Books

‘Cousin Bob’ tells Jewish soldier’s WWII story

Robert Warren receiving a bottle of wine from a young girl in France.  The photo was published in the Front Line News.  The French people shared hidden caches of vintage wine when they were liberated.

With an estimated 70,000 or more books written about World War II, it is difficult to provide a fresh perspective, but Nick Wynne and Joe Knetsch, a Tallahassee writer and historian, manage to pull it off in “Cousin Bob: The World War II Experiences of Robert Morris Warren.”

In reading the early chapters of this book, it soon became apparent that the story involves more than a chronicle of key European battles from a soldier’s perspective.

Wynne, who lives in Rockledge, Florida, and Knetsch seeks to understand why a middle-class Jewish man (Warren), a practicing Detroit attorney, would choose to enlist as a common private in the Army infantry when he could have easily received an officer’s commission.

The book provides valuable context in Depression-ridden Detroit and covers the political and movements of the time.

The idea for the book came about during the peak COVID pandemic. In early 2021, Wynne’s wife Debra was going through papers from her late father and found a cache of 33 letters from a close family friend, Robert Morris Warren, known affectionately as “Cousin Bob.”

Warren had been a decorated World War II soldier, political activist and prominent Detroit lawyer.

“On the surface, there was little to distinguish this small collection of letters from hundreds of others I have seen during a 50-year career as a professional historian,” wrote Wynne, “but as I read them, I remembered conversations I had with my father-in-law about growing up in Detroit, and about the people he had known.”

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