I've just read "Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War" and am still thinking about it. Mr. Stodghill has written an unique account of the war in Europe - unique in several aspects, but primarily in its humility.
One will look in vain for passages praising the justice of the war, America's cause for being there, the superiority of American (or his own) character or other vainglorious bragging. Stodghill instead presents us with war from the viewpoint of the soldier doing his duty as best he can, under unimaginable circumstances.
One almost feels his weariness whilst trudging endlessly from one battle field to the next, the despair felt as friends were killed and respite was denied again and again, the confusion and frustration caused by his immediate superiors and the commanders in the rear.
He is honest too. Acts committed by his own comrades which one would easily recognize as war crimes are told as he must have felt them at the time: acts he condemned, and yet set in the context of battle and the struggle to survive, somehow unsurprising - a tragedy in itself.
To me perhaps most impressive was his admiration - or at least his understanding - of the enemy. For him the German soldier was no worse than many of his own comrades - he too was a man who would rather be anywhere else, yet was there fighting and dying, as he thought, for his country. His open admiration of the German soldiers' superior training and performance betrays again his essential humility.
My only major criticism: I would have liked at least one map.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in war and the experience of men in war - at the ground level.