Old Glory Stories: American Combat Leadership in World War II

Article excerpt

Old Glory Stories: American Combat Leadership in World War II by Cole C. Kingseed. Naval Institute Press (http://www.usni.org/press/press.html) , 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Maryland 214025034, 2006, 280 pages, $36.95 (hardcover).

Although we have various works on leadership during World War II, Old Glory Stories by Col Cole C. Kingseed, USA, retired, is refreshing in dial, in a single volume, it evaluates combat leadership at die strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. Moreover, the text goes beyond a mere historical review of leaders such as Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Ornar Bradley. Indeed, Colonel Kingseed provides insight into such lesser-known though no less significant warriors as Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, Jonathan "Skinny" Wainwright, Lucian K. Truscott, Walter Krueger, and J. Lawton "Lightning Joe" Collins.

However, the book goes beyond a review of leadership at the general-officer level, which comprises "The Generals," part 1 of the work. In "The Warriors," part 2, Colonel Kingseed evaluates and educates readers on the exploits of such legends as Col Paul Tibbets, Capt Joe Dawson, Maj Dick Winters, and several lieutenants: VernonJ. Baker, Audie L. Murphy, and LyIeJ. Bouck. Of particular interest is a chapter on Maj Charity Adams Early, the first African-American female to command a battalion in the European theater of operations. Like many others, she faced a twin fight-one against the racism of the Army and another against the Axis. Throughout, the author provides a balanced evaluation of the leadership traits, personalities, and challenges encountered by theater and Army group commanders (those in charge of several armies), as well as company commanders and platoon leaders.

Colonel Kingseed follows Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Stilwell from cadet days to the pinnacle of their service, adding to our knowledge of the relationship between the two supreme commanders. Moreover, the author educates us on Stilwell, one of the oft-forgotten theater commanders who led forces in the extremely challenging China-Burma-India theater. While combating the Japanese, the general constandy fought with the Allies over strategy and with the Army for supplies and manpower. As Kingseed notes, "Stilwell was not called Vinegar Joe for nothing" (p. 32).

After analyzing Army group commanders, the author highlights the exploits of Army commanders in the Pacific theater, whom he rightfully categorizes as forgotten warriors. When one thinks of that area of operations, images of fast-carrier task forces and Marine landings immediately come to mind. However, the Army deployed over 21 divisions to the theater (the Marines had six) as well as the Fifth, Seventh, Thirteenth, and Twentieth Air Forces (US Army Air Forces). Needless to say, most Americans (and quite a few Airmen) are unaware of this fact. After providing a detailed account of General Wainwright's ordeal after the surrender of Corregidor, the book also outlines the leadership of General Krueger, Sixth Army commander, who started in Australia, fought hard-won battles in New Guinea, and then went on to liberate the Philippines. Kingseed also objectively analyzes Lt Gen Simon Buckner, who commanded Tenth Army (consisting of both Marine and Army corps-sized units) during the battle for Okinawa-where he was killed in action. …