Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
An engaging historical walk with the infantry...
on March 24, 2009
John McManus has a great gift for writing engrossing historical narratives. Don't let the academic title and cover deceive you. His latest book is not some dry academic chronicle of the 7th Infantry Regiment ("the Cottonbalers") from the Korean War to the modern era. It is up close and personal journey with the American infantryman as he struggles to carry out his mission through all kinds of adversity in all kinds of wars.
McManus takes you from the rugged mountains of Korea where seemingly endless waves of Chinese threaten to dislodge you from your frozen hillside foxhole, to the humid, mosquito infested rice paddies of Vietnam where a ghostly enemy strikes suddenly and then disappears. The saga ends with modern day Cottonbalers dispersing from Bradleys to battle insurgents in the heart of Baghdad. McManus not only tells a good series of stories, he paints graphic pictures complete with sights, smells, and sounds.
Throughout the book's subject span of nearly sixty years, the names, the weapons and the geographic settings change, but the unique burdens of the infantryman remain unchanged. McManus reminds the reader that wars are won by an army's ability to capture and hold ground. This is the dirty, thankless job of an infantryman whether he wears a steel pot and carries a carbine, or relies on Kevlar, night-vision, and an M16.
I am looking forward to reading the upcoming "prequel" to this unique unit history. McManus will detail the 7th Infantry Regiment from the War of 1812 to WWII. I expect another round of engaging storytelling where a musket, Springfield, and M1 Garand will be placed alternately into my figurative hands. I also suspect the core theme will remain: the queen of battle is, and always has been, the infantry.