No Greater Valor tells the story of the heroic stand of the 101st Airborn Divisions, at the siege of Bastogne in World War II. Jerome Corsi compiles many first-hand accounts and military records to draw together a cohesive, gripping account of the final days of World War II. Despite a few flaws, the book is engaging and well-researched.
Corsi’s major theme is the divine providence of God throughout the battle of Bastogne and the preservation of American troops. But it’s quite clear that he is a military historian first, and a writer second. Aside from perhaps a dozen references to providence throughout the book, there’s little in the way of a cohesive theme of God’s provision over the American soldiers who held the village. Corsi’s assertion that it was the faith of the 101st that brought them through the battle against the Germans is almost unsupported throughout the entire book. A few scattered stories of chaplains and their bravery, along with Patton’s famous prayer for good weather, are the only clear pictures that prove Corsi’s thesis.
Despite this, the book is a great read, and as I said, Corsi is an excellent military historian. At times, he’s almost too good, as his descriptions and maps can get muddled quickly if you’re not a military expert. Another annoying issue was his insistence on jumping chronologically depending on which character he was focusing on. Moving from December 24th in Bastogne to December 22nd with Patton back to the 24th in Bastogne is disconcerting. Corsi no doubt wanted to show Patton’s march northwards concurrently with Bastogne’s defense, and by putting them side by side, make the events seem to go by faster, but the final result was to make the book plod in many places.
All that aside, No Greater Valor is a fine book, and the storytelling outweighs the few drawbacks in format. Thesis or no, story-telling or no, the defense of the village of Bastogne is an incredible story, and it’s followed by General Patton’s no less amazing 48-hour, 90-degree pivot of the Third Army in order to relieve Bastogne. As World War II wound down, the Battle of the Bulge was some of the bloodiest and most heroic fighting from the entire war. No Greater Valor captures that weight well, and gives due credit to everyone from airplane pilots to artillerymen to heroic nurses.
In short, No Greater Valor is an exciting story of World War II that captures a specific point and time in history in great detail. It’s informative, and more than that, it’s exciting. It reminds me of the Greatest Generation, and the feats that the United States and the Allies accomplished in the 40s and 50s.
Published on 11 February, 2015. Last updated on