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History > Military History > Biographies and Memoirs

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Dogface Soldier Cover

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Dogface Soldier

The Life of General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.

Wilson A. Heefner

On July 11, 1943, General Lucian Truscott received the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, for valor in action in Sicily. During his career he also received the Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart. Truscott was one of the most significant of all U.S. Army generals in World War II, pioneering new combat training methods—including the famous “Truscott Trot”— and excelling as a combat commander, turning the Third Infantry Division into one of the finest divisions in the U.S. Army. He was instrumental in winning many of the most important battles of the war, participating in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, and southern France. Truscott was not only respected by his peers and “dogfaces”—common soldiers—alike but also ranked by President Eisenhower as second only to Patton, whose command he took over on October 8, 1945, and led until April 1946.

 

            Yet no definitive history of his life has been compiled. Wilson Heefner corrects that with the first authoritative biography of this distinguished American military leader. Heefner has undertaken impressive research in primary sources—as well as interviews with family members and former associates—to shed new light on this overlooked hero. He presents Truscott as a soldier who was shaped by his upbringing, civilian and military education, family life, friendships, and evolving experiences as a commander both in and out of combat.

 

Heefner’s brisk narrative explores Truscott’s career through his three decades in the Army and defines his roles in key operations. It also examines Truscott’s postwar role as military governor of Bavaria, particularly in improving living conditions for Jewish displaced persons, removing Nazis from civil government, and assisting in the trials of German war criminals. And it offers the first comprehensive examination of his subsequent career in the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as senior CIA representative in West Germany during the early days of the Cold War, and later as CIA Director Allen Dulles’s deputy director for coordination in Washington.

 

Dogface Soldier is a portrait of a man who earned a reputation for being honest, forthright, fearless, and aggressive, both as a military officer and in his personal life—a man who, at the dedication ceremony for the Anzio-Nettuno American cemetery in 1945, turned away from the crowd and to the thousands of crosses stretching before him to address those buried there. Heefner has written a definitive biography of a great soldier and patriot.

Donut Dolly Cover

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Donut Dolly

An American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam

Joann Puffer Kotcher

Donut Dolly puts you in the Vietnam War face down in the dirt under a sniper attack, inside a helicopter being struck by lightning, at dinner next to a commanding general, and slogging through the mud along a line of foxholes. You see the war through the eyes of one of the first women officially allowed in the combat zone. When Joann Puffer Kotcher left for Vietnam in 1966, she was fresh out of the University of Michigan with a year of teaching, and a year as an American Red Cross Donut Dolly in Korea. All she wanted was to go someplace exciting. In Vietnam, she visited troops from the Central Highlands to the Mekong Delta, from the South China Sea to the Cambodian border. At four duty stations, she set up recreation centers and made mobile visits wherever commanders requested. That included Special Forces Teams in remote combat zone jungles. She brought reminders of home, thoughts of a sister or the girl next door. Officers asked her to take risks because they believed her visits to the front lines were important to the men. Every Vietnam veteran who meets her thinks of her as a brother-at-arms. Donut Dolly is Kotcher’s personal view of the war, recorded in a journal kept during her tour, day by day as she experienced it. It is a faithful representation of the twists and turns of the turbulent, controversial time. While in Vietnam, Kotcher was once abducted; dodged an ambush in the Delta; talked with a true war hero in a hospital who had charged a machine gun; and had a conversation with a prostitute. A rare account of an American Red Cross volunteer in Vietnam, Donut Dolly will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War, to those who have interest in the military, and to women aspiring to go beyond the ordinary.

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Double Duty in the Civil War

The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon

Edited by George S. Burkhardt

Editor George Burkhardt has brought together letters and diary entries of Edward W. Bacon, a Union sailor and soldier who served as a captain’s clerk in the navy and as a captain in the 29th Connecticut Infantry (Colored). The correspondence gives a unique view of ship and camp life and makes evident the close-knit family life Bacon enjoyed, particularly with his father, Leonard Bacon, a prominent minister who spoke against slavery.

Escape from Archangel Cover

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Escape from Archangel

An American Merchant Seaman at War

Thomas E. Simmons

During World War II, merchant marine tankers in convoys plied the frozen North Atlantic through the flaming wreckage of torpedoed ships. Working to keep sea lanes open, valiant merchant seamen supplied food, fuel, and goods to the Allies in the last pockets of European resistance to the Nazis.

This exciting book acknowledges that the merchant marines, all volunteers, are among the unsung heroes of the war. One of these was Jac Smith, an ordinary seamen on the Cedar Creek, a new civilian tanker lend-leased to the U.S.S.R. and in the merchantman convoy running from Scotland to Murmansk. Smith's riveting adventures at sea and in the frozen taigas and tundra are a story of valor that underlines the essential role of merchant marines in the war against the Axis powers.

This gripping narrative tells of a cruel blow that fate dealt Smith when, after volunteering to serve on the tanker headed for Murmansk, he was arrested and interned in a Soviet work camp near Arkhangelsk.

Escape from Archangel recounts how this American happened to be imprisoned in an Allied country and how he planned and managed his escape. In his arduous 900-mile trek to freedom, he encountered the remarkable Laplanders of the far north and brave Norwegian resistance fighters. While telling this astonishing story of Jac Smith and of the awesome dangers merchant seamen endured while keeping commerce alive on the seascape of war, Escape from Archangel brings long-deserved attention to the role of the merchant marine and their sacrifices during wartime.

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Escape from Hitler's Europe

An American Airman behind Enemy Lines

George Watt

"A hell of an adventure story." -- Ring Lardner Jr. "A story of what is best in human beings triumphing over what is worst." -- John Sayles November 1943: American flyer George Watt parachutes out of his burning warplane and lands in rural Nazi-occupied Belgium. Escape from Hitler's Europe is the incredible story of his getaway -- how brave villagers spirited him to Brussels to connect with the Comet Line, a rescue arm of the Belgian resistance. This was a gravely dangerous mission, especially for a Jewish soldier who had fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Watt recounts dodging the Gestapo, entering Paris via the underground, and finally, crossing the treacherous Pyrenees into Spain. In 1985, he returned to Belgium and discovered an astonishing postscript to his wartime experiences.

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Every Day a Nightmare

American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java, 1941-1942

William H. Bartsch; Foreword by Anthony Weller

In December 1941, the War Department sent two transports and a freighter carrying 103 P-40 fighters and their pilots to the Philipines to bolster Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Far East Air Force. They were then diverted to Australia, with new orders to ferry the P-40s to the Philippines from Australia through the Dutch East Indies. But on the same day as the second transport reached its destination on January 12, 1942, the first of the key refueling stops in the East Indies fell to rapidly advancing Japanese forces, resulting in a break in their ferry route and another change in their orders.   This time the pilots would fly their aircraft to Java to participate in the desperate Allied defense of that ultimate Japanese objective. Except for the pilots from the Philippines, almost all of the other pilots eventually assigned to the five provisional pursuit squadrons ordered to Java were recent graduates of flying school with just a few hours on the P-40. Only forty-three of them made it to their assigned destination; the rest suffered accidents in Australia, were shot down over Bali and Darwin, or were lost in the sinking of the USS Langley as it carried thirty-two of them to Java. Even those who did reach the secret field on Java wondered if they had been sacrificed for no purpose. As the Japanese air assault intensified daily, the Allied defense collapsed. Only eleven Japanese aircraft fell to the P-40s.   Author William H. Bartsch has pored through personal diaries and memoirs of the participants, cross-checking these primary sources against Japanese aerial combat records of the period and supplementing them with official records and other American, Dutch, and Australian accounts. Bartsch’s thorough and meticulous research yields a narrative that situates the Java pursuit pilots’ experiences within the context of the overall strategic situation in the early days of the Pacific theater.  

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Exposing the Third Reich

Colonel Truman Smith in Hitler's Germany

Henry G. Gole. foreword by Edward M. Coffman

As World War II recedes from living memory, there remain untold stories of important behind-the-scenes operatives who provided vital support to the leaders celebrated in historical accounts. Colonel Truman Smith is one of the most compelling figures from this period, but there has never been a biography of this important and controversial man. In Exposing the Third Reich, Henry G. Gole tells this soldier's story for the first time.

An American aristocrat from a prominent New England family, Smith was first assigned to Germany in 1919 during the Allied occupation and soon became known as a regional expert. During his second assignment in the country as a military attach? in 1935, he arranged for his good friend Charles Lindbergh to inspect the Luftwaffe. The Germans were delighted to have the famous aviator view their planes, enabling Smith to gather key intelligence about their air capability. His savvy cultivation of relationships rendered him invaluable throughout his service, particularly as an aide to General George C. Marshall; however, the colonel's friendliness with Germany also aroused suspicion that he was a Nazi sympathizer.

Gole demonstrates that, far from condoning Hitler, Smith was among the first to raise the alarm: he predicted many of the Nazis' moves years in advance and feared that the international community would not act quickly enough. Featuring many firsthand observations of the critical changes in Germany between the world wars, this biography presents an indispensable look both at a fascinating figure and at the nuances of the interwar years.

Fighting Fascism in Europe Cover

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Fighting Fascism in Europe

The World War II Letters of an American Veteran of the Spanish Civil War

David Cane

On his first day in basic training in 1942, Lawrence Cane wrote his wife Grace from Fort Dix, New Jersey. I'm in the army now?really!he wrote, complaining, I don't have enough time to write a decent letter.Three years later, Capt. Lawrence Cane went home from World War II. He'd landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, helped liberate France and Belgium, and survived the Battle of the Bulge. He won a Silver Star for bravery. And he still managed to write 300 letters home to Grace. This book is a different kind of war story--both an powerful chronicle of life in battle and a unique portrait of courage fueled by a life-long passion for political justice.Cane's fight for freedom began well before D-Day. In 1937, joined the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and got wounded fighting for democracy in Spain. In 1942, at age 30, he enlisted in the new war against fascism, and as an officer with the 238th Combat Engineer Battalion, went ashore in Normandy to clear mines, destroy fortifications, and open roads from Normandy to the Siegfried Line. Of the 400 Spanish Civil War veterans in World War II, Cane was the only one to go ashore on D-Day.After the war, Lawrence Cane fought for civil rights and peace until his death in 1976. Discovered in 1995 by Cane's son David, his letters are not only classic accounts of war and unforgettable expressions of love for family. They are the fiercely patriotic words of a left-wing, working-class New York Jew (and one-time Communist Party member) who knew exactly why we fought---to create a better world by destroying all forms of fascism, one battle at a time.With a fascinating introduction by David Cane, detailed notes, and much additional material, these letters add a new dimension to the meaning of American patriotism and an invaluable chapter to the history of the greatest generation.

The General and His Daughter Cover

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The General and His Daughter

The War Time Letters of General James M. Gavin to his Daughter Barbara

Barbara Fauntleroy

James Maurice Gavin left for war in April 1943 as a colonel commanding the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division-America's first airborne division and the first to fight in World War II. In 1944, Slim JimGavin, as he was known to his troops, at the age of thirty-seven became the 82nd's commanding general-the youngest Army officer to become a major general since the Civil War. At war's end, this soldier's soldier had become one of our greatest generals-and the 82nd's most decorated officer.Now James Gavin's letters home to his nine-year-old daughter Barbara provide a revealing portrait of the American experience in World War II through the eyes of one of its most dynamic officers. Written from ship decks, foxholes, and field tents-often just before or after a dangerous jump-they capture the day-to-day realities of combat and Gavin's personal reactions to the war he helped to win. And provide an invaluable self-portrait of a great general, and a great American, in war and peace.The book's more than 200 letters begin at Fort Bragg in 1943 and continue to December 1945, as Gavin came home to lead the 82nd at the head of the Victory parade in New York. This correspondence constitutes the majority of Gavin's private wartime letters, but except for rare appearances in regimental newsletters, it has never before been published. In her Introduction, Epilogue, and Notes, Barbara Gavin Fauntleroy gives a privileged glimpse of the private man. Edited by Gayle Wurst, the book features historical overviews by Starlyn Jorgensen, a preface by noted Gavin biographer Gerard M. Devlin, and a foreword by Rufus Broadaway, Gavin's aide-de-camp.

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General Thomas Posey

son of the American Revolution

John T. Posey

Revolutionary War general Thomas Posey (1750-1818) lived his life against the backdrop of one of the most dramatic periods in American history. Posey, who played a minor role in the actual War for Independence, went on to participate in the development and foundation of several states in the transappalachian West. His experiences on the late 18th- and early 19th-century American frontier were varied and in a certain sense extraordinary; he served as Indian agent in Illinois Territory; as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, as U.S. Senator from Louisiana, and as Governor of Indiana during its transition from territorial status to statehood. 
     His biographer speculates on the contrasting influences of Thomas's ne'er-do-well father, Captain John Posey, and the family's close friend, General George Washington. Posey's progress is then followed as he raises his own family in the newly formed nation. Of particular interest is an appendix containing a detailed analysis of evidence available to support popular 29th-century speculation that Thomas Posey was, in fact, George Washington's illicit son.
 

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