Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Omar Bradley, by Steven Zaloga review

My grandfather Cortland had a lot of respect for General Omar Bradley. He was proud to say that her served under Bradley during the Normandy invasion. Cortland even saw him on Utah Beach shortly after D-Day. The general was yelling at some sergeant for allowing the men to work without their helmets.

Omar Bradley commanded the entire American ground force during the Normandy invasion, yet he is often overlooked by those with casual interest in WWII history. Eisenhower, MacArther, and certainly Patton are the American generals who steal the spotlight. Osprey Publishing recently published a solid and short biography of Bradley in their Command series. In 64 pages the author presents Bradley's military career and a good sense of his quiet, yet determined personality. Zaloga condenses the general's history well, while still managing to highlight interesting details. For instance, the dour expression seen in Bradley's photographs is a result of losing his front teeth in a sports accident.

The book discusses Bradley's role in the strategy of the war in the Mediterranean and Europe, and his relationship with other Allied generals. It touches on his responsibilities in the Veterans Administration and his role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Cold War. In addition to Bradley's war record, it was his management of the VA (which assisted GIs after the war) and his humble upbringing that won the respect of regular Joes like my grandfather.

Besides the war biographies written by the general himself, there have been very few texts devoted to Bradley. Zaloga offers a quick and comprehensive introduction to Omar Bradley, and he shares numerous seldom-seen photographs dug from the collections at the National Archives and the US Army Military History Institute.