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In Hostile Skies Cover

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In Hostile Skies

An American B-24 Pilot in World War II

James M. Davis, and edited by David L. Snead

James “Jim” Davis lived what he considered “an impossible dream” as he piloted a B-24, as part of the 8th Air Force, on nearly thirty missions in the European Theatre during World War II. In this memoir, Davis offers heart-wrenching detail concerning the difficulties of qualifying for the U.S. Army Air Forces pilot program, the strenuous nature of the pilot training program, the anxiety caused by a wartime marriage, and the dangers of flying combat missions over Nazi Germany. Few, if any, other memoirs provide the genuineness and honesty of his story. From his struggles to become a pilot, to seeing death up close on his first mission, to his expected deployment to the Pacific Theatre in the fall of 1945, Davis takes the reader through a fast-paced and exciting narrative adventure. Davis and his crew flew support missions for Operations Cobra and Market Garden and numerous bombing missions over occupied Europe in the summer and fall of 1944. He piloted his B-24 on missions over twenty German cities, including Cologne, Hamburg, Metz, and Munich, and attacked enemy airfields, airplane factories, railroad marshalling yards, ship yards, oil refineries, and chemical plants. While he and his crew survived without serious injuries, they witnessed the destruction of many of their friends’ planes and experienced serious damage to their own plane on several occasions. Readers of his memoir will come away with a much greater appreciation for the difficulties and dangers of the air war in World War II. David Snead happened upon the memoir and its author during his time at Texas Tech University. He was immediately hooked and began the process of preparing it for publication. Snead met with Davis on several occasions, examined his military records, researched in detail at the National Archives, and investigated numerous published sources in order to corroborate the account and add explanatory notes for context.

Jack Toffey's War Cover

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Jack Toffey's War

A Son's Memoir

John Toffey

I see this book as the story my father never got to tell,John Toffey writes. And what a remarkable story it is that Lt. Col. Jack Toffey never got to tell.In this moving account of a young man's journey to know a father who went to war in 1942 and never came back, John Toffey weaves memory, history, and his father's vivid letters home into a fascinating tale of a family, a war, and the threads that connect them.John Toffey was nine when his father's National Guard outfit was mobilized. For two years Toffey, his mother, and his sister moved from post to post before his dad shipped out-to North Africa, fighting the Vichy French in Morocco, then the Germans in Tunisia, where he was wounded. In July 1943 he went back to war, leading an infantry battalion in the invasions of Sicily and southern Italy. In January 1944 he landed his battalion at Anzio and was wounded again. After a long, bitter stalemate, Toffey's regiment led Mark Clark's push on Rome. On June 3, 1944, Jack Toffey was killed in the hill town of Palestrina, one day before the Allies marched intoRome. In a brutal campaign, Jack Toffey had commanded a combat battalion longer than any other officer in the Mediterranean theater.Only in 1996, when his father's letters were discovered, did John Toffey begin to piece together what happened to his father. And he tells this contested story of Allied success and failure with drama, steely reserve, and balance, adding an invaluable perspective to the portrait of Jack Toffey created by Rick Atkinson in his bestselling Day of Battle. This book is also a lovingly crafted portrait of home front Ohio, and how a young boy, his sister, and his mother waited out their war, scanning newspapers and magazines for news of Dad and devouring letters full of easy humor and expressions of love for and pride in his family and dreams of a good life after the war.

A Just and Righteous Cause Cover

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A Just and Righteous Cause

Benjamin H. Grierson's Civil War Memoir

Edited by Bruce J. Dinges and Shirley A. Leckie

General Benjamin H. Grierson is most widely known as the brilliant cavalryman whose actions in the Civil War's Mississippi Valley campaign facilitated Ulysses S. Grant's capture of Vicksburg. There is, however, much more to this key Union officer than a successful raid into Confederate-held Mississippi. In A Just and Righteous Cause: Benjamin H. Grierson's Civil War Memoir, edited by Bruce J. Dinges and Shirley A. Leckie, Grierson tells his story in forceful, direct, and highly engaging prose.

A Just and Righteous Cause paints a vivid picture of Grierson's prewar and Civil War career, touching on his antislavery views, Republican Party principles, and military strategy and tactics. His story begins with his parents' immigration to the United States and follows his childhood, youth, and career as a musician; the early years of his arriage; his business failures prior to becoming a cavalry officer in an Illinois regiment; his experiences in battle; and his Reconstruction appointment. Grierson also provides intimate accounts of his relationships with such prominent politicians and Union leaders as Abraham Lincoln, Richard Yates, Andrew Johnson, William T. Sherman, Ulysses S.

Grant, John C. Frémont, and Benjamin Prentiss.

Because Grierson wrote the memoir mainly with his family as the intended audience, he manages to avoid the self-promotion that plagues many of his contemporaries' chronicles. His reliance on military records and correspondence, along with family letters, lends an immediacy rarely found in military memoirs. His reminiscences also add fuel to a reemerging debate on soldiers' motivations for enlisting—in Grierson's case, patriotism and ideology—and shed new light on the Western theater of the Civil War, which has seen a recent surge in interest among Civil War enthusiasts.

A non-West Point officer, Grierson owed his developing career to his independent studies of the military and his connections to political figures in his home state of Illinois and later to important Union leaders. Dinges and Leckie provide a helpful introduction, which gives background on the memoir and places Grierson's career into historical context. Aided by fourteen photos and two maps, as well as the editors' superb annotations, A Just and Righteous Cause is a valuable addition to Civil War history.

 

Kentucky Marine Cover

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Kentucky Marine

Major General Logan Feland and the Making of the Modern USMC

David J. Bettez

A native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Major General Logan Feland (1869--1936) played a major role in the development of the modern Marine Corps. Highly decorated for his heroic actions during the battle of Belleau Wood in World War I, Feland led the hunt for rebel leader Augusto C�sar Sandino during the Nicaraguan revolution from 1927 to 1929 -- an operation that helped to establish the Marines' reputation in guerrilla warfare and search-and-capture missions. Yet, despite rising to become one of the USMC's most highly ranked and regarded officers, Feland has been largely ignored in the historical record.

In Kentucky Marine, David J. Bettez uncovers the forgotten story of this influential soldier of the sea. During Feland's tenure as an officer, the Corps expanded exponentially in power and prestige. Not only did his command in Nicaragua set the stage for similar twenty-first-century operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Feland was one of the first instructors in the USMC's Advanced Base Force, which served as the forerunner of the amphibious assault force mission the Marines adopted in World War II.

Kentucky Marine also illuminates Feland's private life, including his marriage to successful soprano singer and socialite Katherine Cordner Feland, and details his disappointment at being twice passed over for the position of commandant. Drawing from personal letters, contemporary news articles, official communications, and confidential correspondence, this long-overdue biography fills a significant gap in twentieth-century American military history.

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The Last Deployment

How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq

Bronson Lemer

In 2003, after serving five and a half years as a carpenter in a North Dakota National Guard engineer unit, Bronson Lemer was ready to leave the military behind. But six months short of completing his commitment to the army, Lemer was deployed on a yearlong tour of duty to Iraq. Leaving college life behind in the Midwest, he yearns for a lost love and quietly dreams of a future as an openly gay man outside the military. He discovers that his father’s lifelong example of silent strength has taught him much about being a man, and these lessons help him survive in a war zone and to conceal his sexuality, as he is required to do by the U.S. military.

            The Last Deployment is a moving, provocative chronicle of one soldier’s struggle to reconcile military brotherhood with self-acceptance. Lemer captures the absurd nuances of a soldier’s daily life: growing a mustache to disguise his fear, wearing pantyhose to battle sand fleas, and exchanging barbs with Iraqis while driving through Baghdad. But most strikingly, he describes the poignant reality faced by gay servicemen and servicewomen, who must mask their identities while serving a country that disowns them. Often funny, sometimes anguished, The Last Deployment paints a deeply personal portrait of war in the twenty-first century.
 
A main selection of the InsightOut Book Club
 
Featured Title of Book of the Month Club 2
 

Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant Cover

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Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant

William Garrett Piston

In the South, one can find any number of bronze monuments to the Confederacy featuring heroic images of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J. E. B. Stuart, and many lesser commanders. But while the tarnish on such statues has done nothing to color the reputation of those great leaders, there remains one Confederate commander whose tarnished image has nothing to do with bronze monuments. Nowhere in the South does a memorial stand to Lee's intimate friend and second-in-command James Longstreet.

In Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant, William Garrett Piston examines the life of James Longstreet and explains how a man so revered during the course of the war could fall from grace so swiftly and completely. Unlike other generals in gray whose deeds are familiar to southerners and northerners alike, Longstreet has the image not of a hero but of an incompetent who lost the Battle of Gettysburg and, by extension, the war itself. Piston's reappraisal of the general's military record establishes Longstreet as an energetic corps commander with an unsurpassed ability to direct troops in combat, as a trustworthy subordinate willing to place the war effort above personal ambition. He made mistakes, but Piston shows that he did not commit the grave errors at Gettysburg and elsewhere of which he was so often accused after the war.

In discussing Longstreet's postwar fate, Piston analyzes the literature and public events of the time to show how the southern people, in reaction to defeat, evolved an image of themselves which bore little resemblance to reality. As a product of the Georgia backwoods, Longstreet failed to meet the popular cavalier image embodied by Lee, Stuart, and other Confederate heroes. When he joined the Republican party during Reconstruction, Longstreet forfeited his wartime reputation and quickly became a convenient target for those anxious to explain how a "superior people" could have lost the war. His new role as the villain of the Lost Cause was solidified by his own postwar writings. Embittered by years of social ostracism resulting from his Republican affiliation, resentful of the orchestrated deification of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet exaggerated his own accomplishments and displayed a vanity that further alienated an already offended southern populace.

Beneath the layers of invective and vilification remains a general whose military record has been badly maligned. Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant explains how this reputation developed--how James Longstreet became, in the years after Appomattox, the scapegoat for the South's defeat, a Judas for the new religion of the Lost Cause.

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Life and Death in the Central Highlands

An American Sergeant in the Vietnam War, 1968-1970

James T. Gillam

In 1968 James T. Gillam was a poorly focused college student at Ohio University who was dismissed and then drafted into the Army. Unlike most African Americans who entered the Army then, he became a Sergeant and an instructor at the Fort McClellan Alabama School of Infantry. In September 1968 he joined the First Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Within a month he transformed from an uncertain sergeant—who tried to avoid combat—to an aggressive soldier, killing his first enemy and planning and executing successful ambushes in the jungle. Gillam was a regular point man and occasional tunnel rat who fought below ground, an arena that few people knew about until after the war ended. By January 1970 he had earned a Combat Infantry Badge and been promoted to Staff Sergeant. Then Washington’s politics and military strategy took his battalion to the border of Cambodia. Search-and-destroy missions became longer and deadlier. From January to May his unit hunted and killed the enemy in a series of intense firefights, some of them in close combat. In those months Gillam was shot twice and struck by shrapnel twice. He became a savage, strangling a soldier in hand-to-hand combat inside a lightless tunnel. As his mid-summer date to return home approached, Gillam became fiercely determined to come home alive. The ultimate test of that determination came during the Cambodian invasion. On his last night in Cambodia, the enemy got inside the wire of the firebase, and the killing became close range and brutal. Gillam left the Army in June 1970, and within two weeks of his last encounter with death, he was once again a college student and destined to become a university professor. The nightmares and guilt about killing are gone, and so is the callous on his soul. Life and Death in the Central Highlands is a gripping, personal account of one soldier’s war in Vietnam.

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Life and Letters of Gen W. H. L. Wallace

Isabel Wallace. Foreword by John Y. Simon

Originally published in 1909, this biography by Isabel Wallace recounts the life of her adoptive father, the little-recognized William Hervy Lamme Wallace, the highest-ranking Union officer to fall at the battle of Shiloh.

 

Born in 1821 in Ohio, Wallace and his family moved to Illinois in 1834, where he was educated at Rock Springs Seminary in Mount Morris. On his way to study law with Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in 1844, Wallace was persuaded by local attorney T. Lyle Dickey, a close friend of Lincoln, to join his practice in Ottawa instead. Wallace eventually married Dickey’s daughter, Martha Ann, in 1851.

 

When the Civil War broke out, both Wallace and Dickey immediately volunteered for service with the Eleventh Illinois, which assembled in Springfield. Wallace was elected as the unit’s colonel; a successful lawyer, a friend of President Lincoln, a generation older than most privates, and an officer with Mexican War experience, he was entirely suited for such command. Wallace was appointed brigadier general for his performance at Fort Donelson, the first notable Union victory in the Civil War. Wallace’s troops had saved the day, although the Eleventh Illinois had lost nearly two-thirds of its men. He then moved with his troops to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, where Confederates launched a surprise attack on the forces of Major General Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh Church on Sunday, April 6, 1862. Wallace, who held only temporary command of one of Grant’s six divisions, fought bravely but was mortally wounded as he began to withdraw his men on the afternoon of the battle. His wife, who had arrived at Pittsburg Landing by steamer on the day of the battle, was at his side when he died three days later. Grant praised Wallace in 1868 as “the equal of the best, if not the very best, of the Volunteer Generals with me at the date of his death.”

 

Isabel Wallace traces her father’s life from his upbringing in Ottawa through his education, his service in the Mexican War, his law practice, his courtship of and marriage to her mother, and his service in the Eleventh Illinois until his mortal injury at Shiloh. She also details his funeral and her and her mother’s life in the postwar years. Based on the copious letters and family papers of the general and his wife, the biography also provides historical information on federal politics of the period, including commentary on Lincoln’s campaign and election and on state politics, especially regarding T. Lyle Dickey, Wallace’s father-in-law and law partner, prominent Illinois politician, and associate of Lincoln. It is illustrated with fifteen black-and-white halftones.

The Longest Rescue Cover

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The Longest Rescue

The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson

Glenn Robins. foreword by Colonel Bud Day

While serving as a crew chief aboard a U.S. Air Force Rescue helicopter, Airman First Class William A. Robinson was shot down and captured in Ha Tinh Province, North Vietnam, on September 20, 1965. After a brief stint at the "Hanoi Hilton," Robinson endured 2,703 days in multiple North Vietnamese prison camps, including the notorious Briarpatch and various compounds at Cu Loc, known by the inmates as the Zoo. No enlisted man in American military history has been held as a prisoner of war longer than Robinson. For seven and a half years, he faced daily privations and endured the full range of North Vietnam's torture program.

In The Longest Rescue: The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson, Glenn Robins tells Robinson's story using an array of sources, including declassified U.S. military documents, translated Vietnamese documents, and interviews from the National Prisoner of War Museum. Unlike many other POW accounts, this comprehensive biography explores Robinson's life before and after his capture, particularly his estranged relationship with his father, enabling a better understanding of the difficult transition POWs face upon returning home and the toll exacted on their families. Robins's powerful narrative not only demonstrates how Robinson and his fellow prisoners embodied the dedication and sacrifice of America's enlisted men but also explores their place in history and memory.

Lost Eagles Cover

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Lost Eagles

One Man's Mission to Find Missing Airmen in Two World Wars

Blaine Pardoe

Praise for Lost Eagles "The pilot and observer stories selected have not previously seen much exposure. Not only are they interesting, but I found myself relishing getting to the next chapter to find out what Frederick Zinn was doing during the next stage of his life." ---Alan Roesler, founding member, League of World War I Aviation Historians, and former Managing Editor, Over the Front Praise for Blaine Pardoe's previous military histories (which average 4.5-star customer reviews on Amazon.com): Terror of the Autumn Skies: The True Story of Frank Luke, America's Rogue Ace of World War I "This painstaking biography of World War I ace Frank Luke will earn Pardoe kudos . . . Pardoe has flown a very straight course in researching and recounting Luke's myth-ridden life. . . . Thorough annotation makes the book that much more valuable to WWI aviation scholars as well as for more casual air-combat buffs." ---Booklist The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany's Gentleman Pirate "This is a gem of a story, well told, and nicely laid out with photos, maps, and charts that cleverly illuminate the lost era of ‘gentlemen pirates' at sea . . . [German commerce raider Felix von Luckner's] legend lives on in this lively and readable biography." ---Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy, Naval History Few people have ever heard of Frederick Zinn, yet even today airmen's families are touched by this man and the work he performed in both world wars. Zinn created the techniques still in use to determine the final fate of airmen missing in action. The last line of the Air Force Creed reads, "We will leave no airman behind." Zinn made that promise possible. Blaine Pardoe weaves together the complex story of a man who brought peace and closure to countless families who lost airmen during both world wars. His lasting contribution to warfare was a combination of his methodology for locating the remains of missing pilots (known as the Zinn system) and his innovation of imprinting all aircraft parts with the same serial number so that if a wreck was located, the crewman could be identified. The tradition he established for seeking and recovering airmen is carried on to this day. Blaine Pardoe is an accomplished author who has published dozens of military fiction novels and other books, including the widely acclaimed Cubicle Warfare: Self-Defense Tactics for Today's Hypercompetitive Workplace; Terror of the Autumn Skies: The True Story of Frank Luke, America's Rogue Ace of World War I; and The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany's Gentleman Pirate. Jacket photo: Frederick Zinn's Sopwith aircraft, which crashed during World War I. National Museum of the United States Air Force Archives.

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