Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

Honor Untarnished

ISBN: 0-765-30657-3
Review Date:

Donald Bennett was but a young recent West Point graduate when the opening acts of WW2 began around the globe. Initially thought destined for Philippines, he entered the war at Casablanca and commanded M-7 artillery teams all the way into the heart of Germany. Honor Untarnished was published in 2003, detailing his experiences in the Second World War. This book was one of those rather random selections; seeing it sitting on the sale racks at a local bookstore right before going on a long road trip, I knew I needed a light reading to pass the time, so I just could not resist picking it up.

Immediately I realized that Donald Bennett, a career soldier of the United States whose career pinnacled as a four-star general, was an idealistic product of the American military. However, unlike memoirs that were politically-charged (such as Dwight Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe that I reviewed two months ago), Honor Untarnished had no such intentions. While reflecting his idealistic views that the Americans were in Europe to save the conquered from German imperialism and anti-Semitism, he also readily pointed out the conducts of the American soldiers that did not always become publicized: soliciting prostitutes in North Africa, taking clothing and souvenirs from the dead (both friend and foe alike), just to name a few. Despite his idealistic views, his politically-neutral accounts of the war brought new insights of what the war was like on the frontlines, perhaps a bit like Stephen Ambrose's works.

Going through the book, I also noticed the retired professional soldier could be a cowboy-philosopher of sorts. The passage below illustrates this notion:

"Yes, there is a romance to war, and that might seem shocking at first glance, but I must hasten to add that the romance is in the memory of war. It is afterward, in that wondrous moment when you first catch sight of each other again in a smoke-filled station, or a dock at dawn, and you are both alive, still young, and safe, that romance arises, when the fighting is over and you are alive. Then in the long gentle years afterward you talk about it, you remember, you share the good times with your children who sit before you wide-eyed or bemused or bored, for they will never fully understand. Then it might seem romantic, and in fact is. As it is when you see your comrades of old at a reunion, for it is they who, across the years, are the only ones who truly understand."

Bennett made an intentional point, in many occasions throughout his book, that wars should not be glorified. He used terrifying visuals to describe the horrors of war. He also noted that little things that he saw and fractions of time that he experienced on the frontlines still haunt him in his nightmares. For example, while most Americans enjoyed the relaxing warm fall evenings with the slight aroma of burning leaves in the air, these evenings haunted him for they reminded him too much of the smell of the burning towns of a devastated Europe, the smell of burning bodies, the smell of his dead comrades.

Lastly, I must point out that a memorable passage found in the second half of the book would probably stay with me for a long time. It provided me yet another reason to see him as a cowboy-philosopher. "I do wonder at times where does all the sound of war eventually go", he wrote after noting the details of another artillery barrage against the opposing Germans. "Are there molecules still subtly vibrating from the salvos I fired nearly sixty years ago?"

Honor Untarnished is a book worth reading for its detailed accounts of the war in North Africa and Europe as a frontlines officer, especially for how these accounted events affected him as a veteran of WW2. It may shed new insight to the reader about famous battles such as Normandy just as well as forgotten ones like Kasserine Pass.

Back to Main | Back to Book Reviews Index

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code



1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Honor Untarnished
Related Person:
» Bennett, Donald

Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!