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'LeMay' by Warren Kozak, a Book Review.

Discussion in 'Biographies and Everything Else' started by George Patton, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Aug 22, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Ontario, Canada
    I read this book back in May, but forgot to post a review of it.

    All-in-all, its a very good book. As the name implies, it is a biography of USAAF/USAF General Curtis LeMay. While it covers his entire life, the focus is on the development of air-power during the 1920s, WWII and the early Cold War. I felt that the book was well-balanced (it takes the time to address common LeMay criticisms, instead of ignoring them), and appears to be well-researched.


    • The book flows very well, and is easy to follow
    • Short enough to read in a few nights (400 pages) yet it still has enough information to give you a good history of LeMay.
    • Covers the "big picture" (ie: tactics, the general state of the world at the time), LeMay's role in it and LeMay's personal life. The book combines these quite well, and it isn't an 'awkward' transition between these topics.
    • Ties LeMay's actions into his command philosophy, so the reader gets a good idea of why LeMay acted that way.
    • Doesn't portray LeMay as a crazed nuclear warrior (which I would have expected in a recently-published book, given his controversial life).
    • Does not revert to revisionism.
    • It doesn't present any new information (so there is nothing "groundbreaking" in the book), but it combines the existing information very well.
    • If anything, the book is too short -- I would have gladly read another 400 pages.
    • I wish that Kozak could have expanded a bit on some facts. For example, early in the book it mentions LeMay developed Bell's Palsy, but didn't explain the impact it had on his life. Notably, it was the reason why he never smiled in a photo -- it was very difficult physically for him to do so.
    • I have mixed thoughts about the reasoning the book gave for LeMay being Wallace's running mate. In short, it said LeMay didn't want Nixon to win (so went with Wallace to "sabotage" the other campaign) and he was also looking for a platform to bring attention to his push for new USAF weapons. It claims LeMay knew what he was doing and knew that it would tarnish his reputation. Finally, the book doesn't say running with Wallace was an error in judgement (which I think it was), so I'm not sure how accurate the book's assessment is.

    Bottom line: I highly recommend it. Everyone with an interest in WWII bombing should read it, as should everyone with an interest in SAC.
    Motorstreet and belasar like this.
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

    May 9, 2010
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    Good concise Review, thanks!

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