"THREE WINDS OF DEATH"
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Book Review



1st Edition


2nd Edition

 

Three Winds of Death
By Bennett M. Guthrie
 

New Forum Press, Stillwater, Oklahoma, 1985.
352 pp., :
ISBN
 0-682-40169-2

"Three Winds" is a saga which relates the origins of the 503d Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team, unattached, and follows it through the SWPA for the duration. Of particular worth are the chapters about the less-known campaigns of the unit, much of which cannot be found anywhere else.

For a long while, I'd assumed that there wasn't much need to review a reference book which was out of print, and unavailable unless you were were a regular visitor to eBay in the faint hope that one might turn up as part of a deceased estate. That's how I got my 'inherited' Templeman.

Eventually I found that Amazon.com had a fine service which gets book listings from all sorts of rare book shops across the USA, thus relieving us of the stigma of being auction buzzards. This Amazon service was particularly good to me when, almost two years after it had been destroyed by flood,  I finally commenced to rebuild my reference library.

One of the books I needed to replace was "Three Winds." My original copy had been presented to me by Ben Guthrie after the Biloxi Reunion in 2001 but it had died of wounds inflicted by two days in floodwater, and two weeks under mud.   It had been a particularly valuable  remembrance of Ben, who had died in September 2006, aged 83.  It reflected numerous details of the saga of the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team in the South Pacific which had not appeared in either the Devlin or Flanagan books, and which have been a great reference throughout my constructing the 503d website.  It contained what was, until then, the most comprehensive listings of facts and circumstances of the 503d until the world went website crazy. It also included Don Abbott's list of WWII Casualties and provided perspectives by someone who had lived through it all - perspectives and observations which went beyond the "after the fact" writers. 

Imagine my shock, when I found that being out of print wasn't the half of the difficulty in getting the book. Are you sitting comfortably? "Three Winds"- had become a rare book, with used copies  starting at $158.00.  It also listed two collectible copies being available at $375.00 each!

I was lamenting this to one of my 'trooper acquaintances when he told me that he was still in contact with Bennet Guthrie Jr., the author's son, and was aware that there might still be copies of  his father's book available.

Halleluiah! 

Thus the news is bad,  that is, if you just laid out a hundred and fifty plus of your hard-earned simoleons for the privilege of getting yourself a collectible copy of "Three Winds."  If, on the other hand you are still looking for a copy,  the news is all good!

Now that the book has been reprinted (2nd edition) and is currently available from Bennett Guthrie Jr., you can get a copy at a price that will make a collector's eyes water - with tears!

Now about the book.

The 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) initially contained nearly two thousand men. It was the very first paratrooper regiment to be organized in the United States Army. Within it was the 501st Parachute Battalion, itself the very first paratrooper unit organized in the United States Army. More than three thousand others eventually joined the regiment's ranks as replacements for casualties or became members of the brotherhood via the 462nd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion or the 161st Parachute Engineers. It would be impossible to relate all the patrol actions or exploits of the platoons, companies and battalions, and Guthrie, knowing this, deftlt summarizes the field.

Some might think his style is spare or matter of fact. I prefer to think of it more like the result of a master chef who, faced with a cornucopia of ingredients,  decides to make a rich soup stock concentrate sufficient to last through an Oklahoma winter. Guthrie has gathered together an unchallengeable encyclopedic knowledge of the military details, to which he's mixed in  as fine a dash of human derring-do, challenge, exploration, pioneering, patriotism and gallant camaraderie  as one could expect.

Then,  not wanting any single ingredient to overcome the other, he's  simmered them over a low heat until he has produced a very readable concentrate.

As a reference book, it's invaluable, and never far from reach, floods excepting.

Getting a Copy

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