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    Military books

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000


    On the official U.S. Army Web site, Gen. Eric A. Shinseki, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, offers a book list for those in the various ranks of the Army. Here are his suggestions for "Cadets, Soldiers, and Junior NCOs," followed by excerpts from his reviews of those books:

    BAND OF BROTHERS: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagles Nest by Stephen Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, 1992) Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, was as good a rifle company as any in the world. From their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to D-Day and victory, Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company of citizen soldiers.

    THE LONG GREY LINE by Rick Atkinson (Houghton Mifflin, 1989) The author examines the experiences of the West Point class of 1966. Atkinson shows how their individual careers epitomized the problems faced by their generation and by members of their profession.

    THE GREATEST GENERATION by Tom Brokaw (Random House, 1998) In a series of narratives the newscaster has written an exceptional book about the youth who grew up during the Great Depression. Brokaw terms them the "greatest generation" because they came of age and, through their extraordinary sacrifices, won the first truly global war.

    THIS KIND OF WAR: A Study in Unpreparedness by T. R. Fehrenbach (Brasseys, 1994) The ultimate story of a nation's lack of military preparedness. . . A book for every leader, because it exposes critical issues not yet resolved in the United States regarding how to produce a military that will continuously be on guard and ready to protect a public that wants only to live in and dream of a peaceful world.

    AMERICA'S FIRST BATTLES: 1776-1965 edited by Charles E. Heller and William A. Stoft (University Press of Kansas, 1986) The first battle in any war, argue the various authors of this book, may reveal the strengths and weaknesses of armies both winners and losers. America's First Battles examines the first major engagement of each of America's nine major wars from the Revolution through Vietnam with an eye toward the weaknesses revealed.

    225 YEARS OF SERVICE: The U.S. Army 1775-2000 by David W. Hogan, Jr. (CMH, 2000) This pamphlet gives a brief overview of how the Army has served the nation since the formation of George Washington's Continental Army on 14 June 1775. It covers not only the Army's distinguished performance in America's major conflicts but also its conduct of several other military and non-military missions throughout American history.

    THE FACE OF BATTLE by John Keegan (Vintage, 1977) The Face of Battle is a recounting of warfare as the soldier saw in three distinct eras of military history. Keegan brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of the battlefield at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme.

    WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE . . . AND YOUNG: Ia Drang: The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway (Random House. 1992) The Battle of Ia Drang, as it came to be called, marked the first clash between American troops and North Vietnamese regulars. We Were Soldiers Once. . . and Young is the story of that battle, giving a detailed account of both the American 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry and 1st Cavalry Division and the North Vietnamese 32rd, 33rd, and 66th Regiments in the rugged Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam's Central Highlands. But this is more than just a straight forward combat narrative; the book also portrays the personal side of men in battle.

    ONCE AN EAGLE by Anton Myrer (USAWC Foundation Press, 1995) This historical novel, first published in the 1960s, is perhaps one of the most important military novels ever written. Its stark and realistic descriptions of men in combat are classic. The author realistically portrays the confusion of combat, the bonds that form between men who fight together and the responsibility of command. A must-read for those young leaders contemplating a career in the profession of arms.

    THE KILLER ANGELS by Michael Shaara (Ballantine, 1974) The Killer Angels is a Pulitzer-Prize winning fictional account of the bloody battle at Gettysburg, a pivotal three-day fight during the American Civil War. Based on solid historical research, the book takes a close, personal look at this monumental struggle from the perspective of the key participants on both sides who directly influenced the outcome.

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