J. KEMPER CAMPBELL
“The Time Between Us”, by Alicia DeFonzo, Potomac Books, 209 pages, $29.95.
Sometimes a novice chef can ruin a recipe by combining tasty ingredients in the wrong proportions.
An inexperienced writer can make the same mistake by turning a multitude of compelling topics into a confusing narrative. Fortunately, first author Alicia DeFonzo can successfully juggle several stories reminiscent of “Band of Brothers,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Cold Case” with her own memoir involving four generations of an Italian-American family living in southern California. Philadelphia.
The result is “The Time That Remains Between Us”, a book written with honesty, humor and pathos, but bound by an overarching message about achieving closure.
DeFonzo, who teaches in the English department at Old Dominion University and contributes to National Public Radio, is a talented writer who can candidly describe her personal and family shortcomings, as well as her unique and loving relationship with her grandfather, Anthony (Del) DelRossi, who becomes the cynical but warm subject of the book.
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DelRossi was inducted into the U.S. Army Combat Engineers in April 1943. He saw action on D-Day and in battles across France, Belgium and Germany until Japan surrendered in 1945 while awaiting reassignment to the Pacific. Like most World War II veterans, he never spoke of his wartime experiences.
The author was forced to ask his octogenarian grandfather to preserve his long suppressed military career, which included five bronze service stars, following an emotional visit to Utah Beach Cemetery. The result is an unvarnished history lesson in America’s role in ending World War II from the perspective of an enlisted soldier.
DeFonzo, whose husband was born in Lincoln and lived in Hastings and Omaha, became so captivated by his stories that she decided to visit many of the sites her grandfather had described and solve the riddle of a mysterious Nazi Waffen SS newspaper he had confiscated. of the body of a dead German soldier.
The author has a knack for making his intimate family portraits as accurate as a Frank Sinatra song. Generations unfamiliar with World War II after reading his book might be inspired to seek out a more detailed history of the liberation of Europe, such as Rick Atkinson’s trilogy of books on the subject.
In summary, this book is recommended for any reader whose family members lived through the years of World War II. Those lucky enough to still have living survivors of the conflict should be motivated to ask them to preserve their own memories of this critical period in American history before they are lost forever.
J. Kemper Campbell, MD, is a retired Lincoln ophthalmologist who is grateful that a gentle, soft-spoken colleague, Dr. Roy (Steve) Statton, allowed him to share his mind-blowing and truly heroic experiences as a than World War II bomber. pilot when he reached his 90s.