Band of Brothers, first published in 1958, is a gritty novel of a desperate battle fought by U.S. Marines in the Korean War. As the dust jacket states: Band of Brothers is the first novel to depict that nightmarish and heroic period of the Korean War during which United Nations troops were forced to retreat from the Yalu. It tells the story in terms of one Company of U.S. Marines and its C.O., Captain Bill Patrick, who in the two weeks covered by the novel, is transformed from an inexperienced and distrusted leader into a battle-hardened, respected veteran.
The ordeal begins when Able Company is handed a seemingly impossible assignment: to take and hold Bad Girl Ridge. Cut off from the main body of friendly troops and vastly outnumbered by the enemy, Able Company hangs on for four days and nights of carnage, suffering and stubborn resistance. Drawing upon some inexplicable reserve of courage and fortitude, the marines beat back attack after enemy attack, refusing to contemplate surrender, utterly determined to fight to the last. Mission accomplished, there follows the excruciating march to Hungnam and safety, a killing trek over savage terrain in temperatures of twenty below zero. Exhausted, surrounded by the enemy, having fought a rear-guard action all the way, the marines arrive at their destination intact, with their equipment, their wounded and their dead.
Author Ernest Frankel served as a Marine in the Pacific Theater during World War II and was recalled for service during the Korean War; he served in Vietnam and retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.