A first-hand account of the USS England's accomplishments, written by its commanding officer
The USS England was a 1200-ton, 306-foot, long-hull destroyer escort. Commissioned into service in late 1943 and dispatched to the Pacific the following February, the England and its crew, in one 12-day period in 1944, sank more submarines than any other ship in U.S. naval history: of the six targets attacked, all six were destroyed. For this distinction, legendary in the annals of antisubmarine warfare, the ship and her crew were honored with the Presidential Unit Citation.
After convoying in the Atlantic, John A. Williamson was assigned to the England—first as its executive officer, then as its commanding officer—from the time of her commissioning until she was dry-docked for battle damage repairs in the Philadelphia Naval Yard fifteen months later. Besides being a key participant in the remarkable antisubmarine actions, Williamson commanded the England in the battle of Okinawa, where she was attacked by kamikaze planes.
Williamson narrates his memoir with authority and authenticity, describes naval tactics and weaponry precisely, and provides information gleaned from translations of the orders from the Japanese high command to Submarine Squadron 7. The author details the challenges of communal life aboard ship and explains the intense loyalty that bonds crew members for life. Ultimately, Williamson offers a compelling portrait of himself, an inexperienced naval officer who, having come of age in Alabama during the Depression, rose to become the most successful World War II antisubmarine warfare officer in the Pacific.
A forgotten account, written in the immediate aftermath of World War II, which vividly portrays the valor, sacrifice, suffering, and liberation of the defenders of Bataan and Corregidor through the eyes of one survivor.
The personal memoir of Colonel David L. Hardee, first drafted at sea from April-May 1945 following his liberation from Japanese captivity, is a thorough treatment of his time in the Philippines. A career infantry officer, Hardee fought during the Battle of Bataan as executive officer of the Provisional Air Corps Regiment. Captured in April 1942 after the American surrender on Bataan, Hardee survived the Bataan Death March and proceeded to endure a series of squalid prison camps. A debilitating hernia left Hardee too ill to travel to Japan in 1944, making him one of the few lieutenant colonels to remain in the Philippines and subsequently survive the war. As a primary account written almost immediately after his liberation, Hardee’s memoir is fresh, vivid, and devoid of decades of faded memories or contemporary influences associated with memoirs written years after an experience. This once-forgotten memoir has been carefully edited, illustrated and annotated to unlock the true depths of Hardee’s experience as a soldier, prisoner, and liberated survivor of the Pacific War.
Ralph Kirshner has provided a richly illustrated forum to enable the West Point class of 1861 to write its own autobiography. Through letters, journals, and published accounts, George Armstrong Custer, Adelbert Ames, and their classmates tell in their own words of their Civil War battles and of their varied careers after the war.
Two classes graduated from West Point in 1861 because of Lincoln's need of lieutenants: forty-five cadets in Ames's class in May and thirty-four in Custer's class in June. The cadets range from Henry Algernon du Pont, first in the class of May, whose ancestral home is now Winterthur Garden, to Custer, last in the class of June. “Only thirty-four graduated,” remarked Custer, “and of these thirty-three graduated above me.” West Point's mathematics professor and librarian Oliver Otis Howard, after whom Howard University is named, is also portrayed.
Other famous names from the class of 1861 are John Pelham, Emory Upton, Thomas L. Rosser, John Herbert Kelly (the youngest general in the Confederacy when appointed), Patrick O'Rorke (head of the class of June), Alonzo Cushing, Peter Hains, Edmund Kirby, John Adair (the only deserter in the class), and Judson Kilpatrick (great-grandfather of Gloria Vanderbilt). They describe West Point before the Civil War, the war years, including the Vicksburg campaign and the battle of Gettysburg, the courage and character of classmates, and the ending of the war.
Kirshner also highlights postwar lives, including Custer at Little Bighorn; Custer's rebel friend Rosser; John Whitney Barlow, who explored Yellowstone; du Pont, senator and author; Kilpatrick, playwright and diplomat; Orville E. Babcock, Grant's secretary until his indictment in the "Whiskey Ring"; Pierce M. B. Young, a Confederate general who became a diplomat; Hains, the only member of the class to serve on active duty in World War I; and Upton, "the class genius."
The Class of 1861, which features eighty-three photographs, includes a foreword by George Plimpton, editor of theParis Review and great-grandson of General Adelbert Ames.
The Colonel and The Pacifist
Klancy Clark De Nevers University of Utah Press, 2004 Library of Congress D769.8.A6D44 2004 | Dewey Decimal 940.53089956073
Executive Order 9066. In February 1942, ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt put his signature to a piece of paper that allowed the forced removal of Americans of Japanese ancestry from their West Coast homes, and their incarceration in makeshift camps. Those are the facts. But two faces emerge from behind these facts: Karl R. Bendetsen, the Army major who was promoted to full colonel and placed in charge of the evacuation after formulating the concept of 'military necessity,' and who penned the order Roosevelt signed, and Perry H. Saito, a young college student, future Methodist minister, and former neighbor from Bendetsen’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington who was incarcerated in Tule Lake Relocation Camp.
The Colonel and the Pacifist tells the story of two men caught up in one of the most infamous episodes in American history. While they never met, Bendetsen and Saito’s lives touched tangentially—from their common hometown to their eventual testimony during the 1981 hearings of the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. In weaving together these contrasting stories, Klancy Clark de Nevers not only exposes unknown or little known aspects of World War II history, she also explores larger issues of racism and war that resonate through the years and ring eerily familiar to our post-9/11 ears.
In this fascinating memoir William S. Triplet continues the saga begun in his earlier book, A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne: A Memoir, 1917-1918. After serving in World War I, Triplet chose to become a career military man and entered West Point. Upon graduation in 1924, his assignments were routine—to regiments in the Southwest and in Panama or as an officer in charge of Reserve Officers' Training Corps units or of men sent to a tank school. All this changed, however, when a new war opened in Europe.
From 1940 to1942, Triplet was assigned to the Infantry Board at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he engaged in testing new weapons and machines for the expanding army. He became a full colonel in December 1942. After leaving Benning he received posts with four armored forces: the Thirteenth Armored Division forming in the United States, an amphibious tank and troop carrier group training at Fort Ord, California, and the Second and Seventh Armored Divisions in Europe. His extraordinary abilities as a tank commander became evident in the Seventh Armored, where he took over a four-thousand-man unit known as Combat Command A. He was soon moving from triumph to triumph as he led his unit into Germany. Here was much room for professional judgment and decision, and the colonel was in his element. In the war's last days Triplet and his men fought their way to the Baltic, preventing many German troops from joining in the defense of Berlin against the advancing Soviet army.
Although Triplet was recommended for brigadier general, Dwight D. Eisenhower believed the U.S. Army had enough generals to finish the war; thus, the indomitable Triplet served out the few remaining years of his career as a colonel. After retiring in 1954, Triplet moved to Leesburg, Virginia, where he soon began to mull over his military experiences. Fascinated by the history he had witnessed, engaged by the attraction of writing about it, he recorded his memories with a combination of verve, thoughtfulness, and harsh judgments concerning ranking officers he considered incompetent— generals not excluded.
Through his annotations, Robert H. Ferrell provides the historical context for Triplet's experiences. Well written and completely absorbing, A Colonel in the Armored Divisions provides readers the rare opportunity to see firsthand what a real professional in the U.S. Army thought about America's preparation for and participation in the war against Germany and Japan.
Among field officers in the Confederate Army, colonels had the greatest life-or-death power over the average soldier. Usually regimental commanders who were charged with instructing their men in drill, many also led brigades or divisions, and the influence of an outstanding colonel could be recognized throughout the army.
While several books have dealt with the Confederacy’s generals, this is the first comprehensive study of its colonels. Bruce S. Allardice has undertaken exhaustive research to uncover a wealth of facts not previously available and to fill in many gaps in previous scholarship on the 1,583 men who achieved the rank of full colonel by the end of their careers—including both staff and line officers and members of all armies.
A biographical article on each man includes such data as date and place of birth, education, prewar occupation and military experience, service record, instances of being wounded or captured, postwar life and death, and available writings on the officer or manuscript collections of his papers. Throughout, Allardice follows Confederate law and surviving government records in determining an officer’s true rank, and he uses the regimental designations from the compiled service records in the National Archives as the most familiar to researchers. Appendixes list state army colonels, colonels who became generals, and colonels whose rank cannot be proved.
In his introduction, Allardice gives readers a clear understanding of the characteristics of a colonel in the Confederacy. He explains how one became a colonel—the mustering process, election of officers, reorganizing of regiments—and exposes the inadequacies of the officer-nominating process, questions of seniority, and problems of “rank inflation.” He highlights such notable figures as John S. Mosby, the “Grey Ghost,” and George Smith Patton, great-grandfather of WWII general George S. Patton, and also provides statistics on such matters as states of origin, age, and casualties.
This single-volume compendium sheds new light on these interesting and important military figures and features more standard information than can be found in similar references. Confederate Colonels belongs at the side of every Civil War historian or buff, whether as a research tool or as a touchstone for other readings.
Desert Mementos is a collection of loosely connected short stories set during the early stages of the Iraq War (2004 and 2005). The stories rotate from battles with insurgents and the drudgery of the war machine in Iraq to Nevada, where characters are either preparing for war, escaping it during their leave, or returning home having seen what they’ve seen.
Cage captures similarities in the respective desert landscapes of both Iraq and Nevada, but it is not just a study in contrasting landscapes. The inter-connected stories explore similarities and differences in human needs from the perspectives of vastly different cultures. Specifically, the stories deftly capture the overlap in the respective desert landscapes of each region, the contrasting cultures and worldviews, and the common need for hope. Taken together, the stories represent the arc of a year-long deployment by young soldiers. Cage’s stories are bound together by the soldier’s searing experiences in the desert, bookended by leaving and returning home to Nevada, which in many ways can be just as disorienting as patrolling the Iraq desert.
Conveys in dramatic detail the high-risk, covert operations of a nuclear attack submarine during the zenith of the Cold War
Captain Alfred Scott McLaren served as commander of the USS Queenfish (SSN 651) from September 1969 to May 1973, the very height of the Cold War. As commander, McLaren led at least six major clandestine operations, including the first-ever exploration of the entire Siberian Continental Shelf: a perilous voyage detailed in his previous book Unknown Waters.
Emergency Deep: Cold War Missions of a Submarine Commander conveys the entire spectrum of Captain McLaren’s experiences commanding the USS Queenfish, mainly in the waters of the Russian Far East and also off Vietnam. McLaren offers a riveting and deeply human story that illuminates the intensity and pressures of commanding a nuclear attack submarine in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
Relying on his own notes and records, as well as discussions with former officers and shipmates, McLaren focuses on operational matters both great and small. He recounts his unique perspectives on attack-submarine tactics and exploratory techniques in high-risk or uncharted areas, matters of leadership and team-building and the morale of his crews, and the innumerable and often unforeseen ways his philosophy of command played out on a day-to-day basis, with consequences that ran the gamut from the mundane to the dire and life-threatening.
Readers are also treated to significant new information and insight on submarine strategy, maneuvers, and culture. Such details illuminate and bring to life, with both great humor and gravitas, the intensity and pressures on those engaged in covert missions on nuclear attack submarines.
In the summer of 1862, the U.S. Army court martialed Colonel John B. Turchin, a Russian-born Union officer, for "outrages" committed by his troops in Athens, Alabama
In the summer of 1862, the U.S. Army court martialed Colonel John B. Turchin, a Russian-born Union officer, for offenses committed by his troops in Athens, Alabama, including looting, safe cracking, the vandalization of homes, and the rape of young black woman. The pillage of Athens violated a government policy of conciliation; it was hoped that if Southern civilians were treated gently as citizens of the United States, they would soon return their allegiance to the federal government.
By examining the volunteers who made up Turchin’s force, the colonel's trial, his subsequent promotion, the policy debate surrounding the incident and the public reaction to the outcome, the authors further illuminate one of the most provocative questions in Civil War studies: how did the policy set forth by President Lincoln evolve from one of conciliation to one far more modern in nature, placing the burden of war on the civilian population of the South?
The central figure in the modernization of the U.S. Navy.
The career of Washington Irving Chambers spans a formative period in the development of the United States Navy: He entered the Naval Academy in the doldrum years of obsolete, often rotting ships, and left after he had helped like-minded officers convince Congress and the public of the need to adopt a new naval strategy built around a fleet of technologically advanced battleships. He also laid the groundwork for naval aviation and the important role it would play in the modern navy.
This work covers Chambers’s early naval career, his work at the new Office of Naval Intelligence, his participation in the Greeley Relief Expedition, and a survey for the projected isthmian canal through Nicaragua, before becoming the key advocate for naval modernization. As such, Chambers worked as a pioneering torpedo designer, supervised construction of the Maine, modernized the New York Navy Yard, and became a member of the first permanent faculty at the Naval War College.
During his long career, Chambers not only designed torpedoes, but also several warships, including a prototype Dreadnought-style battleship and a host of small devices that ranged from torpedo guidance systems to the first catapult for launching airplanes from ships. At the close of his career, Chambers purchased the navy’s first aircraft and founded its air arm. Working with Glenn Curtiss, Chambers guided a coalition of aviation enthusiasts and pioneers who popularized naval aviation and demonstrated its capabilities. Chambers arranged the first take-off and landing of an airplane from a ship and other demonstrations of naval aviation. Combined with his tireless advocacy for modernization, these contributions secured a place in naval and aviation history for the innovator.
This edition of The General Catalogue of Officers and Students of the University of Michigan follows closely the plan of the edition of 1902. Part I presents the names of all Officers of the University from the organization of the first Board of Regents in 1837 to December 31, 1911; it has been divided into appropriate groups and arranged in chronological order according to date of original appointment. Part II presents the names of all graduates of the University down to the same date; it is arranged alphabetically by classes under each Department of the University. Part III presents the names of all students who matriculated before September 1907, and who have not taken a degree here as well as names of deceased students who matriculated after that date; it has been arranged under one alphabet rather than by departments and classes, for the obvious reason that no precise arrangement of that kind was possible.
Gentleman in the Shadows is a biography of Benjamin C. Evans Jr., a Central Intelligence Agency executive who operated at the top levels of the U.S. intelligence community during the darkest days of the Cold War. After serving as a covert case officer in revolutionary Havana, Cuba, and then managing The Asia Foundation, a sprawling CIA front organization, Evans was promoted to the CIA headquarters’ seventh floor, where the executive directorate team managed world-changing intelligence missions. A socially adept administrator, Evans was the CIA Executive Secretary for seven Directors of Central Intelligence under four presidential administrations. Evans was part of the tumultuous period that included America’s crusade to democratize Occupied Japan, the Korean War, nuclear standoffs with the Soviet Union, the anti-Castro counterrevolutionary movement that climaxed in the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the Family Jewels furor after the CIA’s dirty secrets were revealed. Through his marriage, Evans was a member of America’s elite, which figured so prominently in the U.S. intelligence services. Born and raised in a prosperous family in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Evans was imbued with conservative Hoosier values that celebrated servant-leadership. Following his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Evans’s social savvy and encultured mores stood him in good stead in Occupied Japan, where he served as aide-de-camp to General Eugene Harrison, a decorated World War II intelligence officer and Occupation administrator. It was in Occupied Japan that Evans and the general’s stepdaughter, Jan King, fell in love, and later married. When President Harry Truman recognized he needed a foreign intelligence service, General Harrison was on the commission that established what came to be the CIA. Not too many years later, Harrison and his cohorts insured that his son-in-law Evans, by then a respected military intelligence officer, was offered a position in the agency.CIA families not uncommonly led double lives of sequestered thoughts, unasked questions, and intimate deception. An empathetic family man, Evans paid a psychological price for his emotionally isolated life in the clandestine service.Gentleman in the Shadows is a biography of Benjamin C. Evans Jr., a Central Intelligence Agency executive who operated at the top levels of the U.S. intelligence community during the darkest days of the Cold War. After serving as a covert case officer in revolutionary Havana, Cuba, and then managing The Asia Foundation, a sprawling CIA front organization, Evans was promoted to the CIA headquarters’ seventh floor, where the executive directorate team managed world-changing intelligence missions. A socially adept administrator, Evans was the CIA Executive Secretary for seven Directors of Central Intelligence under four presidential administrations. Evans was part of the tumultuous period that included America’s crusade to democratize Occupied Japan, the Korean War, nuclear standoffs with the Soviet Union, the anti-Castro counterrevolutionary movement that climaxed in the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the Family Jewels furor after the CIA’s dirty secrets were revealed. Through his marriage, Evans was a member of America’s elite, which figured so prominently in the U.S. intelligence services. Born and raised in a prosperous family in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Evans was imbued with conservative Hoosier values that celebrated servant-leadership. Following his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Evans’s social savvy and encultured mores stood him in good stead in Occupied Japan, where he served as aide-de-camp to General Eugene Harrison, a decorated World War II intelligence officer and Occupation administrator. It was in Occupied Japan that Evans and the general’s stepdaughter, Jan King, fell in love, and later married. When President Harry Truman recognized he needed a foreign intelligence service, General Harrison was on the commission that established what came to be the CIA. Not too many years later, Harrison and his cohorts insured that his son-in-law Evans, by then a respected military intelligence officer, was offered a position in the agency.CIA families not uncommonly led double lives of sequestered thoughts, unasked questions, and intimate deception. An empathetic family man, Evans paid a psychological price for his emotionally isolated life in the clandestine service.
From October 2006 to December 2007, Daniel A. Sjursen—then a U.S. Army lieutenant—led a light scout platoon across Baghdad. The experiences of Ghost Rider platoon provide a soldier’s-eye view of the incredible complexities of warfare, peacekeeping, and counterinsurgency in one of the world’s most ancient cities. Sjursen reflects broadly and critically on the prevailing narrative of the surge as savior of America’s longest war, on the overall military strategy in Iraq, and on U.S. relations with ordinary Iraqis. At a time when just a handful of U.S. senators and representatives have a family member in combat, Sjursen also writes movingly on questions of America’s patterns of national service. Who now serves and why? What connection does America’s professional army have to the broader society and culture? What is the price we pay for abandoning the model of the citizen soldier? With the bloody emergence of ISIS in 2014, Iraq and its beleaguered, battle-scarred people are again much in the news. Unlike other books on the U.S. war in Iraq, Ghost Riders of Baghdad is part battlefield chronicle, part critique of American military strategy and policy, and part appreciation of Iraq and its people. At once a military memoir, history, and cultural commentary, Ghost Riders of Bahdad delivers a compelling story and a deep appreciation of both those who serve and the civilians they strive to protect. Sjursen provides a riveting addition to our understanding of modern warfare and its human costs.
Tracing the origins and history of Missouri Confederate units that served during the Civil War is nearly as difficult as comprehending the diverse politics that produced them. Deeply torn by the issues that caused the conflict, some Missourians chose sides enthusiastically, others reluctantly, while a number had to choose out of sheer necessity, for fence straddling held no sway in the state after the fighting began. The several thousand that sided with the Confederacy formed a variety of military organizations, some earning reputations for hard fighting exceeded by few other states, North or South. Unfortunately, the records of Missouri's Confederate units have not been adequately preserved—officially or otherwise—until now. James E. McGhee is a highly respected and widely published authority on the Civil War in Missouri; the scope of this book is startling, the depth of detail gratifying, its reliability undeniable, and the unit narratives highly readable. McGhee presents accounts of the sixty-nine artillery, cavalry, and infantry units in the state, as well as their precedent units and those that failed to complete their organization. Relying heavily on primary sources, such as rosters, official reports, order books, letters, diaries, and memoirs, he weaves diverse materials into concise narratives of each of Missouri's Confederate organizations. He lists the field-grade officers for battalions and regiments, companies and company commanders, and places of origin for each company when known. In addition to listing all the commanding officers in each unit, he includes a bibliography germane to the unit, while a supplemental bibliography provides the other sources used in preparing this unique and comprehensive resource.
An insightful, detailed, and invaluable account of daily life in the Union Navy
On May 18, 1862, Henry Willis Wells wrote a letter to his mother telling her in clear terms, “I am fighting for the Union.” Since August 1861, when he joined the US Navy as a master’s mate he never wavered in his loyalty. He wrote to his family frequently that he considered military service a necessary and patriotic duty, and the career that ensued was a dramatic one, astutely and articulately documented by Wells in more than 200 letters home, leaving an invaluable account of daily life in the Union Navy.
Wells joined the navy shortly after the war began, initially on board the Cambridge, attached to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which patrolled the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. He witnessed the Battle of Hampton Roads and the fight between the ironclads CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor. Next, the Cambridge assisted in the blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina. In one instance, the warship chased the schooner J. W. Pindar ashore during her attempt to run the blockade, and Confederate forces captured Henry’s boarding party. After a short prison stay in the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, his Confederate captors paroled Henry. He travelled back to Brookline, and soon thereafter the Navy Department assigned him to the gunboat Ceres, which operated on the sounds and rivers of North Carolina, protecting army positions ashore. Henry was on board during the Confederate attempt to capture Washington, North Carolina. During this April 1863 attack, Henry was instrumental in the town’s defense, commanding a naval battery ashore during the latter part of the fight.
His exceptional service gained him a transfer to a larger warship, the USS Montgomery, again on the blockade of Wilmington. Later the service assigned him to the Gem of the Sea, part of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. Through his hard work and professionalism, he finally earned his first command. In September 1864, he became the commanding officer of the Rosalie, a sloop used as a tender to the local warships. Later he commanded the schooner Annie, also a tender. At the end of December 1864, however, the Annie suffered a massive explosion, killing all hands, including Wells. He was twenty-three years old when his life and career ended tragically. Wells’s letters document both his considerable achievements and his frustrations. His challenges, triumphs, and disappointments are rendered with candor. I Am Fighting for the Union is a vital and deeply personal account of a momentous chapter in the history of the Civil War and its navies.
Pierpont Stackpole was a Boston lawyer who in January 1918 became aide to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett, soon to be commander of the first American corps in France. Stackpole’s diary, published here for the first time, is a major eyewitness account of the American Expeditionary Forces’ experience on the Western Front, offering an insider’s view into the workings of Liggett’s commands, his day-to-day business, and how he orchestrated his commands in trying and confusing situations.
Hunter Liggett did not fit John J. Pershing’s concept of the trim and energetic officer, but Pershing entrusted to him a corps and then an army command. Liggett assumed leadership of the U.S. First Army in mid-October of 1918, and after reorganizing, reinforcing, and resting, the battle-weary troops broke through the German lines in a fourth attack at the Meuse-Argonne—accomplishing what Pershing had failed to do in three previous attempts. The victory paved the way to armistice on November 11.
Liggett has long been a shadowy figure in the development of the American high command. He was “Old Army,” a veteran of Indian wars who nevertheless kept abreast of changes in warfare and more than other American officers was ready for the novelties of 1914–1918. Because few of his papers have survived, the diary of his aide—who rode in the general’s staff car as Liggett unburdened himself about fellow generals and their sometimes abysmal tactical notions—provides especially valuable insights into command within the AEF.
Stackpole’s diary also sheds light on other figures of the war, presenting a different view of the controversial Major General Clarence Edwards than has recently been recorded and relating the general staff’s attitudes about the flamboyant aviation figure Billy Mitchell. General Liggett built the American army in France, and the best measure of his achievement is this diary of his aide. That record stands here as a fascinating and authentic look at the Great War.
In the Philippines and Okinawa, the third volume of Colonel William S. Triplet's memoirs, tells of Triplet's experiences during the American occupations in the early years after World War II. Continuing the story from the preceding books of his memoirs, A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne and A Colonel in the Armored Divisions, Triplet takes us to the Philippines, where his duties included rounding up isolated groups of Japanese holdouts, men who refused to believe or admit that their nation had lost the war, and holding them until the time came to transport them back to Japan.
Triplet also had to reorganize his battalions and companies to raise morale, which had plummeted with the end of the war and the seemingly dull tasks of occupation. When he took over his assignment of commanding a regiment in a division, he was dismayed to discover the unmilitary habits of almost everyone, regardless of rank. A strict disciplinarian himself, Colonel Triplet, who had served in both world wars, at one time commanding a four-thousand-man combat group, brought his regiment of garrison troops back into shape in a short time.
Okinawa presented the new challenge of bringing order to an island that had seen the deaths of one hundred thousand civilians. Virtually every building on the island had been leveled, and tens of thousands of Japanese defenders had been killed. Triplet was also obliged to oversee the temporary burial of thirteen thousand U.S. servicemen, both soldiers and sailors.
In the Philippines and Okinawa portrays the ever-changing, very human, and frequently dangerous occupation of two East Asian regions that are still important to American foreign policy. Any reader interested in military history or American history will find this memoir engaging.
Alice Kaplan University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress D810.N4K37 2007 | Dewey Decimal 940.5403092
No story of World War II is more triumphant than the liberation of France, made famous in countless photos of Parisians waving American flags and kissing GIs as columns of troops paraded down the Champs Élysées. But one of the least-known stories from that era is also one of the ugliest chapters in the history of Jim Crow. In The Interpreter, celebrated author Alice Kaplan recovers this story both as eyewitnesses first saw it, and as it still haunts us today.
The American Army executed 70 of its own soldiers between 1943 and 1946—almost all of them black, in an army that was overwhelmingly white. Through the French interpreter Louis Guilloux’s eyes, Kaplan narrates two different trials: one of a white officer, one of a black soldier, both accused of murder. Both were court-martialed in the same room, yet the outcomes could not have been more different.
Kaplan’s insight into character and setting creates an indelible portrait of war, race relations, and the dangers of capital punishment.
“A nuanced historical account that resonates with today’s controversies over race and capital punishment.” Publishers Weekly
“American racism could become deadly for black soldiers on the front. The Interpreter reminds us of this sad component of a heroic chapter in American military history.” Los AngelesTimes
“With elegance and lucidity, Kaplan revisits these two trials and reveals an appallingly separate and unequal wartime U.S. military justice system.” MinneapolisStar Tribune
“Kaplan has produced a compelling look at the racial disparities as they were played out…She explores both cases in considerable and vivid detail.” SacramentoBee
This book examines the Reserve Officers Training Corps program as a distinctively American expression of the social, cultural, and political meanings of military service. Since 1950, ROTC has produced nearly two out of three American active duty officers, yet there has been no comprehensive scholarly look at civilian officer education programs in nearly forty years.
While most modern military systems educate and train junior officers at insular academies like West Point, only the United States has relied heavily on the active cooperation of its civilian colleges. Michael Neiberg argues that the creation of officer education programs on civilian campuses emanates from a traditional American belief (which he traces to the colonial period) in the active participation of civilians in military affairs. Although this ideology changed shape through the twentieth century, it never disappeared. During the Cold War military buildup, ROTC came to fill two roles: it provided the military with large numbers of well-educated officers, and it provided the nation with a military comprised of citizen-soldiers. Even during the Vietnam era, officers, university administrators, and most students understood ROTC's dual role. The Vietnam War thus led to reform, not abandonment, of ROTC.
Mining diverse sources, including military and university archives, Making Citizen-Soldiers provides an in-depth look at an important, but often overlooked, connection between the civilian and military spheres.
This comic novel, by the author of The Blossom Festival, is set in Mexican California in 1842 and is based on a true story of mistaken conquest. When Commodore Jones and the crew of the National Intention land in Monterey believing themselves to be bringing freedom and democracy to the benighted Californios, they discover that history has preceded them, that cruelty, betrayal, greed, and lust are already well established there, and that far from existing outside of history, California is a battleground for several contending versions of the past. They also find that their own limitations and illusions are far more powerful than the message of hope that they intend to deliver.
In 1948, just as the Cold War was settling into the form it would maintain for nearly half a century, major antagonists the US and the USSR began maneuvering into a series of dangerously hostile encounters. Trouble had broken out in Poland and Czechoslovakia, but it was in Germany, which had been at the heart of World Wars One and Two, that the first potentially explosive confrontation developed. The USSR, which had suffered more at Germany’s hands than the rest of the Allies combined, may have viewed developments there with heightened fear and irritability. When the western Allies moved to consolidate their areas of control in occupied Germany, the USSR responded by cutting off land access to West Berlin, holding over two million residents of that city hostage in an aggressive act of brinkmanship.
Into this difficult situation the US placed General William Henry Tunner. He was given a task that seemed doomed to failure—to supply a major city by air with everything it needed to survive from food to a winter’s supply of coal—and made it a brilliant success, astonishing the world in a major public relations defeat for the Soviets, and demonstrating the unexpected capacity of air fleets in a postwar world.
My Father’s War tells the compelling story of a unit of Buffalo Soldiers and their white commander fighting on the Italian front during World War II.
The 92nd Division of the Fifth Army was the only African American infantry division to see combat in Europe during 1944 and 1945, suffering more than 3,200 casualties. Members of this unit, known as Buffalo Soldiers, endured racial violence on the home front and experienced racism abroad. Engaged in combat for nine months, they were under the command of southern white infantry officers like their captain, Eugene E. Johnston.
Carolyn Ross Johnston draws on her father’s account of the war and her extensive interviews with other veterans of the 92nd Division to describe the experiences of a naïve southern white officer and his segregated unit on an intimate level. During the war, the protocol that required the assignment of southern white officers to command black units, both in Europe and in the Pacific theater, was often problematic, but Johnston seemed more successful than most, earning the trust and respect of his men at the same time that he learned to trust and respect them. Gene Johnston and the African American soldiers were transformed by the war and upon their return helped transform the nation.
Richard Gribble Catholic University of America Press, 2015 Library of Congress VG23.G75 2015 | Dewey Decimal 271.5302
Navy Priest is a compelling biography of the Jesuit priest and Navy chaplain John Francis (Jake) Laboon. Father Jake made a significant contribution to the United States Navy, both as a World War II submarine officer and, most prominently, during a 22-year career as a chaplain. Laboon served as the first chaplain for the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program, but also served as chaplain at his alma mater the United States Naval Academy, undertook a tour of duty with the US Marines in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Legion of Merit, and later served as Fleet Chaplain of the United States Atlantic Fleet.
On February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions stormed ashore from a naval support force. Among them was green young lieutenant Pat Caruso who became de facto company commander when the five officers ranking him were killed or wounded. He led his rapidly diminishing force steadily forward for the next few days, when a day’s gains were measured in yards. Caruso was eventually wounded himself and was evacuated. Realizing that the heroism of his comrades would be lost by the decimation of his unit, Caruso latched onto any paper he could find and filled every blank space with his memory of the fighting. This edition has a new foreword and index, boasts nine new photographs, and a map of the action. It resumes its place as a classic account of the experience of being in close, direct, and constant contact with a determined enemy at close quarters. Many did not survive; those who did were changed forever.
This young adult biography introduces middle school readers to a remarkable woman who founded the Women’s Army Corps, served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and ran a media empire that included the Houston Post newspaper and radio and TV stations.
Winner, Gold Medal for Biography, Military Writers Society of America, 2015
Oveta Culp Hobby (1905–1995) had a lifetime of stellar achievement. During World War II, she was asked to build a women’s army from scratch—and did. Hobby became Director of the Women’s Army Corps and the first Army woman to earn the rank of colonel. President Eisenhower chose her as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, making her the second woman in history to be appointed to a president’s cabinet. When she wasn’t serving in the government, Hobby worked with her husband, former Texas governor William P. Hobby, to lead a media empire that included the Houston Post newspaper and radio and TV stations. She also supported the Houston community in many ways, from advocating for civil rights for African Americans to donating generously to the Houston Symphony and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Oveta Culp Hobby is the first biography of this important woman. Written for middle school readers, it traces her life from her childhood in Killeen to her remarkable achievements in Washington, DC, and Houston. Debra Winegarten provides the background to help young adult readers understand the times in which Hobby lived and the challenges she faced as a woman in nontraditional jobs. She shows how Hobby opened doors for women to serve in the military and in other professions that still benefit women today. Most of all, Oveta Culp Hobby will inspire young adults to follow their own dreams and turn them into tangible reality.
A New Statesman Book of the Year Winner of the Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize Winner of the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies
“Extraordinary…I could not put it down.” —Margaret MacMillan
“Reveals how ideology corrupts the truth, how untrammeled ambition destroys the soul, and how the vanity of white male supremacy distorts emotion, making even love a matter of state.” —Sonia Purnell, author of A Woman of No Importance
When Attilio Teruzzi, a decorated military officer and early convert to the Fascist cause, married a rising American opera star, his good fortune seemed settled. The wedding was blessed by Mussolini himself. Yet only three years later, Teruzzi, now commander of the Black Shirts, renounced his wife. Lilliana was Jewish, and fascist Italy would soon introduce its first race laws.
The Perfect Fascist pivots from the intimate story of a tempestuous courtship and inconvenient marriage to the operatic spectacle of Mussolini’s rise and fall. It invites us to see in the vain, unscrupulous, fanatically loyal Attilio Teruzzi an exemplar of fascism’s New Man. Victoria De Grazia’s landmark history shows how the personal was always political in the fascist quest for manhood and power. In his self-serving pieties and intimate betrayals, his violence and opportunism, Teruzzi is a forefather of the illiberal politicians of today.
“The brilliance of de Grazia’s book lies in the way that she has made a page-turner of Teruzzi’s chaotic life, while providing a scholarly and engrossing portrait of the two decades of Fascist rule.” —Caroline Moorhead, Wall Street Journal
“Original and important…A probing analysis of the fascist ‘strong man.’ De Grazia’s attention to Teruzzi’s private life, his behavior as suitor and husband, deepens and enriches our understanding of the nature of leadership in Mussolini’s regime and of masculinity, virility, and honor in Italian fascist culture.” —Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism
“This is a perfect book!…Its two entwined narratives—one political and public, the other personal and private—help us understand why the personal is political for those who insist on reshaping people and society.” —Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
Between 1964 and 1985, Brazil lived under the control of a repressive, anticommunist regime, where generals maintained all power. Respect for discipline and the absence of any and all political activity was demanded of lower-ranking officers, while their commanders ran the highest functions of state. Despite these circumstances, dozens of young captains, majors, and colonels believed that they too deserved to participate in the exercise of power. For two decades they carried on a clandestine political life that strongly influenced the regime's evolution. This book tells their story. It is history viewed from below, that pays attention to the origins of these actors, their career paths, their words, and their memories, as recounted not only in traditionally available material but also in numerous personal interviews and unpublished civilian and military archives. This behind-the-scenes political life presents a new perspective on the nature and the internal operations of the Brazilian dictatorial military state.
This book is a translation, with expanded material for English-language readers, of Maud Chirio's original Portuguese-language work, A política nos quartéis: Revoltas e protestos de oficiais na ditadura militar brasileira, which was awarded the Thomas E. Skidmore Prize by the Brazilian National Archives and Brazilian Studies Association.
The U.S. Army has always regarded preparing for war as its peacetime role, but how it fulfilled that duty has changed dramatically over time. J. P. Clark traces the evolution of the Army between the War of 1812 and World War I, showing how differing personal experiences of war and peace among successive generations of professional soldiers left their mark upon the Army and its ways.
Nineteenth-century officers believed that generalship and battlefield command were more a matter of innate ability than anything institutions could teach. They saw no benefit in conceptual preparation beyond mastering technical skills like engineering and gunnery. Thus, preparations for war were largely confined to maintaining equipment and fortifications and instilling discipline in the enlisted ranks through parade ground drill. By World War I, however, Progressive Era concepts of professionalism had infiltrated the Army. Younger officers took for granted that war’s complexity required them to be trained to think and act alike—a notion that would have offended earlier generations. Preparing for War concludes by demonstrating how these new notions set the conditions for many of the successes—and some of the failures—of General Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces.
For decades, presidents of the Association of American Geographers have written insightful columns in the AAG Newsletter. One of the most popular sections of the newsletter, these columns illustrate the changes and consistencies of geography over the past thirty-four years. They offer an insight into the past of the geography discipline and a broader perspective on the future. Previously inaccessible even to most professional geographers, the Presidential Columns will now be available in Presidential Musings from the Meridian: Reflections of the Nature of Geography.
Project 9: The Birth of the Air Commandos in World War II is a thoroughly researched narrative of the Allied joint project to invade Burma by air. Beginning with its inception at the Quebec Conference of 1943 and continuing through Operation Thursday until the death of the brilliant British General Orde Wingate in March 1944, less than a month after the successful invasion of Burma, Project 9 details all aspects of this covert mission, including the selection of the American airmen, the procurement of the aircraft, the joint training with British troops, and the dangerous night-time assault behind Japanese lines by glider.
Based on review of hundreds of documents as well as interviews with surviving Air Commandos, this is the history of a colorful, autonomous, and highly effective military unit that included some of the most recognizable names of the era. Tasked by the General of the Army Air Forces, H. H. “Hap” Arnold, to provide air support for British troops under the eccentric Major General Wingate as they operated behind Japanese lines in Burma, the Air Commandos were breaking entirely new ground in operational theory, tactics, and inter-Allied cooperation. Okerstrom’s in-depth research and analysis in Project 9 shed light on the operations of America’s first foray into special military operations, when these heroes led the way for the formation of modern special operations teams such as Delta Force and Seal Team Six.
Protecting the Empire’s Frontier tells stories of the roughly eighty officers who served in the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot, which served British interests in America during the crucial period from 1767 through 1776. The Royal Irish was one of the most wide-ranging regiments in America, with companies serving on the Illinois frontier, at Fort Pitt, and in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with some companies taken as far afield as Florida, Spanish Louisiana, and present-day Maine. When the regiment was returned to England in 1776, some of the officers remained in America on staff assignments. Others joined provincial regiments, and a few joined the American revolutionary army, taking up arms against their king and former colleagues.
Using a wide range of archival resources previously untapped by scholars, the text goes beyond just these officers’ service in the regiment and tells the story of the men who included governors, a college president, land speculators, physicians, and officers in many other British regular and provincial regiments. Included in these ranks were an Irishman who would serve in the U.S. Congress and as an American general at Yorktown; a landed aristocrat who represented Bath as a member of Parliament; and a naval surgeon on the ship transporting Benjamin Franklin to France. This is the history of the American Revolutionary period from a most gripping and everyday perspective.
An epilogue covers the Royal Irish’s history after returning to England and its part in defending against both the Franco-Spanish invasion attempt and the Gordon Rioters. With an essay on sources and a complete bibliography, this is a treat for professional and amateur historians alike.
The son of an army officer, Conrad S. Babcock graduated from West Point in 1898, just in time for the opening of the Spanish-American War. Because of his father’s position, he managed to secure a place in the force that Major General Wesley Merritt led to Manila to secure the city. The Philippine Insurrection, as Americans described it, began shortly after he arrived. What Babcock observed in subsequent months and years, and details in his memoir, was the remarkable transition the U.S. Army was undergoing. From after the Civil War until just before the Spanish War, the army amounted to 28,000 men. It increased to 125,000, tiny compared with those of the great European nations of France and Germany, but the great change in the army came after its arrival in France in the summer of 1918, when the German army compelled the U.S. to change its nineteenth-century tactics.
Babcock’s original manuscript has been shortened by Robert H. Ferrell into eight chapters which illustrate the tremendous shift in warfare in the years surrounding the turn of the century. The first part of the book describes small actions against Filipinos and such assignments as taking a cavalry troop into the fire-destroyed city of San Francisco in 1906 or duty in the vicinity of Yuma in Arizona when border troubles were heating up with brigands and regular troops. The remaining chapters, beginning in 1918, set out the battles of Soissons (July 18–22) and Saint-Mihiel (September 12–16) and especially the immense battle of the Meuse-Argonne (September 26–November 11), the largest (1.2 million troops involved) and deadliest (26,000 men killed) battle in all of American history.
By the end of his career, Babcock was an adroit battle commander and an astute observer of military operations. Unlike most other officers around him, he showed an ability and willingness to adapt infantry tactics in the face of recently developed technology and weaponry such as the machine gun. When he retired in 1937 and began to write his memoirs, another world war had begun, giving additional context to his observations about the army and combat over the preceding forty years.
Until now, Babcock’s account has only been available in the archives of the Hoover Institution, but with the help of Ferrell's crisp, expert editing, this record of army culture in the first decades of the twentieth century can now reach a new generation of scholars.
During the summer of 1944, the now-legendary American Eighth Air Force was engaged in a ferocious air battle over Europe to bring the Allies victory over the German Third Reich. This is the story of one B-17 navigator and his crewmates, men who faced extraordinary danger with a maturity beyond their years. This vivid and detailed account of combat flying and its psychological toll also recalls the beginning of Robert Grilley’s development as a painter of international renown, as he spends his off-duty time drawing the peaceful Northamptonshire landscape around Deenethorpe airbase.
Wakened with flashlights on their faces in the predawn hours, he and his crew repeatedly face the Luftwaffe in battles five miles high, flying through flak "so thick you could get out and walk on it." Stretching their stamina to the limits, they succeed time after time in their missions to bomb munitions works, railyards, the Leüna synthetic oil plant at Merseburg in eastern Germany, the V2 rocket research center at Peenemünde on the distant Baltic Coast, and even to strike Hitler’s capital city, Berlin.
But Grilley finds interludes of unexpected grace and restoration on his days off, making serious drawings from nature at the neighboring Yokehill Farm. There he slowly cultivates a friendship with a curious eight-year-old, the lively child Elizabeth, who becomes for the combat flyer a symbol of survival.
In April 1917 a sophomore at Indiana University, inspired by his grandfather's service in the Union army during the Civil War, left school and enlisted with a National Guard unit in Indianapolis that became the 150th Field Artillery Regiment. Before long the young man, Elmer W. Sherwood, found himself fighting in France. Sherwood kept a diary of his time overseas, including his experiences in the army of occupation following the war's end. A Soldier in World War I: The Diary of Elmer W. Sherwood captures the words of the Hoosier as he wrote them on the front lines. The book also includes a shipboard diary Sherwood sent home from France shortly after his arrival, which appeared in his hometown newspaper.
A Marine’s highly personal memoir reliving the hellish days of a pivotal conflict of the Vietnam War
Con Thien, located only two miles from the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Vietnam, was a United States Marine Corps firebase that was the scene of fierce combat for months on end during 1967. Staving off attacks and ambushes while suffering from ineffectual leadership from Washington as well as media onslaughts, courageous American Marines protected this crucial piece of land at all costs. They would hold Con Thien, but many paid the ultimate price. By the end of the war, more than 1,400 Marines had died and more than 9,000 sustained injuries defending the “Hill of Angels.”
For eight months, James P. Coan’s five-tank platoon was assigned to Con Thien while attached to various Marine infantry battalions. A novice second lieutenant at the time, the author kept a diary recording the thoughts, fears, and frustrations that accompanied his life on “The Hill.” Time in the Barrel: A Marine’s Account of the Battle for Con Thien offers an authentic firsthand account of the daily nightmare that was Con Thien. An enticing and fascinating read featuring authentic depictions of combat, it allows readers to fully grasp the enormity of the fierce struggle for Con Thien.
The defenders of Con Thien were bombarded with hundreds of rounds of incoming rockets, mortars, and artillery that pounded the beleaguered outpost daily. Monsoon downpours turned the red laterite clay soil into a morass of oozing mud, flooded bunkers and trenches, and made Con Thien a living hell. .Being at Con Thien came to be ruefully referred to by the Marines stationed there as "time in the barrel” because they were targets as easy as fish in a barrel.
More than a retelling of military movements, Coan’s engrossing narratives focus on the sheer sacrifice and misery of one Marine’s experience in Vietnam. Through his eyes, we experience the abysmal conditions the Marines endured, from monsoon rainstorms to the constant threat of impending attack. Climatic moments in history are captured through the rare, personal perspective of one particularly astute and observant participant.
A personal account of Commodore Perry’s landmark expedition to Japan and life in the antebellum navy
George B. Gideon Jr. served as second assistant engineer aboard the USS Powhatan from 1852 to 1856. From his position on the steam frigate, Gideon traveled to Singapore, Labuan, Borneo, Hong Kong, and many other Asian lands. During his time at sea, Gideon penned dozens of letters to his wife, Lide, back home in Philadelphia. Recently discovered in the attic of his great-great-grandniece, were fifty-one letters penned by Gideon providing thorough and insightful commentary throughout the voyage.
Through these correspondences, Gideon laboriously documents the details of his daily life on board, from the food they ate to the technical aspects of his work, as well as observations concerning the historical events unfolding around him, such as Chinese piracy, the Taiping Rebellion, the Crimean War, and the devastation of Shimoda. To My Dearest Wife, Lide: Letters from George B. Gideon Jr. during Commodore Perry’s Expedition to Japan, 1853–1855 is a rare first-person account of the landmark American naval expedition to Japan to establish commercial relations between the two countries. Gideon’s letters have been meticulously transcribed and annotated by the editors and are an invaluable primary historical source.
Gideon’s letters are candid and revealing, delving into the rampant dysfunction in the navy of the 1850s—sickness and disease, alcohol abuse, and poor leadership, among other challenges. Gideon also unabashedly shares his own cynical views of the navy’s role in supporting American economic interests in Japan. This firsthand account of the political mission of the Perry expedition is a unique contribution to naval and military history and gives readers a better view of life aboard a navy ship.
While researching this book, Jack C. Mason made the kind of discovery that historians dream of. He found more than one hundred unpublished and unknown letters from Union general Israel B. Richardson to his family, written from his time as a West Point cadet until the day before his fatal wounding at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. Using these freshly uncovered primary sources as well as extensive research in secondary materials, Mason has written the first-ever biography of Israel Bush Richardson.
Mason traces Richardson’s growth as a soldier through his experiences and the guidance of his superiors, and then as a leader whose style reflected the actions of the former commanders he respected. Though he was a disciplinarian, Richardson took a relaxed attitude toward military rules, earning him the affection of his men. Unfortunately, his military career was cut short just as high-ranking officials began to recognize his aggressive leadership. He was mortally wounded while leading his men at Antietam and died on November 3, 1862.
Until Antietam brings to life a talented and fearless Civil War infantry leader. Richardson’s story, placed within the context of nineteenth-century warfare, exemplifies how one soldier’s life influenced his commanders, his men, and the army as a whole.
Winner of the Army Historical Foundation 2009 Distinguished Book Award
In Nazi eyes, the Soviet Union was the “wild east,” a savage region ripe for exploitation, its subhuman inhabitants destined for extermination or helotry. An especially brutal dimension of the German army’s eastern war was its anti-partisan campaign. This conflict brought death and destruction to thousands of Soviet civilians, and has been held as a prime example of ordinary German soldiers participating in the Nazi regime’s annihilation policies.
Ben Shepherd enters the heated debate over the wartime behavior of the Wehrmacht in a detailed study of the motivation and conduct of its anti-partisan campaign in the Soviet Union. He investigates how anti-partisan warfare was conducted, not by the generals, but by the far more numerous, average Germans serving as officers in the field. What shaped their behavior was more complex than Nazi ideology alone. The influence of German society, as well as of party and army, together with officers’ grueling yet diverse experience of their environment and enemy, made them perceive the anti-partisan war in varied ways. Reactions ranged from extreme brutality to relative restraint; some sought less to terrorize the native population than to try to win it over. The emerging picture does not dilute the suffering the Wehrmacht’s eastern war inflicted. It shows, however, that properly judging ordinary Germans’ role in that war is more complicated than is indicated by either wholesale condemnation or wholesale exoneration.
This valuable study offers a nuanced discussion of the diversity of behaviors within the German army, as well as providing a compelling exploration of the war and counterinsurgency operations on the eastern front.
This book is a profound reexamination of the role of the German army, the Wehrmacht, in World War II. Until very recently, the standard story avowed that the ordinary German soldier in World War II was a good soldier, distinct from Hitler's rapacious SS troops, and not an accomplice to the massacres of civilians. Wolfram Wette, a preeminent German military historian, explodes the myth of a "clean" Wehrmacht with devastating clarity.
This book reveals the Wehrmacht's long-standing prejudices against Jews, Slavs, and Bolsheviks, beliefs that predated the prophecies of Mein Kampf and the paranoia of National Socialism. Though the sixteen-million-member German army is often portrayed as a victim of Nazi mania, we come to see that from 1941 to 1944 these soldiers were thoroughly involved in the horrific cleansing of Russia and Eastern Europe. Wette compellingly documents Germany's long-term preparation of its army for a race war deemed necessary to safeguard the country's future; World War II was merely the fulfillment of these plans, on a previously unimaginable scale.
This sober indictment of millions of German soldiers reaches beyond the Wehrmacht's complicity to examine how German academics and ordinary citizens avoided confronting this difficult truth at war's end. Wette shows how atrocities against Jews and others were concealed and sanitized, and history rewritten. Only recently has the German public undertaken a reevaluation of this respected national institution--a painful but necessary process if we are to truly comprehend how the Holocaust was carried out and how we have come to understand it.
How do you convince men to charge across heavily mined beaches into deadly machine-gun fire? Do you appeal to their bonds with their fellow soldiers, their patriotism, their desire to end tyranny and mass murder? Certainly—but if you’re the US Army in 1944, you also try another tack: you dangle the lure of beautiful French women, waiting just on the other side of the wire, ready to reward their liberators in oh so many ways.
That’s not the picture of the Greatest Generation that we’ve been given, but it’s the one Mary Louise Roberts paints to devastating effect in What Soldiers Do. Drawing on an incredible range of sources, including news reports, propaganda and training materials, official planning documents, wartime diaries, and memoirs, Roberts tells the fascinating and troubling story of how the US military command systematically spread—and then exploited—the myth of French women as sexually experienced and available. The resulting chaos—ranging from flagrant public sex with prostitutes to outright rape and rampant venereal disease—horrified the war-weary and demoralized French population. The sexual predation, and the blithe response of the American military leadership, also caused serious friction between the two nations just as they were attempting to settle questions of long-term control over the liberated territories and the restoration of French sovereignty.
While never denying the achievement of D-Day, or the bravery of the soldiers who took part, What Soldiers Do reminds us that history is always more useful—and more interesting—when it is most honest, and when it goes beyond the burnished beauty of nostalgia to grapple with the real lives and real mistakes of the people who lived it.