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Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine Paperback – November 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316067431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316067430
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Coram (Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War) clearly admires Krulak (1913–2008), a contentious Marine leader, and most readers will agree. Son of Jewish immigrants (a fact he suppressed), he attended Annapolis to obtain a free education. After observing Japanese naval operations as a young officer in 1937, he worked tirelessly to promote his design for what later became the Higgins boat, which proved essential for WWII amphibious operations. A decade later, he fought for acceptance of the helicopter. Krulak won numerous decorations for courage and rose to high command, where, Coram claims, his Marines enjoyed greater success than the army in Vietnam, although bitter quarrels with superiors and President Johnson over the war's conduct denied him his dream of becoming Marine Corps commandant. Despite Coram's high regard for Krulak and worshipful view of the Marines, he reveals innumerable details that Krulak suppressed, distorted, or invented in oral histories. Coram portrays a driven, fiercely outspoken. but creative warrior who probably deserves his legendary status. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Coram’s third fine biography of one of the American armed force’s stormy petrels tells the life of Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine Corps. Krulak began his public career by concealing his Jewish background at Annapolis, then went on to see combat in WWI. Between the wars, he carried out covert intelligence missions and development work on the equipment for amphibious operations. After combat in WWII, he was invaluable in the Pentagon infighting that saved the marine corps both then and after Korea. He commanded the marines in the Pacific during part of the Vietnam War, and his disagreements with Kennedy, Johnson, and McNamara probably cost him his chance to be commandant of the corps. Something of a diamond in the rough, he lived to see two of his sons as prominent Episcopal clergymen and his other son retire as commandant of the corps. Probably the best epitaph for Krulak is the one he might well have preferred: a good Marine. --Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I was born and grew up in deep southwest Georgia. Though I have traveled often and far to escape the Troubles, I have been unsuccessful.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Would highly recommend this book to any history buffs.
Spartan
Great read, particularly if you were in the Marine Corps and served when he did.
bob
Very few books are "must read", but for any Marine this one is.
Noncenx

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By J. Scott Shipman on October 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Coram is a national treasure and the recent release of BRUTE confirms his position as one of America's premier military biographers. Mr. Coram took the straight and true method of portraying a genuine great man, but not in absence of his humanity. As Norman Maclean observes in his classic A River Runs Through It, man is a "damned mess;" even the great and the hero has flaws, and General Krulak was no exception. Coram correctly observes in the Acknowledgements:

"Some aspects of Brute Krulak's early years are disturbing. I elected to take an explanatory stance toward those years. Some will say I should have replaced the frail reed of sympathy with the righteous sword of judgement. But my sins as a young man were scarlet, and they were many. I do not consider those green actions the defining moments of my life and if I am to be measured, let it be by the deeds of my later years. Here I afforded Brute Krulak what I would ask for myself."

Wow! It would be nice if more biographer's used such a perspective; as a great man once said to me, "It is not how you start, it is how you finish."

General Krulak did his Corps proud and sometimes it was not pretty, but he held a passionate love for his country and his Corps. Mr. Coram presents a man of single minded purpose, who kept his Corps relevant because he knew that is what America wanted and continues to need. Mr. Coram traces the life story of a man driven to achieve and contribute. From General Krulak's contributions to the development in the years leading up to WWII of amphibious warfare as a core competency to his largely rejected ideas of counterinsurgency warfare in Vietnam, Mr. Coram paints the portrait of a man of substance, intellect, and passion.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By The Cashmere Bookworm on November 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In a breathtaking career spanning the 1930's through the 60's, LtGen Victor Krulak left his mark not only on the Corps, but also on the victory of WWII. He was also the father of 3 sons who all served, the most recently known, General Chuck Krulak who was the 31st Commandant of The Marine Corps. The Krulak name in the history of the Marines is well known, and for good reason. However, his rise, and his family's hold is one that perhaps no one of a certain lineage-dependent mindset could have predicted in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Born in 1913, Krulak didn't fit the external mold of those who traditionally ascended the ranks of the military to make a full-blown career of it --at least on the surface. He was not descended from a familial line who had served in the military. Plus, was short, and had a roughness hewn from growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming when it still very much was the wild west. Krulak was also Jewish.

Writer Robert Coram unravels the strands of mystery surrounding Krulak's roots. While Coram makes far more of Krulak's Jewish roots than the man did himself, the writer does so to reveal Krulak's drive. Perhaps rather than say Krulak reinvented himself, it would not be unreasonable to say that Krulak discovered himself in the genteel halls of Annapolis. The person who emerged was Episcopalian, a new-traditionalist, with just a hint of the dust from the plains of Cheyenne. To Krulak, where he was going was far more important than from where he had come.

The drop-bow Higgins-boat, used in amphibious landings throughout the Pacific and at Normandy, was the result of Krulak's observations of similar craft designed and used by the Japanese during the second Sino-Japanese war.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read Coram's book on Boyd, I was excited to pick this up. Boyd had been an unexpected great read ... picked up on a whim and it became one of my top ten books for three reasons. First, it told a great story that exposed truths about the culture it focused on. Second, it was about a fascinating character. Third, it was based strongly in research and fact.

Brute hits the first and second, but Coram's book seems less grounded in detailed analysis this time around. There are many leaps of logic .... Brute was near something so he must have been involved ... Brute liked something so he must have done it ... etc. That is not to say that these leaps didn't lead to truth, but whereas in Boyd, Coram seemed to detail the logic train, it wasn't done in Brute. There also seemed to be a lot of hyperbole ... Brute had a tremendous secret to hide about his background, family, etc ... which didn't seem to be necessary. It is almost that the author hit on this ying / yang theme about Brute's public and private persona that didn't quite hold up, but he didn't rework the initial premise.

Those criticisms not withstanding, I would still recommend this book. Not as strong as Boyd, but a good read for anyone interested in the Marine Corps, US Military History, or perhaps surprisingly, Business. Yes, Business. The way Krulak managed through the bureaucracy teaches much to those found working in today's corporate hierarchy.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By cpt matt VINE VOICE on April 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The following review is a critique on the book, not the subject Victor `Brute' Kurlak nor the US Marine Corps.

As a former `doggie' my interactions with Marines always left me impressed with them. There was always good natured inter service ribbing, rivalry common among all young men, but when I read this book, author Robert Coram shocked me with his diatribe at the US Army. Perhaps it is justified at the highest levels of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army, Navy and Air Force want the largest piece of the budget. At first, this tirade amused me, then it angered me, then it made me think - what Coram says is true, what is unusual is the bitterness in those attacks. Especially from the son of an Army careerist and someone who was not a Marine. I think this detracts from the author's credibility, in my opinion; historians should report the facts and let readers draw their own conclusions.

Many biographers fall into the trap of lionizing their subjects; I think Coram has done so here. While he acknowledges Brute's not so flattering aspects, I think there's a lot of whitewashing going on. More disturbing of all to a historian is the lack of research into primary sources. Coram relies too heavily on Krulak's recollections when Brute was in his 90's - an old infirmed, self admittedly vainglorious Krulak and on secondary sources - what other historians have said as opposed to digging into original documents. Reliance on writers such as SLA Marshall and William Manchester (two authors who never let truth interfere with a good story) is suspect. While I like the novels of WEB Griffin, what is he doing in the bibliography?

No doubt Krulak was a mover and shaker within the Corps.
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