LIGHTING JOE by J. Lawton Collins


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Lightning Joe"" Collins was the cool, logical tactician whose brilliance lay in keen analysis and meticulous planning--the nickname came by chance from his radio code on Guadalcanal. But he lived up to it in capturing Cherbourg, as Eisenhower once noted; and as commander of the VII Corps he led the breakout from Normandy, pierced the Siegfried line, took Aachen and Cologne, and ultimately pushed East to a meeting with the Russians on the Elbe. This level, businesslike autobiography won't give him the notoriety that some of his peers attained, but it has several elements of interest apart from Collins' clear, concise accounts of battles and campaigns. A 1917 graduate of West Point, Collins served in post-WW I Germany, then began long years of alternately studying and teaching at the Army's advanced officers' schools at Ft. Benning and Ft. Leavenworth. There he caught the attention of George Marshall and joined the group that included Eisenhower, Bradley, Stilwell, and Hodges--they later constituted the American high command. When World War II came, Collins rose rapidly in rank and responsibility, despite his relative youth, and had a chance to put into practice the combat theories developed at the Command and Staff schools. Postwar, he was Army Chief of Staff during the Korean conflict, U.S. representative to the NATO standing group, and a special envoy to Vietnam in the Fifties, after the French left. On these and other touchy situations, he remains the good and faithful soldier, allowing himself only an occasional if-my-advice-had-been-taken afterthought. But there's a lot of solid military history here, and no self-serving flak.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1979
Publisher: Univ. of Louisiana Press