Savage Will brings to life a remarkable story of perseverance, heroism, and survival: the true tale of the American medics and nurses who endured two months in Nazi-occupied Albania—and the fearless citizens and Allied intelligence officers who risked all to save them.

On a cold morning in war-ravaged Sicily in 1943, men and women of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron boarded a routine flight to the Italian mainland to care for wounded soldiers. En route, their plane became lost in storm clouds looming over the Adriatic Sea, drifted hundreds of miles off course, and crash-landed in remote mountainous Albania.

Stranded without proper winter clothing or weapons, the Americans were trapped hundreds of blizzard-plagued miles from Allied lines in a country torn apart by rival bands of pro- and anti-German guerrillas.

What followed is the most thrilling untold story of World War II—a saga that would ensnare a cast of hundreds, from President Roosevelt and top Allied intelligence officials to a host of brave Albanian Resistance fighters, the British and U.S. Mediterranean air forces, and the gritty officers sent behind enemy lines to rescue them: a dashing English lieutenant and a tenacious American captain.

Hunted by German soldiers, the American castaways were forced to rely on what one survivor called their “savage will” to elude their enemy and ultimately find their way to freedom.

Savage Will is a testament to a generation who defied all odds.



TIMOTHY M. GAY
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In February 1943, a group of journalists—including a young wire service correspondent named Walter Cronkite and cub reporter Andy Rooney—clamored to fly along on a bombing raid over Nazi Germany. Seven of the sixty-four bombers that attacked a U-boat base that day never made it back to England. A fellow survivor, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, asked Cronkite if he’d thought through a lede. “I think I’m going to say,” mused Cronkite, “that I’ve just returned from an assignment to hell.”

During his esteemed career Walter Cronkite issued millions of words for public consumption, but he never wrote or uttered a truer phrase.

Assignment to Hell tells the powerful and poignant story of the war against Hitler through the eyes of five intrepid reporters. Crisscrossing battlefields, they formed a journalistic band of brothers, repeatedly placing themselves in harm’s way to bring the war home for anxious American readers.

Cronkite crashed into Holland on a glider with U.S. paratroopers. Rooney dodged mortar shells as he raced across the Rhine at Remagen. Behind enemy lines in Sicily, Bigart jumped into an amphibious commando raid that nearly ended in disaster. The New Yorker’s A. J. Liebling ducked sniper fire as Allied troops liberated his beloved Paris. The Associated Press’s Hal Boyle barely escaped SS storm troopers as he uncovered the massacre of U.S. soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.

Assignment to Hell is a stirring tribute to five of World War II’s greatest correspondents and to the brave men and women who fought on the front lines against fascism—their generation’s “assignment to hell.”

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Before Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball in 1947, black and white ballplayers had been playing against one another for decades—even, on rare occasions, playing with each other. Interracial contests took place during the off-season, when major leaguers and Negro Leaguers alike fattened their wallets by playing exhibitions in cities and towns across America. These barnstorming tours reached new heights, however, when Satchel Paige and other African- American stars took on white teams headlined by the irrepressible Dizzy Dean. Lippy and funny, a born showman, the native Arkansan saw no reason why he shouldn't pitch against Negro Leaguers. Paige, who feared no one and chased a buck harder than any player alive, instantly recognized the box-office appeal of competing against Dizzy Dean's "All-Stars." Paige and Dean both featured soaring leg kicks and loved to mimic each other's style to amuse fans. Skin color aside, the dirt-poor Southern pitchers had much in common.
Historian Timothy M. Gay has unearthed long-forgotten exhibitions where Paige and Dean dueled, and he tells the story of their pioneering escapades in this engaging book. Long before they ever heard of Robinson or Larry Doby, baseball fans from Brooklyn to Enid, Oklahoma, watched black and white players battle on the same diamond. With such Hall of Fame teammates as Josh Gibson, Turkey Stearnes, Mule Suttles, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, and Bullet Joe Rogan, Paige often had the upper hand against Diz. After arm troubles sidelined Dean, a new pitching phenom, Bob Feller—Rapid Robert—assembled his own teams to face Paige and other blackballers. By the time Paige became Feller's teammate on the Cleveland Indians in 1948, a rookie at age forty-two, Satch and Feller had barnstormed against each other for more than a decade.
These often obscure contests helped hasten the end of Jim Crow baseball, paving the way for the game's integration. Satchel Paige, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Feller never set out to make social history—but that's precisely what happened. Tim Gay has brought this era to vivid and colorful life in a book that every baseball fan will embrace.

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A three-time World Series winner and an early inductee into the Hall of Fame, lauded by Babe Ruth as the finest defensive outfielder he ever saw and described as "perfection on the field" by the great Grantland Rice, Tris Speaker enjoys the peculiar distinction of being one of the least-known legends of baseball history. Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend is the first book to tell the full story of Speaker’s turbulent life and to document in sharp detail the grit and glory of his pivotal role in baseball’s dead-ball era.

Playing for the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians in the early part of the twentieth century, Tris “Spoke” Speaker put up numbers that amaze us even today: his record for career doubles—792—may never be approached, let alone broken. Tris Speaker explores the colorful life behind the statistics, introducing readers to a complex and contradictory Texan whose cowboy mentality never left him as he brawled his way through two decades in the big leagues.

Speaker’s career put him in the company of Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Honus Wagner, and in describing it Timothy M. Gay gives a rousing account of some of the best baseball ever played—and some of the darkest moments that ever tainted a game and hastened the end of a career. His four years of research on Speaker unearthed a document that suggests that cheating induced by gambling was far more widespread in early baseball than officials have acknowledged. Gay’s book captures the bygone spirit of the big leagues’ rough-and-tumble early years and restores one of baseball’s true greats—and a truly larger-than-life personality—to his rightful place in the American sports pantheon.

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