The Untold Story of Ernie Pyle, John Huston, and the Fight for Purple Heart Valley
by Tim Brady

Da Capo/November 2013

A Death in San Pietro chronicles one regiment in a battle that would define the controversial Italian campaign but which would also yield two of the most lasting artistic expressions of the war. With the 143rd Infantry’s approach to San Pietro underway, journalist Ernie Pyle and filmmaker John Huston were on hand to document this vital moment to an anxious American public. What resulted from their work would become sensations; Pyle’s piece for Scripps-Howard, The Death of Captain Waskow, would be the most widely-read piece of prose written during the war and would help earn him the Pulitzer Prize. And Huston’s documentary, The Battle of San Pietro, part of a series called Why We Fight, was ultimately acclaimed as the best film produced during the war, memorably being the first to show dead American soldiers.

As Captain Waskow says in a fateful letter to his family just before the battle of San Pietro: “If you read this, I will have died in defense of my country and all that it stands for—the most honorable and distinguished death a man can die. It was not because I was willing to die for my country, however—I wanted to live for it—just as any other person wants to do. It is foolish and foolhardy to want to die for one’s country, but to live for it is something else. ...Try to live a life of service—to help someone wherever you are or whatever you may be—take it from me, you can get happiness out of that, more than anything in life.”

“A deeply moving story with compelling characters who paid the highest price to fight and record the struggle for victory in World War II.”

–Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of THE LIBERATOR

About the Author
Tim Brady is an award-winning author, whose previous book, Twelve Desperate Miles, received wide acclaim. He is a regular contributor to PBS history documentaries and currently writes for History Channel Magazine, Minnesota, and Minnesota Monthly. Based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, he is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.