The son of a West Pointer and the grandson of a Spanish officer, Terry de la Mesa Allen (1888-1969) was admitted to the school only through the intervention of President Teddy Roosevelt. He later flunked out, but eventually managed to get a commission as a reserve officer after graduating from Catholic University. His first active duty was with the cavalry on the Mexican border before World War I. Astor (The Might Eighth) offers a careful resume of the course of WWI up to U. S. entry in 1917, followed by Allen's transfer from cavalry to artillery, where he saw action on various fronts, and was later awarded the Silver Star Medal for heroism. The 20 years of Allen's career between the wars-his marriage; his polo play for the 1920 Olympic team; his different service posts, his troubles with debt, his relations with George Patton and George Marshall-is covered in only one chapter. The latter later promoted Allen to general in 1940; Allen commanded the 1st Division during the invasion of North Africa in November 1942. Thereafter, Astor follows an effective chapter formula: background on the military situation, combat operations, quotes from Allen's letters about the fighting, his relations with other generals and others, as well as some recollections by veterans. Following his relief from command of the 1st Division (criticism of the division by other generals is included), Allen returned to the U.S., but eventually headed up another infantry division, the 104th. In late October 1944, the 104th battled its way through German defenses guarding the Reich, and joined in the invasion of Germany during March and April 1945, capturing Nordhausen concentration camp and reaching the Elbe River, where Soviet forces were met in late April 1945. Astor follows Allen's ups and downs with respectful candor, making this book a treat for WWII buffs in particular.
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An American divisional commander in World War II, Terry de la Mesa Allen was a darling of the press in 1942-43 but has been an obscure figure since then, known only to military historians. Astor could not have timed his revival of Allen better. Interest will have grown because of Rick Atkinson's An Army at Dawn [BKL Ag 02], which prominently features Allen. Astor is a sympathetic biographer, perhaps necessary compensation for the criticism Allen received in Omar Bradley's memoirs, but he does present the brass' gripes about Allen: lack of discipline of his First Division troops and, possibly, a personal drinking habit. Whatever the truth, Eisenhower heeded the complaints and had Allen fired in the middle of the battles for Sicily. Normally this would have been a career-ending setback, but Allen returned to command a new division. Readers will be impressed by Astor's care in researching Allen's upbringing, wounding in World War I, and the qualities that made him an effective leader who was popular with his soldiers. Gilbert Taylor
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Very good read about a real American combat leader, who is not particularly well known.Published 7 months ago by Larry B. Royalty
Terrible Terry was not only a great infantry soldier, he was an astoundingly effective tactician. About the only thing wrong seemed to be that some who outranked him didn't like... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jack Rafuse
Allen's relief appeared to be based upon Bradley's dislike of the lack of discipline in the lst Division yet he did not object to the assingment of the Timber Wolves. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Takio J Goshi
This book could have been a bit more detailed, but overall an enjoyable book about a key figure in World War 2.Published on July 25, 2011 by EJR
Gerald Astor's "Terrible Terry Allen" is a good but uneven treatment of one of the most enigmatic American commanders of World War II. Read morePublished on December 10, 2006 by A. Courie
First, full disclosure. Had my father been home when I was born, I'd likely have been named Terry Allen Aubrey. Read morePublished on October 17, 2004 by Richard Aubrey