Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a long damn book, probably a lot longer than it needed to be. I am pretty sure this book could have been done in 500 pages, there was a lot of unnecessary sections to the book, chapters that did not move the plot forward or contribute to character development. The authors writing style was often rambling and one too many times changed the scene mid paragraph. While the characters, specifically Sam Damon and his wife Tommy, were well developed, the author clung too hard too stereotypes, especially with the secondary characters.
Having said that, this was actually a good book, following the career of General Damon from a farm boy through being an enlisted man, and through to becoming a General. Sam Damon lived a good life, one that many of us only wish we could have had. He was strong, proud and never wavered, except for once, in a moment of weakness, which he regretted the rest of his life. His character was obviously based on every character John Wayne ever played and his wife was Maureen O'Hara, red hair, green eyes and a fury personality. Don't let all of this fool you though, this is very much an anti war story, war is not glorified in this book in any way. Even World War II is portrayed as it actually was, bloody, messy and corrupt. While reading the story, I was often reminded of Catch-22, where the villains are not the Japanese or Nazi Germany, but rather the upper echelons of the military, horrible people who mismanaged the war and made questionable decisions that cost more American soldiers lives than was needed.
I can see why this book is on every 2nd Lieutenants reading list, the book portrays Sam Damon as a man's man and leader among leaders. A leader who is willing to go out on a limb for his men and even crippled his own career at times to do the right thing. The sad thing is, I think a soldier like this would be washed out of service before he ever made Major. Sam Damon is how every officer in the military views himself, but in reality an officer like him would be branded a wild out of control renegade and no one would except him into their command.
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