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The Last Deployment Cover

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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.

Life and Death in the Central Highlands Cover

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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.

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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.

Louis Johnson and the Arming of America Cover

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Louis Johnson and the Arming of America

The Roosevelt and Truman Years

Keith D. McFarland and David L. Roll

"Without question this is an important new addition to World War II and Cold War historiography.... Highly recommended." -- Douglas Brinkley, author of Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years and The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey beyond the White House

"A remarkably objective, yet sympathetic, study of Louis Johnson's life and career. Now only half-remembered,... Johnson was a major national figure. Colorful, aggressive, independent-minded, egotistical, his strong views and conflicts with Dean Acheson proved to be his undoing. All in all, a fascinating tale." -- James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense

"McFarland and Roll have performed a real service in rescuing from obscurity this Democratic mover and shaker. Their account of the rise and fall of Louis Johnson provides us with the fullest depiction yet of an important Washington figure employed for better or worse as a blunt instrument of policy change by both Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman." -- Alonzo L. Hamby, author of Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman and For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s

"[Johnson's] career is a cautionary tale of how even the most ruthlessly effective men can become pawns in the Washington power game. McFarland and Roll bring Johnson to life in this thorough and well-told history." -- Evan Thomas, Newsweek, author of Robert Kennedy: His Life and The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA

Louis Johnson was FDR's Assistant Secretary of War and the architect of the industrial mobilization plans that put the nation on a war footing prior to its entry into World War II. Later, as Truman's Secretary of Defense, Johnson was given the difficult job of unifying the armed forces and carrying out Truman's orders to dramatically reduce defense expenditures. In both administrations, he was asked to confront and carry out extremely unpopular initiatives -- massive undertakings that each president believed were vital to the nation's security and economic welfare. Johnson's conflicts with Henry Morganthau, Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring, Winston Churchill, Harry Hopkins, Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, and Paul Nitze find contemporary parallels in the recent disagreements between the national defense establishment and the State Department.

MacArthur in Asia Cover

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MacArthur in Asia

The General and His Staff in the Philippines, Japan, and Korea

by Hiroshi Masuda; translated by Reiko Yamamoto

General Douglas MacArthur's storied career is inextricably linked to Asia. His father, Arthur, served as Military Governor of the Philippines while Douglas was a student at West Point, and the younger MacArthur would serve several tours of duty in that country over the next four decades, becoming friends with several influential Filipinos, including the country's future president, Emanuel L. Quezon. In 1935, he became Quezon's military advisor, a post he held after retiring from the U.S. Army and at the time of Japan's invasion of 1941. As Supreme Commander for the Southwest Pacific, MacArthur led American forces throughout the Pacific War. He officially accepted Japan's surrender in 1945 and would later oversee the Allied occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. He then led the UN Command in the Korean War from 1950 to 1951, until he was dismissed from his post by President Truman.

In MacArthur in Asia, the distinguished Japanese historian Hiroshi Masuda offers a new perspective on the American icon, focusing on his experiences in the Philippines, Japan, and Korea and highlighting the importance of the general's staff-the famous "Bataan Boys" who served alongside MacArthur throughout the Asian arc of his career-to both MacArthur's and the region's history. First published to wide acclaim in Japanese in 2009 and translated into English for the first time, this book uses a wide range of sources-American and Japanese, official records and oral histories-to present a complex view of MacArthur, one that illuminates his military decisions during the Pacific campaign and his administration of the Japanese Occupation.

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The Man Who Saved Kabuki

Faubion Bowers and Theatre Censorship in Occupied Japan

Okamoto Shiro

As part of its program to promote democracy in Japan after World War II, the American Occupation, headed by General Douglas MacArthur, undertook to enforce rigid censorship policies aimed at eliminating all traces of feudal thought in media and entertainment, including kabuki. Faubion Bowers (1917-1999), who served as personal aide and interpreter to MacArthur during the Occupation, was appalled by the censorship policies and anticipated the extinction of a great theatrical art. He used his position in the Occupation administration and his knowledge of Japanese theatre in his tireless campaign to save kabuki. Largely through Bowers's efforts, censorship of kabuki had for the most part been eliminated by the time he left Japan in 1948. Although Bowers is at the center of the story, this lively and skillfully adapted translation from the original Japanese treats a critical period in the long history of kabuki as it was affected by a single individual who had a commanding influence over it. It offers fascinating and little-known details about Occupation censorship politics and kabuki performance while providing yet another perspective on the history of an enduring Japanese art form.

MASH Cover

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MASH

An Army Surgeon in Korea

Otto Apel

" When North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, Otto Apel was a surgical resident living in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and three young children. A year later he was chief surgeon of the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital constantly near the front lines in Korea. Immediately upon arriving in camp, Apel performed 80 hours of surgery. His feet swelled so badly that he had to cut his boots off, and he saw more surgical cases in those three and a half days than he would have in a year back in Cleveland. There were also the lighter moments. When a Korean came to stay at the 8076th, word of her beauty spread so rapidly that they needed MPs just to direct traffic. Apel also recalls a North Korean aviator, nicknamed ""Bedcheck Charlie,"" who would drop a phony grenade from an open-cockpit biplane, a story later filmed for the television series. He also tells of the day the tent surrounding the women's shower was ""accidentally"" blown off by a passing helicopter. In addition to his own story, Apel details the operating conditions, workload, and patient care at the MASH units while revealing the remarkable advances made in emergency medical care. MASH units were the first hospitals designed for operations close to the front lines, and from this particularly difficult vantage, their medical staffs were responsible for innovations in the use of antibiotics and blood plasma and in arterial repair. On film and television, MASH doctors and nurses have been portrayed as irreverent and having little patience with standard military procedures. In this powerful memoir, Apel reveals just how realistic these portrayals were.

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