama: Band of Brothers". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved: 2008-06-09.
  2. Biggest Brother: The Life of Dick Winters
  3. Parachute Infantry, an autobiography by David Kenyon Webster
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  15. BBC News: Spielberg epic loses prime slot, August 15, 2001
  16. The true drama of war New Statesman, October 8, 2001
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  24. 24.0 24.1 World War II: Race to Seize Berchtesgaden HistoryNet 12 June 2006
  25. United States Army in World War II, Special Studies, Chronology 1941-1945 [3] "In U.S. Seventh Army's XV Corps area, 7th Inf of 3d Div, crossing into Austria, advances through Salzburg to Berchtesgaden without opposition".
  26. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe 418 (1948) (The exact quote from page 418 reads "On May 4 the 3d division of the same corps captured Berchtesgaden." The corps mentioned was the US XV Corps. The term "Eagle's Nest" is not in the quote nor the paragraph that mentions the capture of Berchtesgaden.
  27. Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares 106 (1972) "3d Division units got into Berchtesgaden ahead of us on the afternoon of May 4"
  28. Library of Congress: Veterans History Project: Interview with Herman Finnell: Herman Louis Finnell of the 3rd Division, 7th Regiment, Company I, stated that he and his ammo carrier, Pfc. Fungerburg, were the first to enter the Eagle's Nest, as well as the secret passages below the structure. Finnell stated that the hallway below the structure had rooms on either side filled with destroyed paintings, evening gowns, as well as destroyed medical equipment and a wine cellar.
  29. Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion 506th Regiment, US 101st Airborne Division: Template:Cite video
  30. Georges Buis and Jean Lacouture, Les Fanfares perdues : Entretiens avec Jean Lacouture, Seuil press, 1975.
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  33. CNN, Enlist TV for 'Band of Brothers' September 7, 2001 Posted: 11:55 AM EDT (1555 GMT)
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  42. HBO's 'Band of Brothers' Draws Series' Smallest Audience for Finale
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  48. 61st Annual Peabody Awards, May 2002.
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  51. DVD Shop: Band of Brothers. — Warner Bros.

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Further reading

A number of books have been published which give further insight into Easy Company.

  • A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us (2010), by Marcus Brotherton. Penguin. Profiles of deceased Easy Company men by their family members.
  • Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest (1992), by Stephen Ambrose.
  • Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters (2006), by Major Richard Winters and Colonel Cole Kingseed. The first of Winters' memoirs.
  • Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers (2005), by Larry Alexander. The second of Winters' memoirs.
  • Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends, by William Guarnere and Edward Heffron with Robyn Post.
  • Call of Duty, by Lynn Compton with Marcus Brotherton. Recounts Compton's career as an attorney and prosecutor of Sirhan Sirhan.
  • Easy Company, by Genesis Publications. A limited edition coffee table book.
  • Easy Company Soldier, by Donald Malarkey with Bob Welch.
  • From Toccoa to the Eagle's Nest: Discoveries in the Bootsteps of the Band of Brothers (2009), by Dalton Einhorn.
  • In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers: A Return to Easy Company's Battlefields with Sgt. Forrest Guth (2010), by Larry Alexander. Part travelogue, part historical perspective.
  • Parachute Infantry, by David Kenyon Webster. Published posthumously in 1994.
  • Shifty's War: The Authorized Biography of Sergeant Darrell Powers, the Legendary Sharpshooter from the Band of Brothers, (2011) by Marcus Brotherton.
  • The Way We Were (1985), by Forrest Guth and Michel de Trez. A collection of Guth's war time pictures and memoirs.
  • We Who Are Alive and Remain (2009), by Marcus Brotherton. Oral history featuring 20 surviving members of E Co.

External links

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Template:Tom Hanks Template:Band of Brothers (miniseries) Template:Steven Spielberg Template:HBONetwork Shows Template:EmmyAward Limited Series Template:Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film 2000–2019 Template:TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials

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