THUNDERBOLT by Lewis Sorley


General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times
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 A fine appreciation of the military professional who arguably ranks among America's very best generals. Drawing on interviews with contemporaries and family members as well as on archival sources, Sorley (a USMA grad who served in Vietnam) offers an unsentimental portrait of a career officer who fought in three wars. A member of West Point's Class of `36, Abrams became an authentic hero leading a tank battalion in WW II's ETO. Winning promotion to brigadier general after a tour of duty in Korea, he handled a number of increasingly responsible assignments before being posted to Southeast Asia as General William Westmoreland's deputy and successor. As Sorley makes clear, Abrams probably would be better and more warmly remembered today had he been given a better war to fight. In any case, Abrams gave a brilliant account of himself despite restrictive rules of engagement and the fact that his civilian superiors had begun a phased reduction of US combat forces. Back in the States after a four-year absence, he was appointed chief of staff, a position that allowed him (before his untimely death at 59 in 1974) to initiate the reforms that eventually helped the US Army win in the Persian Gulf. While Sorley focuses on the talents that gained Abrams renown as a world-class strategist and tactician, he does not scant the qualities that also made him a soldier's soldier and a very human being. In addition to recounting the feats of arms that earned the colorful, cigar-chomping Abrams a legendary reputation among front- line troops and peers, the author provides affecting glimpses of his subject's personal and spiritual life. Though tough-minded and a stickler for integrity and honesty, Abrams (a late-in-life convert to Roman Catholicism) was evidently a devoted father of six, a loving husband, and a compassionate, if demanding, commander. A well-told tale of a paradigmatic warrior. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos--not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-70115-0
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992


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