Tuesday, August 19, 2008

{Review} Mission with LeMay: My Story by General Curtis E. LeMay (with MacKinlay Kantor)

LeMay's autobiography is a surprisingly readable book, considering how often autobiographies tend to lean towards endless philosophizing and finger-pointing at peers and contemporaries. LeMay, for those who are not familiar with him, is one of those larger than life characters who not only made a significant impact on the course of WW2, but for the next twenty years was a major factor in shaping not only the United States Air Force but also American foreign policy through his development of the Strategic Air Combat and the commitment to around the clock alert status for the nuclear armed aircraft under his command.

He was a member of the United States Army Air Corps during the 1930s and participated in some of the most significant events of the Corp during that time, such as the "bombing" of the USN battleship Utah and the locating of the liner Rex 800 miles off the coast of the USA, demonstrating the ability of the Army Air Corps to act as a strategic arm. He describes these activities, as well as his later WW2 and post war roles, rather well (you can read the Wiki link for LeMay for more info, it's really rather impressive).

LeMay's style as a first person writer (the contributions of Kator versus LeMay are not defined) is fairly readable, although there is a definite sense of someone who knows he is right telling the story. Towards the end of the book he does lose his talent for telling a story and instead indulges himself in political diatribes, so many may just want to skip the last part of the book.

Recommended to anyone who would like a very "I was there" view of some of the most critical command decisions of WW2 and the early Cold War.

Link to LibraryThing entry for this book

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