"Brian DeToy was our tour guide for a 5 day tour of Normandy this spring. He was absolutely fantastic. His experience as a retired career infantry commander gives him a unique perspective that is unmatched by any other guide. On top of this, he spent years as a West Point history professor and has multiple advanced history degrees. The breadth and detail of his explanations make history come to life!
Let Essential History Expeditions guide your next tour. You will not regret it."
"Just returned from South Africa, where Brian and Sheryl led a phenomenal trip following in the steps of Nelson Mandela. This was my second excursion with EHE; my husband and I did the WWI battlefields tour last summer. Both trips were beyond fabulous!!
Stated very simply, there is no better way to learn about history and actually experience it than on a trip with EHE. Brian's in-depth knowledge of historical events, why they mattered, and how they shaped and influenced current times is really astounding. He is an engaging and charismatic storyteller, funny and passionate, conveying both details and the bigger picture of the sweep of history. Sheryl ensures that every logistical detail of the trips is flawlessly attended to; she is warm and open and treats every traveler like a family friend. Show up and Sheryl takes care of the rest!! In South Africa, we also experienced other cultural highlights, including the Cape of Good Hope and the magnificent wine country in Stellenbosch, as well as an optional two-day safari in Sabi Sands.
EHE is a real treasure; take a trip and you will kick yourself for waiting so long to do it. I am already signed up for additional trips with Brian and Sheryl in 2020 and 2021, and wish I could do more. Really wonderful!!"
Retired Army JAG
"My second trip with Brian & Sheryl and the same fantastic experience. The coordination, communication and planning of the 75th Anniversary D-Day trip was perfect. And again, with multiple heads of state attending numerous events, there were unanticipated changes and last minute notifications for security reasons. Brian and Sheryl adjusted and provided a superb and seamless experience. I don't know how they did it, but we were able to board a ferry in the UK on the evening of June 5th, cross the channel and land in France on the morning of June 6th! With thousands of people attending the events, we were able to visit every beach, the sites of the two major airborne drops, Bayeux and Mount Saint Michel. A huge shout out to Sergei our driver who managed to maneuver a full sized bus everywhere we went. The experience was poignant and moving but also uplifting to view and hear first hand what this generation was able to accomplish for us and the world. Thank you Brian & Sheryl for including me in another lifetime event."
"My husband and I just returned from an EHE excursion to South Africa, and I can't say enough about our experience. We thoroughly enjoyed the safari, where we were able to get close to animals we have only ever seen in captivity -- leopards, elephants, kudu, hippos, giraffes, and many, many impalas, just to name a few. Watching these animals in their natural habitat was extraordinary. The main part of the tour focused on Nelson Mandela and his incredible "Long Walk to Freedom." We were able to visit sites that were important in the apartheid struggle, including Mandela's house in Soweto, Liliesleaf farm, the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, and several of the prisons where Mandela spent his 27 years in captivity. Along the way, we developed relationships with the local guides and people, who enriched the experience with their first-hand knowledge of the culture and history of South Africa. Brian has an astounding wealth of knowledge about the history of the country and was able to make insightful and meaningful connections from the past to the present. I feel like we should have received college credit for everything we learned on this trip! Sheryl ensured that every possible logistical detail was attended to, which allowed us to fully relax and enjoy the whole trip. Along the way, we indulged in the local food and wines, which were outstanding in every way. This was an incredible learning experience and a wonderful, memorable vacation all in one. It will stay with us forever. Thank you, Brian and Sheryl, for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!"
Executive Director, K-12 School
"South Africa...Safari and history tour! Over a two week period we couldn't decide on what was the best part....it was all so awesome. The guides, facilitation and education by Brian on past and present day S. Africa was amazing and to be able to draw parallels for what was happening in the U.S. at the time brought a whole new twist to understanding an evolving world. It just doesn't get better than this...exciting, fun, educational, stunning venue's, outstanding accommodations and a foodies delight! We will be repeat travelers for sure!"
Corporate CEO, Manhattan
"You simply will not find a better "team" than Sheryl and Brian. Sheryl's attention to detail is unsurpassed - her goal is your comfort at all times. Brian's expertise and his ability to share his depth of knowledge and commitment to our country in a way anyone can understand is truly a gift not to be missed.
My husband and I spent 11 days with Essential History Expeditions exploring the history and sites of D-Day. Brian's experiences as a U. S. Army Ranger (Col. ret.) and professor at West Point, along with his intimate knowledge of war, are shared with a passion that is palpable. Our new understanding of the D-Day operations is beyond anything we imagined.Sheryl's compassion for her fellow travelers overflows -she anticipates your every need and is ready to provide whatever it is you need.
I simply cannot imagine choosing any other leaders now that I know what an educational trip can provide. If you are considering a trip - don't miss this organization. If you do, you will miss something to treasure for the rest of your life!"
"Just returned from Essential History Expeditions tour of D-Day sites with Brian and Sheryl. It was amazing. They not only shared their expertise and incredible stories of WWII heroism, they also shared themselves, creating a warm and welcoming environment. We learned about D-Day during the day at various sites, hearing incredibly moving stories about the soldiers and learning about the strategies that helped move the invasion, and then gathered around meals at night to process and discuss what we had learned. Brian and Sheryl were always available to answer questions and discuss difficult issues surrounding the war. It was a wonderful experience all around!"
Professor, Southern Methodist University
"I would not, ever, take a history-focused trip with anyone else! Brian is a walking encyclopedia, and Sheryl the most competent and caring person I know. Having worked with them for several years now on several trips, I can say without reservation that they are THE BEST and we will be happily planning and taking more trips with them in years to come!"
Director, Center for Presidential History, Southern Methodist University
"I have never been on a trip like this. It was beyond my expectations. My sister, niece and I just completed the 75th Anniversary of D-Day expedition with Brian and Sheryl. Our father (and grandfather) was in WWII. Brian looked up the information and made us feel like our loved one was standing next to us. Brian’s knowledge and humor made the experience unforgettable. Sheryl ‘s organizational skills made every step look effortless. The sleeping accommodations were top class and the food was exceptional. I highly recommend any expedition with Brian and Sheryl."
Sun City, AZ
"We were educated, inspired, and deeply moved by the D-Day program and tour! The tour was life-changing. Thanks to you and your team for doing an outstanding job in conveying the extraordinary bravery, courage, and sacrifice by U.S. and Allied military personnel during WWII. We are forever indebted to them for the freedom to live our lives as we do today.
The group on the tour was a terrific mix of students, alumni, and friends of the University. You and Sheryl are now members of the SMU family.
Cheyenne and I have already told others about the extraordinary quality of your work and that you have an effective business that delivers the tours."
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Southern Methodist University
"It is a shame that rating Essential History Expeditions is limited to only five stars. EHE earns a constellation of positive recognition.
Brian is learned in history of great depth as well as the ability to impart such knowledge in a clear and enthusiastic manner. His knowledge is not limited to the topic at hand, in this case EHE's D-Day tour, but of eclectic history over the ages. We passed a street in France and when someone mentioned the name of the street Brian entertained us with an impromptu mini lecture on the person after whom the street was named, who they were and what they did that earned a street. We visited Mont Saint-Michel whose groundbreaking occurred in the 10th century and the ribbon cutting ceremony centuries later and yet once again Brian provided great insight into the history and events surrounding this island commune.
Sheryl, Brian's most capable and gracious business and life partner, made a complex trip look easy. A most worthy and appreciated skill. Be it lodging, box lunches, transportation (impromptu or otherwise), it all just magically happened(!). I have never been so well cared for on a hosted trip.
I learned so much from this trip of a lifetime while being well cared for and socializing with well matched people of similar interests all of whom immensely enjoyed the camaraderie.
We all were guided through the shadow of history of very brave people, soldiers as well as civilian; Allied as well as Axis and we were honored to do so. I encourage you to experience Essential History Expeditions. It could be your trip of a lifetime as well."
"I just returned from a 2-week tour of Vietnam with Brian and Sheryl of Essential History Expeditions. When I initially read the itinerary on this trip, it immediately piqued my interest and I signed up. But there was no way that I could ever imagine what an educational, cultural and pleasing experience of the senses this would be. We did not just go to typical tourist sites in Vietnam, instead we traversed the country starting in the south in Ho Chi Minh City and making our way up through the Central Highlands, stopping along the coast, winding up mountainous regions eventually ending up in Hanoi and then almost to the Chinese boarder in the Tonkinese Mountains of Sapa. We visited sites in the cities, in villages and along rivers- the Mekong, the Perfume and the Red Rivers. We learned so much about the history of this country through Brian's expertise and his military knowledge - he immersed us in the history at the very sites where it took place - at battle grounds, prisons, forts and fortresses, Presidential palaces, Vietcong hand dug tunnels and trenches...
Between Sheryl and Nhu, a Vietnamese tour guide who traveled with us, every detail of the trip was planned and executed - from the travel from place to place to the hotels and restaurants and sites to see. Whether traveling by van, SUV, boat, or cyclo - our vehicle awaited us at the very hour it was scheduled. The accommodations at each hotel we stayed at were superb and each restaurant a unique atmospheric and new and tasty experience for the palate. I can't say or write enough about this tour company and about Sheryl and Brian - not only their attention to detail and their knowledge, but also their warmth, enthusiasm and their genuine concern for each participant who travels with them."
"We just got back from the D-Day/Normandy trip with our family. Since our five kids are now between ages 27 & 17, it was likely our last vacation with the whole family. Two friends of our children joined us. Perfect falls short of describing it. There were excellent accommodations, comfortable transportation to the sites, tasty meals, completely thorough presentations of the history with a personal touch and fine company to share. It all went off like clock-work - even bathroom breaks. Sheryl & Brian have this wired and are experts at their craft. Worth every dime and beyond our wildest expectations - we were thrilled to have this experience for our family. It was a stress-free trip and the standard by which all other vacations will be judged."
"My son and I just returned from the World War I trip. It was better than I ever imagined. Everything was absolutely beyond what I had envisioned. Brian made the history come alive, and Sheryl attended to every little detail. I could have spent another week or two with them. 5 stars is not enough. Can't wait to go with them again."
High School History Teacher
"We traveled on the D Day trip. It exceeded my wildest expectations! Brian and Sheryl were the consummate professionals and I now have a bunch of new friends!"
"My boyfriend and I went on a tour to Cuba. It was absolutely wonderful! Sheryl is always on top of the logistics and is very detail oriented, so you do not have to worry about a thing. Brian is very knowledgeable and taught us so much about the history of Cuba. This was an eye-opening trip where we gained so much while having an awesome vacation. I love that Brian and Sheryl always make an effort to help the Cuban people as much as possible by taking us to Cuban-owned restaurants and places."
College Student, NJ
"History comes to life within all of your senses on a tour with Essential History Expeditions. A magical and professional team of travel experts take care of every detail in order to allow for total immersion. Our tour of Vietnam was beyond my expectations of learning and experiencing in a very visceral way. Brian is an exceptional historian with a gift of language and knowledge that keeps you totally engaged. His passion for sharing historical events, dates and details allows clients to open their minds and absorb the information with contagious thirst. Sheryl's planning and organizational detail along with an amazing agenda and wonderful places to stay provide a stressless and wonderful experience. Very quickly you feel as though you are traveling with family. Even if you are only curious about history of An particular area, you will be more than pleasantly surprised how you will be "pulled In" and want more. Sheryl and Brian will have another repeat customer in me and I will recommend them without pause."
IBM Project Manager
"I have made two trips to Cuba. The most recent visit with Brian DeToy and Essential History Expeditions was far and away the better of the two. Brian has extensive experience in Cuba and his encyclopedic knowledge of the military, social, and political history of the island contributed to a fuller understanding of the nation and its people. His ability to successfully team with Cuban guides enabled the group to see things not on most itineraries. I was impressed with his flexibility to meet the special interests of a group of fortification and coast artillery enthusiasts. Brian's extensive academic training, experience as an instructor at the college level, insight gained as a career Army Infantry officer, and field experience on the ground makes him an interesting, enjoyable, and personable companion and guide."
"I just completed a tour of the Battle of the Bulge, with an add on segment in Prague. Brian and Sheryl run a terrific tour with everything smoothly taken care of. The restaurants were always great, the information from each of them about the history of our locations were superb, and the overall enjoyment level was outstanding. I had previously done a Gettysburg tour which was great, but the European trip surpassed it. Highly recommended."
"Essential History Expeditions is the real deal if you care about history. With Brian DeToy and Sheryl Shafer, you get it all: a guide who is a superb teacher - Brian makes it all vitally interesting and relevant - and a tour manager in Sheryl who is quietly and graciously capable of handling any problem or concern. You will have no worries with them. All you'll be required to do is to love every minute of your tour. We just completed the Normandy and Battle of the Bulge tours, and the moments of true inspiration and emotion were too many to count. Though it is a guided tour, and you will be in a van or bus, you always feel you are sharing important and memorable experiences with a group of friends. And we had the most fantastic food and wine, in beautiful settings!
GO!! You will love it."
"My husband and I just returned from a trip to Prague with EHE. The experience was excellent in every way -- educational, enlightening and fun! Sheryl and Brian are the quintessential tour guides: Brian's encyclopedic knowledge of historical events is beyond impressive, but it's the stories that he weaves into his "lessons" that make the history come alive, ensuring a rich educational and cultural experience for all. Sheryl's attention to detail and quality with all the logistics make it easy to relax and enjoy the full experience. The hospitality and camaraderie they facilitated with the group made it even more fun. As the five-star rating suggests, EHE is as good as it gets for historical tours!"
"My wife and I recently took two trips with Essential History Expeditions -- back-to-back tours of Normandy (D-Day sites) and Belgium and Luxembourg (Battle of the Bulge sites). Both trips were excellent. We learned much about the historic campaigns from a first-rate teacher who loves history, and loves to share his knowledge with others. The tours did not just focus on the opposing armies, but the human stories and faces of battle. The trips were meticulously planned and executed, and when we were not touring, we enjoyed wonderful food in beautiful settings, and the company of friendly travel partners who shared a common purpose of understanding these important moments in history."
"Many thanks for a WONDERFUL trip. We know you've done it several times now, but it is still hard to believe how you put together such a great team and a comprehensive tour. Brian, we have decided that you are the first true Renaissance man we have met. Sheryl, we are in awe over your ability to make things come together so smoothly and never let anything rattle you."
"Just returned from a fantastic and life changing trip to Cuba made possible by Sheryl and Brian and their fabulous supporting cast in country. We had an exceptional exposure to and balance of culture, history and leisure and while we saw 12/15 Cuban provinces, I never felt rushed or overwhelmed. Every member of the EHE team complimented one another and every aspect of the trip was well planned and thought through. Exceptional in every way. What stood out to me was this; many firms can plan a perfect trip. This was Cuba, things change and we were asked to be flexible. Sheryl and Brian seamlessly worked through many changes, altered schedules and never, ever detracted from the experience. I have already referred many friends and plan on more adventures with Sheryl and Brian."
"Brian -- (World's Best Tour Leader!) --
Thanks for a great trip! The other members of the tour felt just like I did -- your knowledge and enthusiasm for what we were seeing made for a great and unique experience. Feel free to give my contact info out to any potential future travelers who might request a reference from a past customer. And thank you for your service in the military, too. Hope to travel with you again soon!"
"Sadly YELP only goes to 5 stars, because this company really deserves ten stars. Over the years I've been on many tours with all the major companies, have done some tour leading myself, and worked in the tourism industry for two of the biggest companies in the US, but I've never had a better experience than my first trip with Essential History Expeditions and their Cuba military history tour last month. Brian and Sheryl have put together a great company that insures the near-perfect travel experience. Our tour leader Brian's connections in Cuba got us very nice hotels and a comfortable travel bus, and an excellent driver and local guide. And Brian knows every inch of the country, so we saw things the other tour companies don't stop at. Plus, he found us some excellent local places to eat some of our group meals, which really made the trip feel like you were getting to know the local people and country close-up. And thank you for the bottles of water on our bus each day! If you want to go to Cuba (or anywhere else), don't go with any other company. I'll definitely be taking some of Brian and Sheryl's other tours in the near future."
"I just completed an Essential History Expedition trip to Cuba led by its Co-owner and guide, Brian DeToy. All I can say is: Wow!This was my 5th trip to Cuba and my first with Brian. By far this was the best. Brian is a caring and knowledgeable guide who has a great sense of humor and is very flexible in meeting requests of tour participants. We followed Cuban military history from Havana to Santiago; covering significant events and places from the early Spanish conquest to the Bay of Pigs and the 1962 Missile Crisis.
But Brian made sure we had a chance to experience all aspects of Cuban culture and history from food and architecture to Ernest Hemingway and Classic Cars. You don't have to be a military history buff to enjoy this trip. The hotel accommodations were always very comfortable, had great amenities and were always centrally located. The restaurants for dinner, which were both state owned and private(paladars) were always first rate. I highly recommend Brian and Essential History Expeditions for your Cuban travel. I look forward to more trip offerings and future travel with this great company."
"Words cannot express how great of a job Brian did in making the tour of the Battle of Little Bighorn come alive for me and my colleagues! He is an incredible historian who's ability to recall all kinds of details and information is unparalleled. I highly recommend his services!"
BYU ROTC, Professor of Military Science
"My wife and I just returned from an amazing ten days in Cuba with Brian and Sheryl. It was truly a life-altering experience. One of the things that had attracted me to EHE initially was the promise of visits to the major Spanish American War sites in Cuba with a retired West Point instructor. Little did I suspect that Brian is in fact something of a Renaissance Man who was just as comfortable taking a group of us through the Museum of Fine Art in Havana as he was conducting our tours of Siboney, Las Guasimas, El Caney, and Kettle and San Juan Hills. Meanwhile, Sheryl handled the logistics of the trip with the dexterity of someone who has been traveling to Cuba for decades.
EHE asked us in advance of the trip to be flexible given the nature of travel in Cuba, but there was really little patience required of me that was not the fault of an airline or airport security, and Brian and Sheryl were always able to help work out the minor issues that did arise. The restaurants and hotels they chose for our group were all top notch; the Iberostar Grand Trinidad hotel was memorable beyond expectations, and the farm to table restaurant we visited in Pinar del Rio was out of this world.
I would be remiss in not mentioning our outstanding Cuban guides, Hiroshi and Eliar, who did a terrific job of familiarizing us with life in Cuba, and our masterful bus drivers, Nestor and Lester, who amazed us with their skill at maneuvering a bus through both difficult terrain and city streets. I am missing Cuba already, and would be ready to return next year - with Brian and Sheryl, of course! Que Pais!"
"I took the military history version of Brian's Cuba tour in March 2017. I was very impressed with Brian's knowledge and skill in explaining this history. We studied the Spanish American War, the first and second Wars for Cuban Independence (from Spain), the British siege of Havana (1762), and the Cuban Revolution (including the Bay of Pigs counter-revolutionary efforts). I have been looking for this type of Cuban tour for a long time and was delighted with the results."
"Want to give a long overdue shout out to Essential History Expeditions. Brian DeToy and Sheryl Rankin Shafer led us on a fabulous historical adventure through Cuba last March. If you are looking to up your game on travel and vacationing so as to return home feeling enriched and thankful, I highly recommend their historical journeys. Brian's infectious passion and amazing knowledge and talent for weaving the tales of time are priceless whether you are a history buff or not. We are thinking to do Vietnam with them in April. Would love to have some friends join us?!"
Small Business Owner
"My October Cuba trip with Essential History Expeditions was by far one of
the best, well-organized, educational as well as enjoyable that I have
participated in. Brian was an exceptional host with deep knowledge and
Retired Business Executive, Brookline, MA
"I have traveled many parts of the world and done several group tours. Traveling to Cuba with Brian and Sheryl was one of my best travel experiences ever! Their passion toward history and dedication to sharing culture was unmatched in any tour I've ever done. Everything was well planned, perfectly executed and most importantly, lots of fun! I look forward to my next trip with them.
Middle School Social Studies Teacher, McFarland, WI
"You've created one of the best historical tour companies in the country. Your trips are filled with rich information and fun. I look forward to taking a third trip with you and Brian. You have a wonderful Magical History Tour.
Vice President, Wells Fargo Advisors
"I recently took Essential History Expeditiion's tour of the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields. I have visited both battlefields before, but I wanted to take a more in-depth tour than those offered at the sites. I chose this tour after seeing Sheryl and Brian's presentation at a local travel store. The tour was phenomenal, even better than I expected. Brian's knowledge of the events at both sites is amazing and he presents the events of the battle in a such a way that the battles almost come to life. For example, as we walked the route of Pickett's Charge, learned how topography played an important role in the battle. The tour also includes three nights at a lovely Bed and Breakfast and dinners at some of the best restaurants in the area. I highly recommend this tour. I hope to take another tour with Brian very soon. Cuba and Normandy are at the top of my list!
"Brian brings you into history, like putting you in a time machine and transporting you back in time to that historic moment. You get to relive history through role-play and hands-on demonstrations, and Brian provides the backdrop and history behind each event to highlight the significance of the decisions that were made. Brian makes history alive and relevant.
"My family and friends recently toured Normandy with Brian DeToy. We initially planned four days but could have spent many more days. The tour was a spectacular adventure and a lifetime memory for all of us! It was a shared experience that no matter the age (the ages in our group were 21-81) the experience was emotionally charged, incredibly educational and greatly social. The experience bolted to the top of all my vacations, tours and trips around the world. Brian possesses an encyclopedic knowledge, not only of the Normandy battlefield, military tactics and leaders, but also of the common men and women whose lives were greatly impacted by the D-Day invasion. In addition, his extensive interests and experience took us far beyond WWII, as we explored French culture and history of over a thousand years. A trip with Brian and Essential History Expeditions is an immersive experience that none in our group will ever forget!
President, 1-800-Flowers, Harry & David
"My wife and I, along with our adult son, enjoyed an Essential History Expedition to Cuba this past October. We are all well-traveled in Latin America, and my son and I are both fluent in Spanish, so the lure to see Cuba before there's a Starbucks on every corner was irresistible. Brian and Sheryl's travel package hit a delicate balance between understanding the historical perspective, and embracing the existing culture. Furthermore, the small group of ten intrepid voyagers included delightful, funny, knowledgeable, and flexible co-travelers.
We started with a dinner for most, but not all, of the group at the hotel in Miami, where we began to get to know each other, and traded stories on the paths that landed us in the care of Brian and Sheryl. The next morning, we were ready, willing and waiting at Miami International Airport, where we continued to wait for a flight that was six hours delayed. We knew we had a good group when that news was met with a shrug of acceptance. Traveling in Latin America often requires a certain sense of existentialism, where anything can change at any time for no apparent reason, and our people seemed to roll with it, which was an excellent sign.
First stop was Santiago de Cuba, and the fun began. The ubiquitous colonial architecture is reminiscent of Cartagena or Cuenca, but the late 1950s American automobiles and the 1960s-80s Russian automobiles are unique to Cuba. While Sheryl deftly handled the logistics, Brian waxed eloquent on the colonial history up to the seeds of the Revolution, and Santiago's role in both. Throughout the rest of the trip, including Havana, the Bay of Pigs, and Cienfuegos, as well as side trips, Brian enlightened, but never overwhelmed, and casually displayed his encyclopedic professorial education on a broad array of topics.
One delightful aspect of the trip was that Brian had offered the opportunity for each traveler to choose a character from Cuban history, and to play the role of that character at pertinent times during the trip. My wife chose a revolutionary figure, I chose Ernest Hemingway, and we assigned our son Emilio Bacardi which, given our consumption of Mojitos and Daiquiris, seemed appropriate. For our small and friendly group, that mechanism served us all very well.
The food was always ample, always healthy, and occasionally very good, even the crocodile. Private sector services are only just emerging in the Cuban economy, and the private restaurants were easily distinguishable from their government-run counterparts. There was often a protracted negotiation about whether the price of the meal did or did not include a cocktail of some variety, which Sheryl handled with a relaxed aplomb.
The hotels we stayed in tended to be quite modern, although Brian and Sheryl indicated they had planned on some older properties, only to have arrangements changed at the last moment. They were very well appointed, although again, a lack of infrastructure led to logistical challenges from time to time, but nothing major.
Music played a wonderful role on our travels. Brian and Sheryl arranged a private concert and dance lesson outside Santiago and a very splashy and professional floorshow at the famed Tropicana Club in Havana, but Cuba spontaneously offered live music and dancing along every block, and occasionally right out in the middle of the road.
I cannot recommend this experience enough. It won't be a five-star tour through a first-world country, but it will be an immersive Cuban experience before Cuba is changed irreparably.
Senior Category Director, Plantronics
"After presenting the Battle of Gettysburg to high school students for over thirty years and reading numerous books on the topic, I was shocked at the new insight Brian provided. We were not surprised when he knew every detail of this military engagement, but his focus on the human element made the battle come alive. His stories and personal commentary brought to life the drama and the tragedy that our forefathers faced in July 1863 in Pennsylvania.
Retired History Teacher
"Having taken multiple tours in Normandy and Gettysburg, I can say with confidence that Essential History Expeditions is a premiere experience. What makes it such a rich experience is Brian DeToy. Unlike other historians, Brian brings a unique perspective that creates a surreal experience. Taking a tour with Brian is like riding across a battlefield with Napoleon, Nathanael Greene, or George S. Greene. Brian can bring out the decision-making cycles of these leaders because he has lived that life himself. His knowledge of history-- combined with three decades of mentoring young officers, teaching West Point cadets, and commanding Infantrymen-- enables Brian the ability to capture the nuanced details other historians overlook. Perhaps most important is Brian’s passion for sharing history. He believes in what he is doing and that makes the entire experience a true delight!
Francisco J. Leija
White House Fellow
"I’ve been to Normandy several times, but the trip that shaped my in-depth understanding of the events leading to its liberation was this one! Brian’s expertise as a teacher and as a soldier brought those days surrounding D-Day to life. He is the consummate historian/story teller! In addition, the trip was very well organized with no weak links. I am looking forward to more trips with Essential History Expeditions!
"My experience with Brian’s teaching events has been nothing short of phenomenal. His ability to analyze complex problems, provide historical context, and portray the human dimension of leadership is unparalleled. Brian’s scenarios are consistently challenging, stimulating, and informative. In 28 years of active military service, I count Brian’s events as the best leadership development I received.
Col. Jeffrey Stewart
Deputy Chief of Staff, Canadian Joint Operations Command
"Lt. Col. DeToy was brilliant, engaging and essentially an encyclopedia of information on the battle and the events of the era. I have been to the battlefield nearly 10 times and read countless books and articles on the battle, but nothing compares to spending two days under the leadership of Lt. Col. DeToy.
Douglas A. Cifu
President and COO of VirtuFinancial
"Brian was, in a word, spectacular.
Gen. (Ret) James Hill
Former Commander, US Southern Command
"I loved the entire simulation experience of the battles at Antietam and Gettysburg. I loved the depth of knowledge I received from Brian. I loved the simulations from using people to represent the various military units, to the marching, to the rush up the rocky hill before Little Round Top. Brian’s words and the personal experiences he shared at the cemetery were moving. The opportunity to be reflective about how I feel regarding the sacrifices so many living and dead have made on behalf of my freedoms was overwhelming. The time spent in gratitude was precious to me. What means even more, though, was that my daughters had that experience. With so much that is jaded, cynical, and denigrated it was invaluable for them to have the opportunity feel the purity of that sacrifice, the goodness of it. I am so grateful.
Mary Catherine York
"Brian exquisitely illuminated the most profound lessons of history to his audience. As a sage and passionate historian, Brian fomented heartfelt and deeply intellectual appreciation for the hallowed grounds we walked. His historical battlefield mentorship routinely built stronger teams among students, faculty and military units by inspiring the young, old, civilian and military alike to grow in their own individual capacity for leadership and citizenry. Simply put, a staff ride or battlefield tour with Brian is a brilliant experience.
Maj. John C. Stroh
US Army Officer and Infantryman
"Going on a three-day staff ride to Gettysburg under the leadership of Brian DeToy was the single best educational experience of my life…. As a history professor at both the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy, I have spent the last twelve years trying to create an atmosphere as conducive to learning as that which Brian established during those three days at Gettysburg.
Associate Professor, US Air Force Academy
"Brian spoke first-hand as though he was reincarnated from 1799."
Anonymous Survey Feedback
"By completely immersing ourselves into the event, Brian taught me ways to engage and challenge others by using historical vignettes, anecdotes, and military tactics. Brian DeToy is a masterful teacher and presenter. He has an uncanny knack for leadership, and he can command any group’s attention.
Maj. Jamie Uptgraft
US Army Officer and Infantryman
"At Gettysburg, we benefited from Brian’s deep historical expertise, his knowledge of the terrain, and his insights into many personalities that shaped this incredible battle—a battle that, indeed, shaped our country. Brian provides deep and fascinating insights at all levels: leadership, decision-making, strategic, operational, and tactical.
President, Tychon Life Sciences Recruiting
"Brian stopped our group in the middle of Antietam Creek, adjacent to Burnsides’ Bridge, and recounted the decision-making process, leadership challenges and motivation for the forces arrayed on both sides of the span. He possesses a unique blend of insight and passion to make his lessons resonate for years. Brian DeToy captivates his participants, getting them involved in their learning in ways that would otherwise be impossible.
PhD, Department of History, University of Dayton
"I've often wished I could once again listen to memorable lectures and banter with a special professor. I would think "If I had that opportunity again, I would get so much more out of it now; I would know to truly appreciate it." With EHE and Brian DeToy you get that chance, with a wonderful vacation thrown in. Brian is more than a poised, confident and enthusiastic guide; he is an educator. He is careful to tailor his presentations so that all members of the audience, whatever their age or background, will come away with a memorable experience. If you prefer to sit back and listen or jump up and reenact a historical figure, there is something for everyone here. Brian is seemingly indefatigable as well; he can lead a recreated patrol through the hedgerows of Normandy then hold court into the evening hours displaying a masterly command of a wide range of topics. Regarding the vacation aspect of the trip, EHE is a bargain considering the quality and depth of the experience. The scouting trips Brian and his wife Sheryl take before result in wonderful local food and accommodations for their clients' trips. Sheryl competently manages all aspects of the day-to-day experience so that Brian can concentrate on sharing his knowledge and passion of the area and its history. My wife and I have taken two trips with them so far with our Cuba adventure coming up this October. EHE trips will continue to be one of the experiences we very much look forward to in the coming years. Regarding Essential History Expeditions, I would simply tell anyone that we plan on using them for the rest of our lives. While we consider ourselves blessed to be friends with the owners, anyone signing up for one of your tours will be friends at the end.
"We ended our Civil War tour at the Gettysburg National Cemetery. This is where it all came together for me. We had walked the battlefields, had seen where brother had fought brother, had heard Brian tell us their stories, yet I still couldn't wrap my head around the justification for so much bloodshed. Here at the cemetery, Brian shared his love for his cadets who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. And I finally understood the heart of a soldier. I am so grateful for their dedication and courage and I hope that we can continue "to take increased devotion to that cause which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion". We each had chosen a stone from somewhere on the battlefields and at the cemetery we placed that stone on the grave of a fallen soldier and spent some quiet, sacred time honoring and thanking him for his sacrifice. Lauren carefully weaved a wreath of fallen leaves around the headstone of her unknown soldier. It was very moving to see that all the youth on the trip had taken Brian's lessons to heart.