Monday, May 19, 2008

Frank Irgang's Etched in Purple Released

My prized original copy of Etched in Purple, signed by Frank and with one of the original dust jackets he sent me many years ago.
The Potomac edition of Etched in Purple. Before its release, a copy of Etched in Purple ran over $200. There were only 3,000 copies in existence.
Men of the 29th Infantry wade ashore on D-Day. Frank remembers stepping into chest-deep water, surrounded by shells and bullets and the bodies of his comrades.
This drawing from the front cover of the original 1949 edition of Etched in Purple shows a war-weary Frank Irgang pondering the things he's seen since landing on D-Day.

It is with great pleasure that I inform readers that Frank Irgang's classic Etched in Purple has been re-released by Potomac Books. First published in 1949, the book tells of Frank's experiences as a young infantry medic and later rifleman with the 29th Infantry Division as he landed on D-Day on Omaha Beach and fought his way across France and into Germany. This is the most powerful infantry memoir to come out of WWII.

I talked with Frank this evening, and gathered information for a magazine article for a July 4th issue of a magazine honoring veterans here in Idaho. Frank lived for a time in Idaho Falls, and his wife Virginia is from Idaho Falls. The Irgangs now live in San Diego, where Frank is a retired professor at San Diego State.

I am currently reading Etched in Purple for the fifth or sixth time. It is moving. I'm an unemotional person, at least on the surface, but Frank's book moves me to tears in almost every chapter. The story is so horrific, it is amazing that any man could have lived it and gone on to lead such a productive and honorable life. Almost literally Frank's whole unit was killed off several times over from D-Day to the end of the war. Only 22 men from his unit made it to shore on D-Day. The intense bond forged by these young men as they fought for their very lives in the terrifying hedgerows of Normandy so many years ago is one that the rest of us will never be able to understand.

Frank told me this evening that he returned from the war troubled by what he'd seen, and that he suffered from nightmares. Fortunately, his boss at the Idaho Falls furniture store was a World War One veteran who had also suffered from nightmares until he'd written his experiences down. Frank took pen to paper and began writing. The rest is history. The result is the most compelling piece of writing to come out of the US infantryman's experience in Europe in World War Two.

I am more proud of having a small role in getting this powerful memoir republished that I am of any book I could ever write myself. Frank, you are my hero, and I can never express enough my gratefullness for your service and the service of your colleagues, living and dead, to our country and to free Europe from oppression.
To order, and for more literary reviews, go to Potomac's website at :

No comments: