Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II

Adam Makos. Ballantine, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8041-7672-9
Historian Makos (A Higher Call) draws on correspondence, secondary sources, and first-person testimony to tell the story of Cpl. Clarence Smoyer and his tank crew as they fought across Europe in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Division, nicknamed “Spearhead,” in WWII. Losses in the division were so high that tankers stopped naming their vehicles because they were destroyed so quickly. Stroyer’s crew was one of only 20 to be selected to man the new, top-secret M-26 Pershing tanks, and it was in an M-26 that the most famous of Smoyer’s exploits took place during the 1945 battle for Cologne: a one-on-one showdown against a formidable Panther tank, reminiscent of an American West gunfight, on the streets—all caught on film. Makos also includes the experience of the Panther’s German crewman Gustav Schafer—and Smoyer and Schafer’s latter-day meeting in the city square in Cologne; they walk the street where their tanks faced each other 70 years before. The tension, death, and courage that were everyday experiences for American tankers fill the pages of Makos’s book. This moving story of bravery and comradeship is an important contribution to WWII history that will inform and fascinate both the general reader and the military historian. Agent: David Vigliano, AGI Vigliano Literary. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 01/03/2019
Release date: 02/19/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-984845-98-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-984846-00-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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