Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times

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Simon & Schuster, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 429 pages
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He's been called the greatest American general since Ulysses Grant, the world's champion tank commander, a pure soldier, and, affectionately, General "Abe". Yet relatively little is known by the general public about this man who, for more than four decades, in three wars and in peacetime service, demonstrated the skill, courage, integrity, and compassion that made him a legend in his profession. Now, in Thunderbolt, Lewis Sorley brings us the definitive biography of General Creighton Abrams, placing the man and his achievements within the context of the Army he served and ultimately led, and of the national and international events in which he played a vital role. Meticulously researched and richly detailed, Thunderbolt explores the brilliant career of this authentic military hero, from cadet to Army Chief of Staff. A classic American success story, Creighton Abrams graduated from West Point in 1936 and spent four years as a troop officer in the 7th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Bliss, before joining the newly established Armored Force in 1940. He served with the 4th Armored Division throughout World War II, first as commander of the 37th Tank Battalion, later as Combat Command commander. During that war, he won two Distinguished Service Crosses, led the tank column that broke through the Nazi encirclement of the 101st Airborne Division in the Battle of the Bulge, and used up or wore out seven tanks, all of them named Thunderbolt. A complex and sophisticated man, Abrams was equally capable, whether leading a tank column across Europe or overseeing Army troops on civil rights duty during integration at the University of Mississippi. In Vietnam, he further proved his tactical skill and diplomacyas commander of U.S. forces during the four difficult years of the American withdrawal. Thunderbolt sheds new light on these largely neglected latter years of the Vietnam conflict, showing how Abrams radically revised the approach to fighting the war and achieved unprecedented success in anticipating and preempting enemy offensives, at a time when his own troops were progressively being redeployed to the United States. Abrams returned from Vietnam to an Army racked with all the problems of having fought a long and unpopular war. Succeeding General William C. Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff, he set about the task of restoring the integrity, self-confidence, and self-respect of the force. Despite his untimely death after only two years in office, he has been credited by the leaders of today's Army with initiating the reforms that led to victory in Desert Storm. Thunderbolt is at once the story of the quintessential soldier and of the transformation of the United States Army from the horse brigades of the 1930s through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, to the high-tech military force that ultimately emerged in the Persian Gulf. Writing with insight and sensitivity, Sorley reveals Abrams's engaging and volatile personality, his enduring professional values, his exceptional physical bravery and intellectual courage, and his capacity to lead and touch men. A stirring portrait of a great soldier, the book is also an important contribution to military history.

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THUNDERBOLT: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

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 ... Read full review

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User Review  - ChrisElyea - LibraryThing

This is a full biography of General Abrams. Abrams was a leader in the development of armoured doctrine before, during, and after World War II. He made a name for himself by leading from his tank as a ... Read full review



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About the author (1992)

Lewis Sorley "is a third-generation graduate of the United States Military Academy who also holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. He served in Vietnam, and in the Pentagon in the offices of Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland. He also taught at West Point and the Army War College.?He is the author of five highly-regarded works of military history.

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