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A compelling, exciting adventure of a hard-driving American force, “the first Allied unit to punch through the West Wall and...

An in-the-moment re-creation of the Allied breakthrough of the West Wall into Nazi Germany by a remarkable cadre of tank crewmen of the 3rd Armored Division.

Based on testimony from several surviving veterans—both American and German—military writer Makos (Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice, 2015, etc.) presents the true story of this intrepid division, which Gen. Omar Bradley described as having led the endgame against the beleaguered Germans across Europe “with a serious and grim intensity.” The primary hero of this tale is Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, who evolved in his tank duties from being a gunner on an aging Sherman tank, dodging superior Panthers through the fields of occupied Belgium, to commanding the first Pershing in a spectacular showdown into Cologne, Germany, in spring 1945. It was the beginning of the end for Germany in the months after the D-Day landings, and the 3rd Armored Division was leading the breakout across northern France, thus earning the name “Spearhead” Division. With illustrations and photos, Makos offers comparisons between the unpopular and outgunned Shermans and the seemingly invulnerable Panthers and Tigers. However, “a secret weapon” had just arrived from America in the form of the Pershing tank, introduced by the legendary commander Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, who led the Spearhead Division. In it, Smoyer would charge into Germany’s fortress city, Cologne. However, as the author writes, “this is not a story about machines, how one tank stacked up against another. This is a story about people.” Through alternating firsthand accounts by Smoyer and a German tank crewman, Makos reveals much about the German determination to thwart the Allies during the final Battle of the Bulge as well as the weary civilian population’s quick turn to fraternization once the game was over.

A compelling, exciting adventure of a hard-driving American force, “the first Allied unit to punch through the West Wall and to also capture a German town.”

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8041-7672-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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