Senator Bob Dole of Russell, Kansas has penned a very personal
account of World War II. The far away Italian mountainside where
Dole wages war prepares the man in his twenties for a lifelong
commitment to his country. Not only does he serve in World War II,
with distinction, but he wears that valor as an emblem of character
throughout his adulthood.
As Chairman of the National World War II Memorial, Dole's memoir is
a timely tribute to the men and women whose sacrifices are
remembered and honored there. Sen. Dole escorted fourteen members
of Congress who were World War II veterans to the Memorial site
several days before its dedication and was deeply moved by their
reactions to it. Excerpts from his speech are included in the book.
His grueling and lengthy recovery from wounds suffered in Italy is
the force that directs him into a life of service.
Dole grows up in an impoverished but proud family in Russell,
Kansas. Hard work and responsibility drive his childhood, with the
knowledge that his efforts can always make for a better life.
Creature comforts are slim, but the family is close-knit. Dole
sprinkles many letters throughout the pages of ONE SOLDIER'S STORY
that he has written to his parents, sisters and brother, from his
college days in Lawrence, Kansas to his military station in Europe.
His concern for his family's well-being is a resonant theme
throughout his letters. Front and back inside cover pages display
Dole's heartfelt sentiment about D-Day.
Dole works hard to earn the funds for college. He's off to the
University of Kansas at Lawrence for a promising future. The
six-foot-two athletically talented young student plays football,
basketball, and track at K.U. During his sophomore year, in 1942,
Dole's athletic endeavors compete with his scholarly progress. He
has joined a fraternity and sends off growing numbers of his
brothers to war. At 19, Dole joins the Army Reserve Corps and
leaves the university. Dreams of playing basketball for the
legendary coach Phog Allen must be set aside for an unknown
Dole recounts in detail his early experiences in the military. This
period, though interesting, slows the reading a bit. He decides to
try for Officer Training and succeeds. From there, his leadership
skills are put to the test in Italy, where his unit must maintain
ground gained by the Allies in mountainous terrain. His home
becomes a foxhole.
The grizzly accounts of the day he is wounded are heartwrenching.
Dole has included statements from the soldier who dragged him to
safety after he is hit and near death. The defining moment in
Dole's life comes when he is carried from the mountain and begins
the long process of recovery. Never again will he excel in
collegiate sports. But his lifelong virtues of endurance,
fortitude, and faith in a power greater than himself will take this
man into the livelihood that defines him as Senator Robert Dole,
owner of a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
ONE SOLDIER'S STORY is a war story, a memoir written with emotion
and genuine respect for sacrifices made by Dole's generation. His
own grit and determination mold the man he becomes after his
harrowing experiences on the battlefield. Not only does Dole
recount his struggle to recovery with pathos, but his optimism
illuminates the story throughout. ONE SOLDIER'S STORY is not a
political statement; it is a volume of hope for mankind and the
future of freedom.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 13, 2011