Assignment to Hell

The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A .J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle


Subject categories
  • 9780451236883
  • 9781101585382
“A book every modern journalist—and citizen—should read.”—Tom Brokaw, Author of The Greatest Generation

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.”

Assignment to Hell tells the powerful and poignant story of the war against Hitler through the eyes of five intrepid reporters. 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.

This book serves as 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.”
  • Penguin Publishing Group; May 2012
  • ISBN: 9781101585382
  • Read online, or download in secure EPUB format
  • Title: Assignment to Hell
  • Author: Timothy M. Gay
  • Imprint: Dutton Caliber
Subject categories
  • 9780451236883
  • 9781101585382

In The Press

Assignment to Hell is a book every modern journalist—and citizen—should read. The ‘assignment’ is World War II, the largest event in the history of mankind, a war unlike any other before or since. The men who covered it on the front lines, in the air and at sea were beyond brave and resourceful—and great company for each other. Those legendary journalists, Cronkite and Rooney among them, were the eyes and ears of a nation depending on them for stories that instructed, inspired and entertained. I salute them all.”—Tom Brokaw, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Greatest Generation

“If one can say that reading a book titled Assignment to Hell was a delight, I say it now. The stories are so vivid and alive all these years later that I felt I was there with the legendary correspondents of World War II as they wrote their way from France to Germany.”—David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of They Marched Into Sunlight

“World War II was also fought by a free press. Assignment to Hell is a worthy story about great and adventurous reporters, my father among them, who flew in the bombers, jumped with parachutes, and ducked into foxholes to report news of the war home to America.”—Brian Rooney, former ABC New correspondent

“Tim Gay brilliantly tells the tale of five of the greatest reporters of World War II chasing the biggest story of their lives, filing the first draft of history with their newspapers while writing letters home to wives and girlfriends with the first version of lifelong family lore.”—Chip Cronkite, son of Walter Cronkite

“Timothy Gay is a gifted, perceptive writer who succeeds in deftly weaving together journalism and military history. Assignment to Hell is a poignant human story that will move you deeply.”John C. McManus, Author of The Dead and Those About to Die

“This charming, wide-angle recap shows how the men who wrote history’s first draft worked and played while in the line of fire.” World War II magazine

“A sprightly synthesis of literature and history… unique [and] engaging.”Kirkus Reviews

“Dull storytelling wasn’t a problem for war correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigart and Hal Boyle. Their courage in getting close enough to the action to tell America how the war against Germany was going shines through in Timothy M. Gay’s Assignment to Hell.”—San Diego Union-Tribune

Assignment to Hell is racy reading—full of back stories, private lives, booze and gossip about generals, reporters and news organizations. It is also an important book, telling how five men became writers of the first draft of the history of World War II. A free press never had better allies, and Americans who prize democracy should know them, warts and all. Their kind of work keeps dictatorships at bay.”—Betsy Wade, former New York Times editor

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About The Author

Timothy M. Gay is the author of Satch, Dizzy, & Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball before Jackie Robinson and Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. His essays and op-eds on American history, politics, public policy, and sports have appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, USA Today, and many other publications. A graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in American history, Tim lives in Virginia with his wife and children.