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Homer Lea

American Soldier of Fortune

Lawrence Kaplan

As a five-feet-three-inch hunchback who weighed about 100 pounds, Homer Lea (1876–1912), was an unlikely candidate for life on the battlefield, yet he became a world-renowned military hero. In the Dragon’s Lair: The Exploits of Homer Lea paints a revealing portrait of a diminutive yet determined man who never earned his valor on the field of battle, but left an indelible mark on his times. Lawrence M. Kaplan draws from extensive research to illuminate the life of a “man of mystery,” while also yielding a clearer understanding of the early twentieth-century Chinese underground reform and revolutionary movements. Lea’s career began in the inner circles of a powerful Chinese movement in San Francisco that led him to a generalship during the Boxer Rebellion. Fixated with commanding his own Chinese army, Lea’s inflated aspirations were almost always dashed by reality. Although he never achieved the leadership role for which he strived, he became a trusted advisor to revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen during the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Manchu Dynasty. As an author, Lea garnered fame for two books on geopolitics: The Valor of Ignorance, which examined weaknesses in the American defenses and included dire warnings of an impending Japanese-American war, and The Day of the Saxon, which predicted the decline of the British Empire. More than a character study, In the Dragon’s Lair provides insight into the establishment and execution of underground reform and revolutionary movements within U.S. immigrant communities and in southern China, as well as early twentieth-century geopolitical thought.

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I Always Wanted to Fly

America's Cold War Airmen

Until now, no book has covered all of Cold War air combat in the words of the men who waged it. In I Always Wanted to Fly, retired United States Air Force Colonel Wolfgang W. E. Samuel has gathered first-person memories from heroes of the cockpits and airstrips. Battling in dogfights when jets were novelties, saving lives in grueling airlifts, or flying dangerous reconnaissance missions deep into Soviet and Chinese airspace, these flyers waged America's longest and most secretively conducted air war. Many of the pilots Samuel interviewed invoke the same sentiment when asked why they risked their lives in the air--"I always wanted to fly." While young, they were inspired by barnstormers, by World War I fighter legends, by the legendary Charles Lindbergh, and often just by seeing airplanes flying overhead. With the advent of World War II, many of these dreamers found themselves in cockpits soon after high school. Of those who survived World War II, many chose to continue following their dream, flying the Berlin Airlift, stopping the North Korean army during the "forgotten war" in Korea, and fighting in the Vietnam War. Told in personal narratives and reminiscences, I Always Wanted to Fly renders views from pilots' seats and flight decks during every air combat flashpoint from 1945--1968. Drawn from long exposure to the immense stress of warfare, the stories these warriors share are both heroic and historic. The author, a veteran of many secret reconnaissance missions, evokes individuals and scenes with authority and grace. He provides clear, concise historical context for each airman's memories. In I Always Wanted to Fly he has produced both a thrilling and inspirational acknowledgment of personal heroism and a valuable addition to our documentation of the Cold War. Wolfgang W. E. Samuel, the author of German Boy: A Refugee's Story (University Press of Mississippi) and a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC in 1960, served in the U.S. Air Force until his retirement as a colonel in 1985. Ken Hechler is the author of The Bridge at Remagen.

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I Cannot Forget

Imprisoned in Korea, Accused at Home

Judith Fenner Gentry

Eighteen-year-old Johnny Moore was an energetic, self-confident private first class when he entered combat with a heavy-weapons platoon in Korea. Four and a half months later, after surviving heavy attacks on the Pusan Perimeter and in one of the forward units of the western column advancing on the Yalu River, he was captured by the Chinese infantry.

Moore and other American POWs suffered from starvation rations, bitter cold, and mental torment. Although the intense Chinese efforts to change the prisoners’ ideologies were largely unsuccessful, they were very effective in engendering distrust among the prisoners and abandonment of duty by the officers. Encouraged by an American sergeant, Moore worked with his captors to obtain better sanitation, a fairer distribution of food, and, on two occasions, medicine for the sick. Twice he tried to escape from imprisonment. Just four days after his twenty-first birthday, in 1953, the Chinese released him.

Moore cooperated fully with US military interrogators, giving as much information as he could on the prison camp and the methods his captors had used. But two years later, army officers arrested him at his home and charged him with treason. Although the charge was dropped and a Field Board of Inquiry returned him to regular duty, the army’s treatment of him left Moore further traumatized. He eventually went AWOL and turned to drinking, gambling, and other self-destructive behaviors.

Military historian Judith Fenner Gentry has worked with Moore’s memoirs of his experiences during and after the war to corroborate, clarify, elaborate, and situate his story within the larger events in Korea and in the Cold War. She has consulted records from courts-martial, newspaper interviews with returning POWs, and Freedom of Information Act documents on the Army Criminal Investigation Division and the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps.

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Impact Zone

The Battle of the DMZ In Vietnam, 1967-1968

A Vietnam War combat memoir from the perspective of an artilleryman.

Impact Zone documents Marine First Lieutenant James S. Brown's intense battle experiences, including those at Khe Sanh and Con Thien, throughout his thirteen months of service on the DMZ during 1967-68. This high-action account also reflects Brown's growing belief that the Vietnam War was mis-fought due to the unproductive political leadership of President Johnson and his administration. Brown's naiveté developed into hardening skepticism and cynicism as he faced the harsh realities of war, though he still managed to retain a sense of honor, pride, and patriotism for his country.

Impact Zone is a distinctive book on the Vietnam War because it is told from the perspective of an artilleryman, and the increasingly dangerous events gain momentum as they progress from one adventure to the next. Impact Zone is not only an important historical document of the Vietnam conflict, but also a moving record of the personal and emotional costs of war.


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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.

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Inside Reagan's Navy

The Pentagon Journals

Chase Untermeyer

While serving as an assistant to Vice Pres. George H. W. Bush, Chase Untermeyer concluded that the only way to learn how the US government really works was to leave the silken cocoon of the White House and seek a position in one of the departments or agencies.

In March 1983, when offered an appointment as a deputy assistant secretary of the navy, he jumped at the opportunity. After only a year as a “DASN,” he was named by Pres. Ronald Reagan as assistant secretary for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, in charge of all personnel issues affecting nearly one million sailors and Marines and a third of a million civilian workers.

Inside Reagan’s Navy offers an engaging, up-close narrative of Untermeyer’s experiences in the Pentagon, interwoven with descriptions of events and people, humorous anecdotes, and telling quotations.
As in his earlier book, When Things Went Right: The Dawn of the Reagan-Bush Administration, Inside Reagan’s Navy paints a portrait of official Washington during the Reagan years, with its politics, parties, and personalities.

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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.

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Jacob L. Devers

A General's Life

James Scott Wheeler. foreword by Rick Atkinson

General Jacob L. "Jake" Devers (1897--1979) was one of only two officers -- the other was Omar C. Bradley -- to command an army group during the decisive campaigns of 1944--1945 that liberated Europe and ended the war with Nazi Germany. After the war, Devers led the Army Ground Forces in the United States and eventually retired in 1949 after forty years of service. Despite incredible successes on the battlefield, General George C. Marshall's "dependable man" remains one of the most underrated and overlooked figures of his generation.

In this definitive biography, James Scott Wheeler delivers a groundbreaking reassessment of the American commander whose contributions to victory in Europe are topped only by General Dwight D. Eisenhower's. Wheeler's exhaustively researched chronicle of Devers's life and career reveals a leader who demonstrated an extraordinary ability to cut through red tape and solve complex problems. Nevertheless, Eisenhower disliked Devers -- a fact laid bare when he ordered Devers's Sixth Army Group to halt at the Rhine. After the war, Eisenhower's and Bradley's accounts of the generals' disagreements over strategy and tactics became received wisdom, to the detriment of Devers's reputation.

An essential contribution to twentieth-century history, Jacob L. Devers provides a fresh and nuanced interpretation of the senior command during World War II and offers a new perspective on a highly accomplished soldier.

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John Warden and the Renaissance of American Air Power


Dr. John Andreas Olsen has written an insightful, compelling biography of retired U.S. Air Force colonel John A. Warden III, the brilliant but controversial air warfare theorist and architect of Operation Desert Storm’s air campaign. Warden’s radical ideas about air power’s purposes and applications, promulgated at the expense of his own career, sparked the ongoing revolution in military affairs. Legendary in defense circles, Warden is also the author of The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat (republished by Brassey’s, Inc. in 1989). Presenting both the positives and negatives of Warden’s personality and impact in this objective portrait, Olsen offers a trenchant analysis of his revolutionary ideas and great accomplishments.

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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.


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