“Operation Market Garden” may be one of World War II’s most ambitious battles, but it is also one of the least understood, particularly from an American perspective, says U.S. military historian Dr. John C. McManus. In his latest book, McManus tells America’s side of the story.
September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far is scheduled for publication June 5 by NAL Caliber. It examines America’s contribution to this crucial phase of the war in Europe. To research the book, McManus used the first-hand accounts of soldiers on the battlefield and personal interviews with survivors, among many other official and documentary sources.
“The lion’s share of the work that has been done about Operation Market Garden has focused on the British perspective,” McManus says, “particularly at Arnhem (in the Netherlands), where the whole thing turned into a disaster. I wanted to look more deeply and see the American side of it.
“September Hope is a very human story,” McManus says. “It is kind of a World War II epic, ranging from the experiences of generals to privates. I wrote it in hopes of picking up where Cornelius Ryan left off in his classic book A Bridge Too Far.”
By the end of August 1944, Allied troops were optimistic that Germany was on the verge of collapse and that the end of the war was nearing. Rumors had circulated that everyone would be home by Christmas.
To capitalize on Germany’s expected demise and win the war by the end of 1944, the largest airborne drop in military history began on Sept. 17, 1944. It involved two entire American divisions – the 101st and the 82nd. Their mission was to secure key bridges and hold the road open and ultimately propel the armored forces across the Rhine River, into northern Germany, on the way to Berlin. However, the Germans were stronger than the allied forces had anticipated.
“The mission became a rescue operation, and an unsuccessful one at that,” McManus says. “Only about a fourth of the British paratroopers escaped the Arnhem perimeter. The rest were captured or killed.”
September Hope is scheduled to be a Main Feature Selection of the Military Book Club and Military History Magazine recently acquired serial rights to publish a large excerpt of the book in its June/July issue.
McManus joined the Missouri S&T faculty in 2000. Considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the history of Americans in combat, McManus has written 10 books on military history. A member of the editorial advisory board at World War II magazine and World War II Quarterly, McManus received the 2012 Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and was named the 2012 Research Fellow by the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park. In 2007, he was named to History News Network’s list of Top Young Historians in 2007 and in 2008 he received the Missouri Conference on History Book Award for Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible.
McManus will spend his summer researching two future books – Hell Before Their Eyes, a book for the Johns Hopkins University Press Eyewitness to History Series about a group of American soldiers who liberated three concentration camps; and The Dead and Those who are Going To Die, about the 1st Infantry Division on D-Day at Omaha Beach.