Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times

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General Creighton Abrams has been called the greatest American general since Ulysses S. Grant; George Patton called him the world's champion tank commander. Yet at the time this book was first published in 1992, he was little known by most Americans. For more than four decades, in three wars and in challenging peacetime assignments, Abrams demonstrated the skill, courage, integrity, and compassion that made him a legend in his profession. Thunderbolt is the definitive biography of the man who commanded U.S. ...
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Overview

General Creighton Abrams has been called the greatest American general since Ulysses S. Grant; George Patton called him the world's champion tank commander. Yet at the time this book was first published in 1992, he was little known by most Americans. For more than four decades, in three wars and in challenging peacetime assignments, Abrams demonstrated the skill, courage, integrity, and compassion that made him a legend in his profession. Thunderbolt is the definitive biography of the man who commanded U.S. forces in Vietnam during the withdrawal stage and for whom the army's main battle tank is named. With a new introduction by the author, this edition places the complex and sophisticated Abrams and his many achievements in the context of the army he served and ultimately led, and of the national and international events in which he played a vital role. Thunderbolt is a stirring portrait of the quintessential soldier and of the transformation of the U.S. Army from the horse brigades of the 1930s to the high-tech military force of today.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Abrams 1914-1974 made a name for himself during WW II's Battle of the Bulge when he led his tank battalion in relief of an encircled American division at Bastogne. A quarter century later, having replaced Gen. William Westmoreland as MAC-V Military Assistance Command-Vietnam commander in Saigon, he supervised the process of preparing the South Vietnamese government to take over the war while American forces withdrew. Abrams's reputation for competence and uncompromising integrity was intact when he returned to the U.S. in 1972 ``Abe never talks about ethics,'' said a colleague quoted here, ``he just examples it''. Appointed Army chief of staff, Abrams now faced the greatest challenge of his career: reforming the demoralized Army. Sorley, who has taught at West Point and the Army War College, provides a detailed account of how Abrams initiated such a turnaround in the post-Vietnam days. This anecdote-rich biography captures the essence of a great but little-known general who was an important military transitional figure. Photos. Sept.
Library Journal
Abrams's career spanned three American wars (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam), and he finished it as the Army Chief of Staff. His efforts in the immediate post-Vietnam years helped to reform the army into the efficient war machine of the Persian Gulf War. Thunderbolt covers Abrams's entire career in detail. Sources used in this book include an impressive list of books, articles, documents, and interviews. The author's military background (Sorley was a West Point graduate and Pentagon staff officer) is omnipresent--the book reads much like an official military history. This is not to say that the work aggrandizes the U.S. military or government; many shortcomings and Abrams's attempt to grapple with them are discussed. Thunderbolt fills a gap on a very influential member of the U.S. Army. The book is of value to the military historian as well as to history and military buffs. Recommended for academic and public libraries. Miltary Book Club main selection.--Jim Cunningham, Northern Illinois Univ. Lib., DeKalb
New York Times
"A valuable addition to the Vietnam bookshelf." —New York Times
Military
"This book is a must for anyone wishing to understand the U.S. Army of today." —Military, July 2009
General John R. Galvin (U.S. Army
"Sorley's superb insight shows General Abe for what he was—the predominant leader of soldiers and the clearest symbol of integrity in a time when his example was most needed. A book that must be read—and not just by soldiers." —General John R. Galvin (U.S. Army, Ret.), former NATO Commander
Stephen Ambrose
"Lewis Sorley has told the Abrams story with verve, sensitivity, and insight." —Stephen Ambrose, author of Undaunted Courage
Derek Leebaert
"The re-issue of Sorley’s classic biography of one of the foremost commanders in U.S. history is to be welcomed by a new generation scholars, military officers, and policy analysts." —Derek Leebaert, author of To Dare and to Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations, from Achilles to Al Qaeda
From the Publisher
The re-issue of Sorley's classic biography of one of the foremost commanders in U.S. history is to be welcomed by a new generation scholars, military officers, and policy analysts.—Derek Leebaert, author of To Dare and to Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations, from Achilles to Al Qaeda
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574881790
  • Publisher: Potomac Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Series: Association of the U. S. Army Book Ser.
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 429
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis Sorley

Lewis Sorley, a third-generation graduate of West Point, served in Vietnam, in NATO forces, and as a Pentagon staff officer. He has taught at West Point and the U.S. Army War College, and has written widely on military affairs and national security. He lives in Potomac, Maryland.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Prologue 9
1 To Be a Soldier 13
2 Preparing for War 32
3 Entering Battle 48
4 Relief of Bastogne 68
5 Finishing It Off 82
6 Doctrine and Tactics 99
7 Occupied Germany 107
8 In Korea 121
9 Fort Knox and the Pentagon 134
10 Germany and Division Command 140
11 Civil Rights Crises 156
12 Corps Command 170
13 Vietnam Buildup 178
14 Deputy Commander in Vietnam 192
15 Tet 1968 211
16 The 206,000 Troop Request 220
17 Taking Command 228
18 A Very Human Touch 243
19 Vietnamization and Pacification 250
20 Murder and the Green Berets 269
21 Cambodian Incursion 279
22 In the Midst of Battles 292
23 Invasion of Laos 305
24 Easter Offensive 317
25 Setting the Course 333
26 Rebuilding an Army 350
27 Final Days 369
Acknowledgments 379
Notes 385
Selected Bibliography 397
Other Sources 406
Index 411
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