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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2009
War Stories of the Tankers

Michael Green, 2008, 319 pages

What makes this book so interesting is that it not only covers WWII, but includes a section on World War I tankers and current stories from Iraq.

The WWI section is fascinating because there were so few US tankers. In this section you hear from guys who attacked German positions, were sometimes knocked out and had to work their way back to Allied lines to avoid capture. It's amusing to read that a Major disembarked from his disabled tank and brought his basket of messenger pigeons with him.

WWII experiences are likewise illuminating. A US tanker looks at a tank, notices the excellent camouflage paint and suddenly realizes he's looking down the barrel of a German tank. Another tank leader accepts that he will not survive an encounter with the Germans and gives his personal effects to an aide to send home. Some of his troops follow his example. Fortunately, one survived to tell the tale.

Vietnam experiences have a different feel to them. The writers have often been to officer's school and their reports have the air of an after-action report. Radio dialogue is presented and one can really get a feel for what fighting the Vietcong and NVA soldiers was like.

Finally, first-hand experiences from Iraq are presented. The reader gets a new appreciation for the fighting spirit and technical competence of our tankers. While I'm sure that this extends to all branches of the military, tankers not only "know their business" but have a very aggressive spirit. It's fascinating to read Gunnery Sgt Nick Popivitch's lengthy account of playing a cat and mouse game with Iraqi insurgents. Often unsupported by infantry, Popivitch's huge tank sneaked around Fallujah and tried to outwit insurgents who were determined to knock out his tank. When they finally got him in their sights, the insurgent's RPGs just bounced off or detonated ineffectively. Popivitch usually got them first.

The pre-Iraq stories offer great insights into the thinking and actions of our tankers. The Iraq experiences really highlight that the US not only has fabulous military equipment but crews these weapons with technically capable and aggressive soldiers and marines.

A Soviet officer's comment about US tankers in Europe during the cold war went something like this: "When American tankers go into the field, they practice their war fighting skills. When Soviet tankers go into the field, we pick potatoes." (p 215)

These stories will offer American readers the comforting idea that our soldiers are probably the best trained, best led and best equipped in the world. If we can maintain that edge, our future is secure.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Many of us who enjoy reading about tanks and armored vehicles get bogged down in technical detail about the vehicles and forget that tanks carry men. These men are often frightened, cold or want to be somewhere else, but the American tank crews get the job done, sometimes with inadequate equipment. Mr. Green has assembled a nice volume of first-person stories told by the actual men who manned the tanks from the fields of France in WW1 to the burning deserts of the Persian Gulf conflicts. These stories are interesting and put the human touch back into mechanized combat. These are not knights jousting but men who have to operate and maintain a big, complex, dirty piece of military equipment. Tanks are hot in the summer cold in the winter. When they halt the troopers have to service the tank before they can take care of themselves. Armor in the combat arm of decision, but tanks are also prime targets on the battlefield. The stories cover many aspects of US Army and Marine Corps tank crew experiences. Preserving the stories of the men who ran the tanks is a fine tribute to them. Very easy reading and certainly of interest to any military historian.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2008
The title says it all...... this is truly a broad collection of tankers' stories starting with WWI and continuing through the operations in Iraq. There's even a chapter on "Cold War" tankers. If you liked the first person accounts in Green's At War series and you're into tanks, this is the book for you. This is very unlike Green's "At War" books in that it is not heavy on visuals, even though there are 16 or so pages of B&W photos. But with the "At War" series, why would you need more pictures? The length of the accounts vary, some running just a few pages and some quite involved. My favorites were the WWI tanker making his way through no man's land (shades of All Quiet on the Western Front) and the WWII tanker shipping off to the Pacific. This book is fascinating, and in these days of rising prices, it's a great buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2014
I found tales of my husband during one of his three deployments as a tank commander and tank platoon sergeant. A great bed side read if you are a military spouse of a combat arms hero
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VINE VOICEon January 28, 2010
A great book for all Armor fans. True stories from men who fought in all conditions from the earliest tanks of WW1 to the present. If you ever were, want to be a tanker, or want to know what it is like, do yourself a favor and read this book. Some tidbits I did not know - M26 had 90mm cannon - not unusual to shoot 1,000 rounds a day in the Korean War. Can you imagine the number of trucks it would take to support that!

To avoid artilley rounds, tanks would move forward and backward...playing "checkers" with tanks. Smart!

When you don't have a coffee maker, you put coffee grinds in a sock and toss that into a helmet to make coffee.

SNAFUs are day-day events in every war since dawn of time. He who makes the fewest mistakes wins.

"I was probably more gung-ho than I should have been...." When a tanker is saying that, the answer is yup, you were.....

Vietnam LTC Berbaum, US Marines - his troops stole a tank, the boss is mad & on the phone. Berbaum's reply "I'd love to explain to the General why it was necessary to have to steal a tank to support Marines in combat.....shortly thereafter, I was reassigned to Division.....that is called payback"

There is a story in there from Nick Popaditch - Gunney, USMC. He wrote his own book about the Iraqi war "Once a Marine" which is also recommended reading.

Highly recommended reading - it puts you in the tank turret, lets you see war as a Tank Commander does. Heroism, humor, hard work, sacrifice - things all warriors do, these just happen to be riding steel beasts into battle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2013
I liked having the history of all the major conflicts for the comparisons. The descriptions of the tanks used was also good. The comments of the men who used the weapons was interesting,
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Michael Green has done a great job of showing us the American tankers' view of wars from the introduction in WW I to the War on Terror. His presentation is very readable and the stories are to the point. This is an important look at individual stories of the type that we are losing every day as out veterans grow older. Thanks for helping us all remember a bit of what it was like whatever period of time we spent in the turret.
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on October 20, 2014
This is a good book. If you want first hand accounts of American tankers in the last 96 years this book is excellent. The narrations vary in quality but that is due to the abilities of the first hand writers. I have only got to Viet Nam so far but this book is eye opening and leaves you with a feeling of deep respect and solidarity with fellow soldiers.
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on November 12, 2009
This book is full of great stories about the common soldier. Through these stories it is easy to empathize with the tanker, to understand a bit of what they experience. The book is organized by time period so you also get a feel for how things change (and stay the same.)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2011
Overall this was a good book. The WW1 stories were excellent as were Vietnam and Desert Storm. What I found lacking was the scant attention paid to WW2. The African Campaign with Patton against Rommel wasn't even mentioned. The first few stories in the WW2 section were about how bad the war was. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes tank warfare but based on the skimpy coverage of the biggest tank war of all time I can't say it was a great book.
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