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This Christmas I rewatched the 2001 HBO series Band of Brothers, a magnificent achievement that chronicles the experiences of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army, fighting in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. Its a ten part series that centres around some of the major events of the Second World War in Europe; the D-Day landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of Bastogne.

The triumph of the series is the emotion is conveys with sincerity but without glamour; the balance of heroism and hardship, and the walking of a tightrope between potraying accurately the events as remembered by the men of Easy Company, and in the later episodes covering some of the crucial events of the war- the discovery of concentration camps, and the capturing of the Eagle’s Nest.

Several episodes are told specifically from certain soldiers’ points of view, meaning that an overarching characterisation is missing, but this does mean that you get many soldiers’ perspectives. Favourite episodes include the last one- a emotional and powerful ending to the series, and Bastogne, centred around medic Eugene Roe. Also both episodes directed by David Frankel are excellent- The Breaking Point and Why We Fight.

I haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan yet, the film upon which this extended series was based, but having seen this, I’m eager too- it’s gripping, thoughtful, and important stuff told in a compelling way.

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