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World War II's Forgotten Four Star
Of the leaders of the American Army in World War II, Jacob Devers is undoubtedly the "forgotten four star." Plucked from relative obscurity in the Canal Zone, Devers was one of four generals selected by General of the Army George Marshall in 1941 to assist him in preparing the Army for war. He quickly became known in Army circles for his "can do" attitude and remarkable ability to cut through red tape. Among other duties, he was instrumental in transforming Ft. Bragg, then a small Army post, into a major training facility. As head of the armored force, Devers contributed to the development of a faster, more heavily armored tank, equipped with a higher velocity gun that could stand up to the more powerful German tanks, and helped to turn American armor into an effective fighting force. In spring 1943, Devers replaced Dwight Eisenhower as commander of the European Theater of Operations, then was given command of the 6th Army Group that invaded the south of France and fought its way through France and Germany to the Austrian border. In the European campaign to defeat Hitler, Eisenhower had three subordinate army group commanders—British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Omar S. Bradley, and Jacob Devers. The first two are well-known—here the third receives the attention he properly deserves.
Fortune and Misfortune
The career of the French general Maxime Weygand offers a fascinating glimpse into the perils and politics of military leadership and loyalty in the interwar years and after France’s defeat in 1940. Of obscure birth, Weygand had an outstanding career during WWI as chief of staff for Marshal Foch and served France after the war in Poland and Syria before returning home. Alarmed by Nazi Germany’s rearmament, Weygand locked horns with a political leadership skeptical of the growing military threat, leading to accusations that his desire for a strong army was anti-democratic. With German invaders again threatening Paris, Weygand argued for armistice rather than face certain military defeat. No friend of the newly-installed Vichy government, Weygand was soon shuffled off to North Africa, where he plotted the army’s return to the Allied cause. After the German entry into Unoccupied France, Weygand was imprisoned. Released at war’s end, he was rearrested on the orders of Charles de Gaulle and afterwards fought to restore his name. In this concise biography, Anthony Clayton traces the vertiginous changes in fortune of a soldier whose loyalty to France and to the French army was unwavering.
son of the American Revolution
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.
Preparing the Army for Modern War
From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, the United States Army was a demoralized institution in a country in the midst of a social revolution. The war in Vietnam had gone badly and public attitudes about it shifted from indifference, to acceptance, to protest. Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams directed a major reorganization of the Army and appointed William E. DePuy (1919–1992) commander of the newly established Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), in 1973. DePuy already had a distinguished record in positions of trust and high responsibility: successful infantry battalion command and division G-3 in World War II by the age of twenty-five; Assistant Military Attaché in Hungary; detail to CIA in the Korean War; alternating tours on the Army Staff and in command of troops. As a general officer he was General Westmoreland’s operations officer in Saigon; commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam; Special Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, Army. But it was as TRADOC Commander that DePuy made his major contribution in integrating training, doctrine, combat developments, and management in the U.S. Army. He regenerated a deflated post-Vietnam Army, effectively cultivating a military force prepared to fight and win in modern war. General William E. DePuy: Preparing the Army for Modern War is the first full-length biography of this key figure in the history of the U.S. Army in the twentieth century. Author Henry G. Gole mined secondary and primary sources, including DePuy’s personal papers and extensive archival material, and he interviewed peers, subordinates, family members, and close observers to describe and analyze DePuy’s unique contributions to the Army and nation. Gole guides the reader from DePuy’s boyhood and college days in South Dakota through the major events and achievements of his life. DePuy was commissioned from the ROTC six months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, witnessed poor training and leadership in a mobilizing Army, and served in the 357th Infantry Regiment in Europe—from the bloody fighting in Normandy until victory in May 1945, when DePuy was stationed in Czechoslovakia. Gole covers both major events and interesting asides: DePuy was asked by George Patton to serve as his aide; he supervised clandestine operations in China; he served in the Office of the Army Chief of Staff during the debate over "massive retaliation" vs. "flexible response"; he was instrumental in establishing Special Forces in Vietnam; he briefed President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House. DePuy fixed a broken Army. In the process his intensity and forcefulness made him a contentious figure, admired by some and feared by others. He lived long enough to see his efforts produce American victory in the Gulf War of 1991. In General William E. DePuy, Gole presents the accomplishments of this important military figure and explores how he helped shape the most potent military force in the history of the world.
Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Bradley
Formally titled "General of the Army," the five-star general is the highest possible rank awarded in the U.S. Army in modern times and has been awarded to only five men in the nation's history: George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry H. Arnold, and Omar N. Bradley. In addition to their rank, these distinguished soldiers all shared the experience of serving or studying at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where they gained the knowledge that would prepare them for command during World War II and the Korean War. In Generals of the Army, James H. Willbanks assembles top military historians to examine the connection between the institution and the success of these exceptional men. Historically known as the "intellectual center of the Army," Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active Army post west of Washington, D.C., and one of the most important military installations in the United States. Though there are many biographies of the five-star generals, this innovative study offers a fresh perspective by illuminating the ways in which these legendary figures influenced and were influenced by Leavenworth. Coinciding with the U.S. Mint's release of a series of special commemorative coins honoring these soldiers and the fort where they were based, this concise volume offers an intriguing look at the lives of these remarkable men and the contributions they made to the defense of the nation.
"Much has been written about the famous conflicts and battlegrounds of the East during the American Revolution. Perhaps less familiar, but equally important and exciting, was the war on the western frontier, where Ohio Valley settlers fought for the land they had claimed -- and for their very lives. George Rogers Clark stepped forward to organize the local militias into a united front that would defend the western frontier from Indian attacks. Clark was one of the few people who saw the importance of the West in the war effort as a whole, and he persuaded Virginia's government to lend support to his efforts. As a result Clark was able to cross the Ohio, saving that part of the frontier from further raids. Lowell Harrison captures the excitement of this vital part of American history while giving a complete view of George Rogers Clark's significant achievements. Lowell H. Harrison, is a professor emeritus of history at Western Kentucky University and is the author or co-author of numerous books, including Lincoln of Kentucky, A New History of Kentucky, and Kentucky's Governors."
Frank Mathias was born in Maysville, Kentucky, (pop. 7000) in 1925 and grew up in nearby Carlisle (pop. 1500), where life in his small town was much like that in towns and villages all across America. He came of age in an era of total security; his parents never even had a key to their front door. Daily living was infused with gossip; no one had a secret, and everyone knew everyone else's business. Outdoor life was a vital part of growing up, and teachers and mentors instilled a sense of right and wrong in young people. Raised during the Great Depression, Mathias became a member of a fighting force the likes of which the world had never known, a legion now called "The Greatest Generation." The GI Generation tells Mathias's story of growing up with the sweet whistle of the L&N train and the summer-kitchen smells of hot salt-rising bread and blackberry cobbler, which could instantly halt even the most rousing game of cowboys and Indians. Much of community life focused on the local high school, which, in Mathias's case, was a tiny one with no chemistry courses, no drivers' training, and no guidance counselors. Yet the one hundred students who graduated between 1942 and 1944 became university professors, top executives, military commanders, successful investors, lawyers, and physicians. A vivid portrait of a bucolic pre-war boyhood, The GI Generation takes readers back to an era when boys rustled watermelons under the hot summer sun and young lovers danced to the sounds of farmhouse bands. Whether describing the unfortunate (but delicious) end of his brother's pet chicken, Don, or the ominous clouds of war, Mathias writes with humor, honesty, and compassion.
Behind Enemy Lines in World War II
A member of the famed Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division, Donald J. Rich went ashore on D-Day at Utah Beach, was wounded in the bloody conflict at Carentan, landed in a flimsy plywood-and-canvas glider on the battlefields of Holland, and survived the grim siege with the “Battling Bastards of Bastogne” during the Battle of the Bulge. Ordinary Eagle is his eyewitness account of how he, along with thousands of other young men from farms, small towns, and cities across the United States, came together to answer the call of their nation. It is also a heartfelt tribute to the many thousands who gave their lives in the struggle. Coauthored by Kevin Brooks, the son of Rich’s best friend and World War II comrade, Ordinary Eagle covers a span of nearly three years: from February 1943, when Rich left his family in Wayland, Iowa, until his return home, five months after the war's end, as a toughened bazooka gunner and veteran of five campaigns. Rich’s first-person narrative includes vivid coverage of the action, featuring an especially rare account of arriving on a combat landing zone by glider. Detailed, day-to-day depiction of some of the heaviest fighting in Holland follows, including the action at Opheusden, the center of the infamous “Island.” Later highlights include the Battle of the Bulge, where Rich recounts his experiences in some of the hottest defensive fighting of the European Theater, including the epic tank battles at Marvie, Champs, and Foy.