Customer Reviews


91 Reviews
5 star:
 (60)
4 star:
 (19)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


187 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars family review
As the daughter of Curtis LeMay I found this book the most cogent and descriptive of my father the man. Many of the myths that frequently clouded the facts and lead to a misunderstanding are dispelled. Kozak has done extensive research and presented a candid and unbiased account of his colorful career.

I never saw my father as anything less than honest, fair...
Published on April 30, 2009 by J. L. Lodge

versus
21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short popular biography
This is a short biography that at times seems more of a pastiche than an original work. The author has combined material from LeMay's papers and family with material from well-known longer works, such as "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes, as well as two earlier biographies of LeMay.

The book suffers from the dumbing-down of the style that...
Published on September 20, 2009 by WhiteyC


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

187 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars family review, April 30, 2009
As the daughter of Curtis LeMay I found this book the most cogent and descriptive of my father the man. Many of the myths that frequently clouded the facts and lead to a misunderstanding are dispelled. Kozak has done extensive research and presented a candid and unbiased account of his colorful career.

I never saw my father as anything less than honest, fair and a willing leader beloved and respected by those he commanded. Frequently he has been quoted as having said of the Vietnam War "bomb them back to the stone age". Personally I can set the record straight. This was not his quote but MacKinlay Kantor's statement missed in my father's early editing of the manuscript for "Mission with LeMay". My family is heartened to know that his sacrifices, contributions and patriotism are being recognized.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!!, April 26, 2009
I began this book because of my interest in the Second World War. Curtis LeMay seems to have been the only significant figure on the American side without an in-depth biography. Well, he has one now, but that is not my point. Looking for a biography of a man of the middle 20th century, I found a biography of the United States in the middle 20th century. Only in America would this child of a terminally unsuccessful, uneducated father work his way through college, join the Army and make such an amazing success of his life without the advantages of a "good family," good looks, charm, social or political adeptness, or even all that much luck. What he had was guts, brains, and the ability to apply relentlessly those guts and brains to the problem at hand. It seems that the only "gift" he was endowed with was the ability to inspire others to work hard and fight hard, but this inspirational "gift" was probably the natural consequence of his own hard work and devotion to duty and country. Indeed, he was such a lousy politician that he thought that he could actually accomplish something useful by a short-term alliance with George Wallace (of all people!), with whose abhorrent views he disagreed.

Although I purchased the book because of LeMay's role in the Second World War, what I found most interesting was the application of LeMay's ideas to the problems faced by the United States today. LeMay believed (of course) that is the job of the politicians to decide when and where to go to war (and they had better think long and hard about that!) but, once they have made that decision, it is the job of the professional soldier to bring that war to as quick and successful a resolution as possible. LeMay believed that the all-out approach to war (such as the firebombing campaign he designed for the Japanese home islands) was ultimately the most humane method and resulted in the fewest civilian casualties as it ended a war more quickly. The LeMay Doctrine is directly opposed to the "proportional response" methods endorsed by such men as Robert McNamara, who believed that the US should temper its responses to match those of its enemies and not bring its overwhelming firepower to bear on the enemy. This McNamara view appears to be the view of each Administration since the end of the Korean War - and does not appear to have worked very well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Must read" for anyone interested in World War Two, April 24, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A gripping story vividly told. The author captures LeMay's life and achievements in a single, telling phrase: a "life of great consequence." His life was of great consequence for the country, for the men serving under him and for aviation in general. General LeMay's virtues, and shortcomings, make for a story that I could not stop reading. His struggles and successes at so many critical stages of his life and the life of this country repeatedly provoked a mental exclamation: "What a man!" His ingenuity and perseverance, whether in pursuing entry into flight school in the twenties or in creating the Strategic Air Command in the fifties, are astonishing. The book's presentation of LeMay's career before World War II was especially fascinating.

The political and military situation of those years has spooky echoes in our own time, and it is hard to imagine who would be our own LeMay if we needed one.

LeMay's guiding principle--civilians decide whether to go to war, generals must then carry it on so as to end it as fast as possible with the minimum loss of life--threw a new light on his career. It certainly revised my view of LeMay, which reflected the portrayal of "General Jack D. Ripper" in the movie Dr. Strangelove. At the same time, the story, told so clearly, is a modern tragedy. LeMay was not a "man for all seasons," but he was the best man for the difficult seasons of World War II and the Cold War. The very virtues that made him so essential during those periods--his doggedness, his utter focus on results rather than on appearance and style--made him someone for whom the country at peace thought it had no further use. He may not have been the man you want to sit next to at dinner, but he was certainly the man you want to stand next to in combat. A "must read" for anyone interested in World War II or in the country's response to unexpected but lethal external threats.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Don't Know LEMAY You Should, April 26, 2009
By 
Allen Roth (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Before reading this wonderful biography/history, my information about General Curtis Lemay was limited to his comment about bombing the North Vietnamese "into the stone age." I had also heard that he was the real character behind a bomb crazed character in Dr. Stangelove.

This biography taught me how much more there is to know about Curtis Lemay. Warren Kozak takes us through the complex life of an important figure in recent American History. Lemay played a central role in devising American Air Force strategy. He was clearly a military visionary (and hero) who broke new ground that helped America fight wars starting with the Second World War. He was also responsible for developing United States Air Force into the greatest air force in world.

As Mr. Kozak takes us through the fascinating story of Lemay's accomplishments he also relates the history of these tumultuous times. Mr. Kozak has a very good eye for the anecdotes and events that inform readers. Lemay's interaction with President Kennedy is one example I am sure all readers will find of interest.

While Mr. Kozak clearly admirers Lemay's professional accomplishments he does not shy away from the less attractive and controversial side of his subject.

This book is superb history integrated into the biography of an important historical figure who has been largely forgotten. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read!, April 25, 2009
How rare it is to spin such a compelling tale from the life of a man so reviled. This biography flows like a novel, and though one knows the historical facts the context is filled-in remarkably, with anecdotes that are colorful and enlightening. The sense of tension maintained throughout the book makes the story a true "page-turner"; I found myself drawn into this life history in a way that I would never have felt possible for a person with LeMay's reputation.

Anybody who lived through the 60's, or has an interest in the political currents of the 60's, needs to read this biography. This book may transform the public perception of the archetypal Dr Strangelove figure in modern American History.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LeMay: Absorbing Story Well Told, May 22, 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
LEMAY by Warren Kozak

BOOK REVIEW by Arthur W. Harrigan, Seattle, Wa.

LeMay had an exterior as blunt as a bulldozer, but his power lay in sublety, craft, planning, and then meticulous, relentless execution.

This book mirrors its subject. The prose has few frills. The author's skill lies in painting a subtle portrait using the same plain-speak Curtis Le May employed to get his job done.

LeMay is a worthy subject. He is a thread that wound its way with ever-growing power through five decades of tumult. LeMay came to age at the outset of the Great Depression, was in at the birth of our Air Force, rose to command leadership in World War II, ran the Berlin Airlift and then the Strategic Air Command through and beyond the Korean War, predicted the failure at the Bay of Pigs, and became Air Force Chief under Kennedy in spite of the President's dislike for him. Le May's genius consistently shone through his off-putting shell.

Le May was subtly implacable. He planned his maneuvers and executed them with daring and determination. LeMay was not without charm, but he had a daunting demeanor. He had no interest in cultivating friendship in the ranks or in socializing with his superiors. Instead, because of his stunning effectiveness, he was soon respected, then admired, then revered from below and from above. He was a real military man. He lived and worked to defeat those who would do his country harm, but worked just as hard to find ways to do it at least cost in American lives.

At every key turning point along the way, Le May outmaneuvered the enemy--which, more often than not, included both the nominal enemy and the military bureaucracy.

LeMay did not engage in these tactics primarily to advance himself. In 1931, he turned down a 600% increase in pay from nascent American Airlines to remain a soldier at a time when he had no reason to believe he would even be promoted in the stagnant U.S. military machine of that era. Le May was ambitious, but his ambition was to be justly admired for getting his military job done--and, like many very effective people, to avoid screwing up.

The author has a fine talent for staying out of the way of his own story. And what a story it is. The book opens a series of unique windows into critical events in our history, beginning with the birth of large-scale aerial bombardment, with Le May as its American father. This chapter at the outset of Le May's rise epitomizes the combination of genius, craft, determination, and stubbornness that he brought to every job.

After being assigned his own air group immediately after arriving in England in 1942, Le May was offended by, and doubted, the conventional wisdom then governing aerial bombardment over Germany. American generals had rejected the British night-bombing approach in favor of "targeted" daylight bombing, but American B-17 pilots were expected to "jink" over the target to avoid anti-aircraft fire. Le May concluded that his men could not hit the targets while preoccupied with dodging flak. Le May believed the point of the massive investment the country had made in bombers and crew was to blow up the targets, not to focus on preserving the investment. But he also doubted that anti-aircraft fire was effective enough to justify dodging around in the air to avoid it.

After days of calculations and planning, Le May set a course straight over the target for the next bombing run. Faced with fear and opposition, he decided to fly the mission himself, in the lead, and most-targeted, aircraft. Le May had one reservation: since he had never flown in a bombing mission and never been fired upon in combat, he wondered if he would be afraid--but he did not wonder about the accuracy of his judgment.

Le May was right. Not one plane was lost to anti-aircraft fire. The bombing results were in a class by themselves. Le May's approach was immediately adopted fleet-wide. Le May's men revered him for finding a way to the job they were there to do without increased risk to them--and for flying in the most vulnerable plane on his experimental mission.

This Le May pattern is repeated throughout a career of spectacular effectiveness at critical moments in our military history. The story is inherently absorbing. The author presents Le May with skill and finesse. A very worthwhile read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You, General LeMay, May 10, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My father wore the blue suit for the United States in the 50s and 60s, and so I have always been aware of General LeMay's presence at the pinnacle of SAC. And I have always had a gap in my knowledge of LeMay. Thanks to this book, that gap has been filled.

Other reviews will sketch in the details of the biography, and you can refer to them as you wish. I will only say that this is a story which was worth writing, and is very much worth reading. I read it over the course of a week, always a little reluctant to close the book, always eager to open it the next day.

On the flip side, this book is written in the most painfully unadorned prose I believe I have ever read. And it contains a number of mispellings, including: "sight" when "site" is meant and, most egregious, "ordinance" when "ordnance" is meant (I had visions of city councils passing leash laws). In the end, though, it is the story that matters

So, thank you, Warren Kozak, for writing this book; but thank you so much more, General LeMay.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars page-turner, April 26, 2009
If ever you could call a biography a "page-turner," this is it! This is a fascinating book about a man who began his career in the post-WWI era flying biplanes and finished his career as the man who designed the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Had I not known something about Curtis E. LeMay before picking up this book, I would have thought that its subject was a fictional character. After all, how many men begin flying biplanes and end up flying jet bombers with nuclear payloads?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Book on Le May., May 13, 2009
By 
Steven Zebic (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've got a feeling that in the future, Curtis LeMay will finally recieve the recognition that he rightly deserves. I've only given this book four stars because I think the definitive book on LeMay is yet to be written. I think the books greatest strength is that it seems to be the first one that has tried to tackle LeMay's personality comprehensively.

LeMay is frequently portrayed as the one dimensional bomber man, whose solution to everything is to blow it up. This book is a welcome rebuttal to the image. I would not say that this book is sympathetic to LeMay, rather it is an accurate portrayal of his character. Behind the gruff exterior was a quiet, incredibly hard working man who cared deeply for his country, friends and family. Mr Kozak is to be commended for the effort.

If I have a quibble with the book, it is because I felt it did not cover his epic battles with MacNamara enough. Few people realise actually how much effort LeMay put into trying to avoid the Vietnam debacle. Still, do yourself a favor and buy the book, it makes for great reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warrior and Leader of Men, June 9, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I believe that the following quote, taken from the book, best sums up my feelings regarding the man and warrior, Curtis LeMay.

"After the service (LeMays death) the hearse had gone around the side of the chapel to wait as the guests and cadets exited. When it was time to move on to the cemetery, Janie (LeMay's daughter) and some of the other family members were surprised to see a hugh buck (deer), which had strolled onto the academy grounds from the nearby woods, standing right next to the hearse, almost in homage to the departed hunter (LeMay). As they approached it, the buck jumped over the hearse and bounded off."

There are those in life who have a unique ability to grasp what is necessary for the task assigned. They worry little about self and realize that life sometimes demands more then merely existing. Their contribution to humanity is not always readily measurable or understood. Mother Nature has seen to it that only the strongest survive. There is a power higher then man. Man is the instrument of that power.

This book has taught me much that I did not know about another world hero.

Thank you General.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay
LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay by Warren Kozak (Paperback - October 17, 2011)
$18.95 $14.24
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.