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Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives In World War II

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From the author of the international bestseller A Higher Call comes the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy. When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner’s seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gen From the author of the international bestseller A Higher Call comes the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy. When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner’s seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gentle giant from Pennsylvania has a hidden talent: He’s a natural-born shooter. At first, Clarence and his fellow crews in the legendary 3rd Armored Division—“Spearhead”—thought their tanks were invincible. Then they met the German Panther, with a gun so murderous it could shoot through one Sherman and into the next. Soon a pattern emerged: The lead tank always gets hit. After Clarence sees his friends cut down breaching the West Wall and holding the line in the Battle of the Bulge, he and his crew are given a weapon with the power to avenge their fallen brothers: the Pershing, a state-of-the-art “super tank,” one of twenty in the European theater. But with it comes a harrowing new responsibility: Now they will spearhead every attack. That’s how Clarence, the corporal from coal country, finds himself leading the U.S. Army into its largest urban battle of the European war, the fight for Cologne, the “Fortress City” of Germany. Battling through the ruins, Clarence will engage the fearsome Panther in a duel immortalized by an army cameraman. And he will square off with Gustav Schaefer, a teenager behind the trigger in a Panzer IV tank, whose crew has been sent on a suicide mission to stop the Americans. As Clarence and Gustav trade fire down a long boulevard, they are taken by surprise by a tragic mistake of war. What happens next will haunt Clarence to the modern day, drawing him back to Cologne to do the unthinkable: to face his enemy, one last time.


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From the author of the international bestseller A Higher Call comes the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy. When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner’s seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gen From the author of the international bestseller A Higher Call comes the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy. When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner’s seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gentle giant from Pennsylvania has a hidden talent: He’s a natural-born shooter. At first, Clarence and his fellow crews in the legendary 3rd Armored Division—“Spearhead”—thought their tanks were invincible. Then they met the German Panther, with a gun so murderous it could shoot through one Sherman and into the next. Soon a pattern emerged: The lead tank always gets hit. After Clarence sees his friends cut down breaching the West Wall and holding the line in the Battle of the Bulge, he and his crew are given a weapon with the power to avenge their fallen brothers: the Pershing, a state-of-the-art “super tank,” one of twenty in the European theater. But with it comes a harrowing new responsibility: Now they will spearhead every attack. That’s how Clarence, the corporal from coal country, finds himself leading the U.S. Army into its largest urban battle of the European war, the fight for Cologne, the “Fortress City” of Germany. Battling through the ruins, Clarence will engage the fearsome Panther in a duel immortalized by an army cameraman. And he will square off with Gustav Schaefer, a teenager behind the trigger in a Panzer IV tank, whose crew has been sent on a suicide mission to stop the Americans. As Clarence and Gustav trade fire down a long boulevard, they are taken by surprise by a tragic mistake of war. What happens next will haunt Clarence to the modern day, drawing him back to Cologne to do the unthinkable: to face his enemy, one last time.

30 review for Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives In World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    Having just finished Adam Mako's latest WW2 book; Spearhead I wanted a bit of time to collect my thoughts before trying to write a review. This is an excellent book of soldiers at war, a tankers eye-view of the conflict through his periscope or his gun sight. Adam Makos has decided to tell the story from the perspective of one US Army tank crew that fought it’s way through France and into Germany at war's end. Not only do we follow the deadly combat of this tank crew but we also get to follow th Having just finished Adam Mako's latest WW2 book; Spearhead I wanted a bit of time to collect my thoughts before trying to write a review. This is an excellent book of soldiers at war, a tankers eye-view of the conflict through his periscope or his gun sight. Adam Makos has decided to tell the story from the perspective of one US Army tank crew that fought it’s way through France and into Germany at war's end. Not only do we follow the deadly combat of this tank crew but we also get to follow their buddies in the legendary 3rd Armored Division —“Spearhead”. Not only crews that manned the M4 Sherman tanks but also the armoured infantrymen attached to the Division and also their opponents, the German soldiers who crewed their deadliest foe, the German Panther and Tiger tanks. At the same time we get to follow the story of the introduction of the American tank designed to combat the superior German tanks in the European theatre, the M 26 Pershing tank. This tank performed so well that it and its crew ended up spearheading every advance into the heart of Nazi Germany. What amazed me when reading this book was the every-day courage of the American crews in mounting their M4 Sherman tanks in the knowledge not only were they usually outgunned by the German high velocity 75mm and 88mm guns, but their own 75mm gun lacked the penetrating power to destroy their adversaries in most cases. The book highlights the bravery of these men as they clambered into their tanks, closed down their hatches and advanced into combat only to be knocked out by their German counterparts. If they survived being ‘brewed’ up they were usually allocated to another crew or provided another tank and off they went again, only for their tank to hit and destroyed again. Some men did this not once or twice, but three, four or even fives times till their luck finally ran out. The accounts of the combats fought by 3rd Armored Division in its drive into Germany were gripping and fast paced and I was really hooked on the narrative. I couldn’t drag myself away from the story and I really felt saddened on reading about the death of a crewmember or infantry soldier that I had been following through the story. This is a great book of soldiers at war and how they tried to cope during combat and after, when peace finally settled on the world. It takes you down to the pit of war and away from the abstract and faceless strategic accounts with pins on maps and arrows showing advance and retreat. This is a story that should be read to remind us again what these men endured and suffered on behalf of their country.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    I read this historical gem free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine; it’s among the top ten percent of the military histories I have read, and it’s one of the few that I have recommended to friends and relatives. Makos’s introduction tells us what he has done to lay his groundwork, and it’s impressive: "We traversed the battlefields of the Third Reich—with the men who made history…in 2013. Clarence Smoyer and three other veterans traveled to Germany and allowed us to tag a I read this historical gem free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine; it’s among the top ten percent of the military histories I have read, and it’s one of the few that I have recommended to friends and relatives. Makos’s introduction tells us what he has done to lay his groundwork, and it’s impressive: "We traversed the battlefields of the Third Reich—with the men who made history…in 2013. Clarence Smoyer and three other veterans traveled to Germany and allowed us to tag along, to interview them on the grounds where they had once fought. We recorded their stories. We recorded what they remembered saying and hearing others say. Then we verified their accounts with deep research. We drew from four archives in America and one in England. We even traveled to the German Bundesarchiv in the Black Forest in search of answers. And what we found was staggering. Original orders. Rare interviews between our heroes and war reporters, conducted while the battle was raging. Radio logs of our tank commanders’ chatter, allowing us to time their actions to the minute… Is the world ready for a book about tanks? There’s one way to find out. Shut the hatches. Tighten your chin strap. It’s time to roll out.” Spearhead is equal parts memoir and history, and Makos is known for using a “You are there” writing style, though he is new to me. He writes about the most riveting parts of their service there, and though each of these four men starts the war in a different place, at the end they are joined together when they reach Cologne. The congenial narrative is enhanced with photographs of the men then and now, along with pictures of other men they served with, some of whom made it out alive as well as many that didn’t, or who survived the war but emerged crippled. There is a great deal of comfort, when reading a tale that must include so much carnage, in knowing from the get-go that Clarence Smoyers, Buck Marsh, Gustav Schaefer, Chuck Miller, and Frank Audifred will survive. There are a lot of names and faces, and here I was grateful to be reading digitally on Kindle, because I could use the “search book” feature to help me keep track of the many people featured. There are some poignant moments; after all, they were really just kids. Sometimes they made it through battle because their commanders made wise decisions; sometimes they lived on in spite of incompetent or negligent commanders; and sometimes they found themselves in command. I never knew much about how tanks are operated. I believed that the guy whose head sometimes pokes up out of the hatch was the driver; that’s not so. And I had never given any thought to where the tankers sleep at night, or where they go to the bathroom. And the scandalous lack of safety for the men in Sherman tanks wasn’t clear to me till I read that the British called the Sherman the “Tommy cooker,” the free Poles named it a “burning grave,” and Americans called it a “crematorium on wheels.” Ultimately this made it into the press when journalist Ann Stringer reprinted the comment that “Our tanks are not worth a drop of water on a hot stove.” The Pershing tank would be a tremendous improvement, and would be largely responsible for keeping our veterans alive to tell about it. There are some amazing high-tech photographs and diagrams that were unavailable during this conflict; I went back to them several times as I became more acquainted with the lives of the men inside them. The maps could be better, but then you can’t have everything. For those interested in World War II military history, or for those that read war memoirs, Spearhead is hard to beat. You can also visit the author’s website at AdamMakos.com. This book will be available to the public February 12, 2019. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    The vast majority of histories concerning wars or campaigns within wars are about the "Big Picture". These histories are about the major players, the strategies, and tactics and the luck or lack thereof that occurs during these conflicts. All of this is of course important or they wouldn't be given the lion's share of attention. However, these things are not the entire story or picture. Without the common soldier, sailor, or airman that has to do the actual fighting there is no "Big Picture" and The vast majority of histories concerning wars or campaigns within wars are about the "Big Picture". These histories are about the major players, the strategies, and tactics and the luck or lack thereof that occurs during these conflicts. All of this is of course important or they wouldn't be given the lion's share of attention. However, these things are not the entire story or picture. Without the common soldier, sailor, or airman that has to do the actual fighting there is no "Big Picture" and none of the major players are of any importance. This book is about a group of those men asked to do the fighting, they are the men of Third Armored Division during WWII. Adam Makos seems to be specializing in stories about the average man called upon to fight the wars he had no say in starting but is one of the tools needed to bring it to a successful conclusion. I have read Makos' book about the Marines in the South Pacific during WWII and was quite moved by it. This book is no different and I am sorely tempted to give it a 5 star rating as it is that good. While the book is a history of the Third Armored Division it focuses primarily on one tank crew and what they endured during their push across Europe. What is even better is that the author was able to also include the story of a German soldier that was part of the tank crew that opposed the author's protagonists. While the conditions under which these two sides fought were decidedly different their personal fighting experiences, their hopes, dreams, gripes, and emotions were remarkably similar. The author does a wonderful job of letting us see the futility and senselessness of war by viewing it through the eyes of the men forced into a fight they didn't ask for against an enemy that wants to survive and go home just as much as everybody else on the battlefield. This is a book that puts the history and the "Big Picture" aside and shows the reader the reality of this conflict. When you read about these men you will share their fear, their discomfort, their pain, their sorrows, their frustrations, their hopelessness, and their despair. The author also follows a few of these men into the decades following the war and I found this to be the most moving segment of their story. Hell, this book does deserve that 5th star.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    This is a well-written and well-researched WW2 history book that I kept stalling on, at repeated scenes of graphic gore. Such as, an unfortunate lieutenant, killed within a few hours of taking his new posting in a tank platoon, with his brain matter splattered all over the inside of the tank. The Army’s wise policy was to transfer surviving crew members to a different tank. Or a crack sniper who followed up on a shot, to find his victim messily dying among his buddies in a cellar. "In his rush t This is a well-written and well-researched WW2 history book that I kept stalling on, at repeated scenes of graphic gore. Such as, an unfortunate lieutenant, killed within a few hours of taking his new posting in a tank platoon, with his brain matter splattered all over the inside of the tank. The Army’s wise policy was to transfer surviving crew members to a different tank. Or a crack sniper who followed up on a shot, to find his victim messily dying among his buddies in a cellar. "In his rush to become a veteran, he’d overlooked the downside: war is an ugly business to be good at.” The book is set in late 1944 and 1945, and the German soldiers knew they had already lost the war, and surrendered in increasing numbers as time went on. Which made the fatalities (on both sides) even sadder. Makos does a nice job of drawing the German soldiers and civilians as ordinary people caught in an awful situation, which kept getting worse. The Americans had the big advantage of being on the winning side, but that doesn’t help much when the guy next to you is messily killed. You can see why so many combat veterans don’t like to talk about their war, afterwards. One of the veterans, when asked by school kids how many Germans he killed, answers that he wishes that the number had been zero. So I suppose it’s a sign of Makos’s writing skills, that he can make combat deaths some seven decades ago so vivid. And yes, I appreciate that War is Hell, and I’m grateful to the men who won it. But the squick factor had gotten too much for me. I was on the point of abandoning the book — but decided to give it one more shot, and I’m glad I did. The second half is less gory, and more optimistic, than the first. There’s a German tank commander who stops German troops from murdering American POWs. And, in a remarkable turnabout, one of the Americans he saved keeps the German from being shot by an angry American tanker, after a later battle. Clarence, the titular tank gunner, meets his German counterpart in Cologne many years later. Clarence has had bad dreams for years, about a young woman who was killed during a tank battle in 1945. The German tanker tells him that he shot at her car too, Gustav tells Clarence, it was war. It’s in the nature of things. Later, they both lay flowers on her grave. Rave review @ WSJ, that led me to read it: https://www.wsj.com/articles/spearhea... (paywalled) As always, I'm happy to email you a copy if you don't subscribe. Excerpt: "The story’s everyman is Clarence Smoyer, a 21-year-old gun loader assigned to the Third Armored Division’s Easy Company. The mild-mannered Pennsylvanian seems destined to become a name, rank and serial number on a soon-forgotten casualty list, but Mr. Smoyer (whom Mr. Makos interviewed extensively for the book) discovers an unusual gift: He is a crack shot with a tank cannon. Promoted to gunner, though never formally trained as one, he also has a knack for unorthodox gun tactics when his crew faces steep odds. . . . . . “Spearhead” unfolds as a thoroughly enjoyable battle story, and a tribute to the everyman warrior."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    Tight AF tank fights. FUK YEAH!!!! And one other thing: The book does a great job personalizing the events from the perspective of the actual people who fought on both sides of the frontline. The author met the surviving American and German veterans and even accompanied them in a truly touching and meaningful reunion at the actual site in Cologne where they fought 60 some years prior. The sacrifices these men made, countered by their profound sense of personal responsibility meant that they carried Tight AF tank fights. FUK YEAH!!!! And one other thing: The book does a great job personalizing the events from the perspective of the actual people who fought on both sides of the frontline. The author met the surviving American and German veterans and even accompanied them in a truly touching and meaningful reunion at the actual site in Cologne where they fought 60 some years prior. The sacrifices these men made, countered by their profound sense of personal responsibility meant that they carried their experience of the war into the rest of their lives. For them, the war wasn’t a game or a movie, it was messy and real. And they had to live with the residue of their choices and the consequences for the rest of their lives. The final chapter describes an actual reconciliation between two former combatants who met at the end of their lives, to share responsibility, honor the dead, pay their respects to one another, and to put their grief and trauma to rest in the past. I originally gave the book 4 stars. Why only 4 stars? Because I don’t think it’s as good as band of brothers. Which I really really really loved. Mostly because of the miniseries which I have watched over and over, but the book is amazing too. But after giving it some thought, I’m bumping it up to 5 stars. Mostly because the last chapter helped me remember that these were actual people, not characters in a Spielberg film, and it feels really wrong to judge this thing based purely on its entertainment value and literary merits. The closest I’ll ever come to fighting a war is a book, movie or game. And these actual people are the reason why that is. So five shiny fucking stars🌟 And one big thank you to all of the people who went and did that, so that I could live in safety, prosperity and freedom, and so I could experience these world changing events from the absolute comfort of my couch.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sweetwilliam

    This is a fast paced memoir filled with non-stop action. I was entertained from the first chapter to the last and there wasn’t a moment of downtime. During the day, I couldn’t wait for night time so I could get back to the book. For me, this is a WWII, European theater version of “With the Old Breed.” It is a history of Eagle Company of the Third Armor Division nicknamed “Spearhead” because 3rd Armor and their death traps (also known as Sherman tanks) were the tip of the spear as the Allies raced This is a fast paced memoir filled with non-stop action. I was entertained from the first chapter to the last and there wasn’t a moment of downtime. During the day, I couldn’t wait for night time so I could get back to the book. For me, this is a WWII, European theater version of “With the Old Breed.” It is a history of Eagle Company of the Third Armor Division nicknamed “Spearhead” because 3rd Armor and their death traps (also known as Sherman tanks) were the tip of the spear as the Allies raced across Western Europe to put an end to Nazi tyranny. Join tank gunner Clarence Smoyer, Chuck Miller, Buck and other Americans as they defy all odds trying to survive till wars end. The author, Adam Makos, uses a technique that he has successfully used in the past, where he builds a story around an actual event. This time it is famous footage of a tank battle in Cologne Germany where a Pershing out-duels a Panther and in the same film reel, machine guns mistakenly fire on two innocent German civilians driving in a car that happened into harm’s way. Adam Makos interviews the men in opposing tanks and tells their backstories. The technique really works and I was moved. Even without the war footage (and there most truly is) this would still be a five star read. Along the way, the reader gets to meet Gustav Schafer, a member of a Panzar Division known as the Firemen of the West. During the battle for Cologne, Gustav was in a Mark IV hiding behind a building waiting to spring a trap on Clarence Moyer’s Pershing tank. Both Clarence and Gustav fired into the civilian car and had to live with the nightmares and guilt of the collateral damage they caused for the rest of their lives This book has everything. What was it like to be in a Sherman facing Panthers? What was it like to be in a Pershing? What was it like to be a scout in the supporting infantry? What was it like to be the lead tank? What was it like to be a German fighting for a lost cause? How did the soldiers interact with civilians? How about anti-fraternization? How did this peculiar policy impact our heroes during their down time? What was it like to surrender and almost be put to death for sins of another? All this and more are contained in the margins of this book. For those of you that enjoy the where are they now segment in the epilogue, you will be happy to know that this book actually arranges for a meeting of the combatants on the old battlefield of Cologne. This book reads like a novel and I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend it. This was so good I plan to reread it at once. I will also read Death Traps because Clarence Smoyer mentioned the book twice during an interview that I saw on the Web. The author of that book was also in the 3rd Armored Division. Read Spearhead and thank your lucky stars that you never had to face a German tank in an outgunned and under-armored Sherman tank. Thank God this was left instead to the greatest generation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    JD

    Another great book by Adam Makos (the best story-teller of the last few years). The story follows the young men from both American and German armored units across the European battlefields, culminating in the battle of Cologne where their stories meet. Makos introduces each character nicely into the story. and each one brings richness to the story. The author's description of everything is vivid and he really takes you along for the ride in the armored wagons of the Spearhead Division. Great sto Another great book by Adam Makos (the best story-teller of the last few years). The story follows the young men from both American and German armored units across the European battlefields, culminating in the battle of Cologne where their stories meet. Makos introduces each character nicely into the story. and each one brings richness to the story. The author's description of everything is vivid and he really takes you along for the ride in the armored wagons of the Spearhead Division. Great story and I cannot wait for his next book!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    James

    First, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been unduly influenced in any way. Summary: The description provided by the publisher states that Spearhead is "the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy." They could not be more accurate and succinct. Initial Thoughts: I like Adam First, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been unduly influenced in any way. Summary: The description provided by the publisher states that Spearhead is "the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy." They could not be more accurate and succinct. Initial Thoughts: I like Adam. I have read two of his other works and must admit that seeing his name as the author was enough for me to get excited. If you have read and enjoyed any of his previous works, you will enjoy Spearhead. With that disclosure of a minor man-crush, I must admit that I had little desire to read about a tank gunner, even with my strong fascination with world war 2. Review: Clarance, the gunner we follow, is an amazing character and Adam does an excellent job of bringing the realities of the situations faced by Clarance to life. The fear, the loss of friends, the cold and the suffering were all well presented. The story and the other characters, the men Clarance served with, were equally fascinating and by the time the book was over I was invested enough that I wanted to know what happened to those who survived. I probably should have paid more attention to the full description from the publisher before I read the book because when the war ends in the book there is still a fair amount of reading left to do. When I got to the end of the war, I thought to myself "what a great war story, why are there so many pages left?". Little did I know that the most powerful part of the story was yet to come. The heart of the story and what really makes this book special is what happened after the war. I won't spoil it for you, but I am always amazed at how great the greatest generation is and was. And I am grateful for authors like Adam who do their best to bring history and humanity to life. I don't want to tell you about the story, I want you to read the words as written by Adam. It will be worth it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Through a Goordreads giveaway I had the opportunity to read Adam Mako’s, Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II. It is understood, but not required that upon winning a free copy a reader should post their honest review. In this case it is an easy assignment. It has been a long time since I was able, indeed compelled to read almost 400 pages in three days. It is that absorbing. Author, and historian Makos sought out, interviewed the people who were Through a Goordreads giveaway I had the opportunity to read Adam Mako’s, Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II. It is understood, but not required that upon winning a free copy a reader should post their honest review. In this case it is an easy assignment. It has been a long time since I was able, indeed compelled to read almost 400 pages in three days. It is that absorbing. Author, and historian Makos sought out, interviewed the people who were there and reinforced his findings with a plethora of contemporary records. He even had time stamped radio broadcasts and in a climactic moment, live action battle field film. There may be some minor point where a claim is made about the color or caliber of some weapon or the exact deployment of a unit. Get over it. This is not a study of the battle field. This is a series of first-person recollections of what it was like in a tank or on the ground at the fighting front of armored warfare. No doubt some reviewers are going to claim they could feel the freezing cold of the Ardennes or the constant jarring and bumping that goes with riding in a tank for hours at a time. The one thing I most defiantly came to believe is that those who were there know. The best the rest of us can do is lend support. Battle damage does not end with the last shots fired. They include the pressure to perform at life or death levels while time seems to be a tool of the enemy. There are also decisions anyone with a target in sight has to decide and decide knowing they will he haunted by that decision. War is not an excuse to be an animal. War may favor the animal, but it will extract a price for those who delay facing what a decision might mean about that person. Several absolute rules of tank fighting are taught over and over. Stay buttoned up. Do not be first in line. Shoot first. All very easy to say and all made clear by casualties. And none takes precedence over the need to lead, and to get the job done. For most of the book tank Gunner Clarence Smoyer and his division, the Spearhead Division of Patton’s Army was fighting in a tank that was past its prime and fatally inferior. Of it the Germany claimed that “German tanks were better than 10 of the American’s. But the US Army always had 11”. In explaining the relative success of his division, Maj. General Rose explained that he had better artillery coordination, better air cover and men who would crawl out of a battle-damaged tank and into another one. It must be said. Nothing in this book is about glorious war. Spearhead is entirely about what if felt like and how people had to deal. No one, on the lines, civilians, German or American felt they were doing more than surviving and getting done whatever got them to tomorrow. Whoever or why ever wars start, it is people who fight them. The burden is arbitrarily distributed. There is nothing more important for a reader to understand than that the decision to start, or fight a war will mean that evil, hard, ugly things will happen. Lots of it. If the decision has to be made, we are under a communal obligation to make damn sure this is a price we, as a society, are willing to impose. That said, if you can read the last two chapters and not feel some emotions; the kindest thing I can say is that you have missed the point of the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Pokin

    FINISHED READING SPEARHEAD: FIVE STARS Two weeks ago at the book signing in downtown Denver, I met the author and the WWII veteran featured in this amazing book. 9News advertised the book signing and invited everyone to come to Union station to meet Clarence and the author - so I went. I am honored and proud that I was able to shake hands with both these men - and give the author one of my bookmarks. I bought a copy of the book there, had it signed, and just finished reading it today. Spearh FINISHED READING SPEARHEAD: FIVE STARS Two weeks ago at the book signing in downtown Denver, I met the author and the WWII veteran featured in this amazing book. 9News advertised the book signing and invited everyone to come to Union station to meet Clarence and the author - so I went. I am honored and proud that I was able to shake hands with both these men - and give the author one of my bookmarks. I bought a copy of the book there, had it signed, and just finished reading it today. Spearhead is an astounding true story, brilliantly written by a genius author. I cried a couple in the beginning and middle of the read and I cried twice more at the end. I wish I had read the book before meeting Clarence and the author so that I could have known the true brilliance of the author's writing and the heroism of this amazing man named Clarence. I am better for having read this book. We should NOT forget WWII and the lives that were given. The passing of time should not be allowed to diminish the extreme importance of things that have come and gone. This book shows the American soldier's POV and also the German's: Clarence was haunted by the memory of a civilian who was killed by tank fire in Cologne Germany during the war - it was all caught on tape. Clarence found the footage just sixteen years ago and saw that a young German woman had been shot during the battle when him and a German tank were fighting. This book takes you through the war and all the way up to went Clarence saw that footage - sixty years AFTER WWII - and began suffering with PTSD and depression. Clarence is a good man, and so was the German soldier (Gustav) in the tank fighting him. Read the book; I implore you.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Grant Masson

    Spearhead honors an unsung hero of World War II, Clarence Smoyers, who deplored violence but became the gunner of one of the first Pershing tanks in the European Theater, spearheading the American invasion of Germany. Smoyers's story is a powerful evocation of the lives and challenges of the 'tankers', so critical to the war effort, as well as of German civilians caught up in the conflict. The book leaves nothing to the imagination and tells the details of horrible injuries and deaths that our A Spearhead honors an unsung hero of World War II, Clarence Smoyers, who deplored violence but became the gunner of one of the first Pershing tanks in the European Theater, spearheading the American invasion of Germany. Smoyers's story is a powerful evocation of the lives and challenges of the 'tankers', so critical to the war effort, as well as of German civilians caught up in the conflict. The book leaves nothing to the imagination and tells the details of horrible injuries and deaths that our American tankers experienced! The book is a riveting read and is a cross between a novel and actual military historical text. I love the book SO much and was very happy to receive this as a Goodreads giveaway winner. As an American History teacher in high school the details and research in the book give me new ideas for projects in the classroom and new knowledge of armor, vehicles, places, and how life was for a soldier and tanker during this war. We owe so much to these men who sacrificed so that we can all sit back safe in our homes and read this superbly written book. I highly recommend this book for history buffs, it is wonderful!

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Lubin

    Adam Makos has done an incredible job of tracking down aging WW 2 veterans like Clarence Smoyer and Gustav Schaefer and putting together what each was doing and thinking during moments when they were trying to kill each other in order to survive. Since my father in law had been a tank driver during WW 2, I had a little background of what he went through as a skinny 20 year old handling a Sherman tank. He told me he had to stand up in the seat to depress the clutch, how cramped the inside of the Adam Makos has done an incredible job of tracking down aging WW 2 veterans like Clarence Smoyer and Gustav Schaefer and putting together what each was doing and thinking during moments when they were trying to kill each other in order to survive. Since my father in law had been a tank driver during WW 2, I had a little background of what he went through as a skinny 20 year old handling a Sherman tank. He told me he had to stand up in the seat to depress the clutch, how cramped the inside of the tank was, how it had to hold not only the men but their battle gear and how the only blessing he had during the Battle of the Bulge was the fact that the tank was warm inside when it was running. He told me about his gunner from Tennessee who could hit anything he aimed at and how often they saw their shells ricochet off the German tanks. This book verifies so much of what he told me and is well worth the time to read. A very moving conclusion is an added bonus.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tony Hedrick

    Overall this is a well-researched book that makes good on the author’s promise of making the reader feel as if they are almost there in the turret. The thing that makes this a great book that deserves five stars is that Mr. Makos included the final two chapters. Living and dealing with the mental wounds from war is the greatest battle for many combat veterans and is, unfortunately, often left out. I will highly recommend this book to my brother and sisters in arms.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Tank versus tank! Pershing versus Panther! And caught on film? No, this is not a war movie, rather this is a World War II tale worth making into a movie. Adam Makos met with Clarence Smoyer in 2012 and that launched a journey that led to this book. Clarence Smoyer was a tank gunner in the 3rd Armored Division lead by General Rose. He came ashore in France 3 weeks after D-Day as a loader and was promoted to gunner in a Sherman tank in August. As the book opens, the 3rd Armored Division was laying Tank versus tank! Pershing versus Panther! And caught on film? No, this is not a war movie, rather this is a World War II tale worth making into a movie. Adam Makos met with Clarence Smoyer in 2012 and that launched a journey that led to this book. Clarence Smoyer was a tank gunner in the 3rd Armored Division lead by General Rose. He came ashore in France 3 weeks after D-Day as a loader and was promoted to gunner in a Sherman tank in August. As the book opens, the 3rd Armored Division was laying an ambush for the German army trying to escape France at Mons, Belgium. A German tank pulled in next to Clarence's tank during the night and the fight was on. The fight continued through the Battle of the Bulge, receiving a Pershing, the conquest of Cologne which included a one on one between a Panther and a Pershing, and the attack at Paderborn against the German Panzer Training Cadre. But this is not just the tale of Clarence and his exploits. It is also the tale of Gustav Schaefer (German tank crewman), Buck Marsh (infantry scout in 3rd Armored Division), and Chuck Miller (officer from 3rd Armored Division). Their stories are entwined with Clarence during the war and afterwards when in 2013 all four met in Cologne, Germany, to discuss what happened there and the influence that had on their lives since. In Spearhead, Adam Markos delivers a well written World War II account of action from the 3rd Armored Division illustrated with pictures of the participants and maps of the battles. the author also researched the details given by the individuals to verify details. A very interesting read! Thanks Netgalley for the opportunity to read this title!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    I am convinced Adam Makos has another blockbuster on his hands!!! It was simply spectacular! I am also really glad I had the opportunity to see the trailer before the book arrived … I felt as if I knew Clarence already. The author made this frightening time of history so easy to follow and understand … which will make it all the more readable to those of us (and I know there will be many) who know nothing of tank warfare (and never really thought it would ever be anything that could possibly be I am convinced Adam Makos has another blockbuster on his hands!!! It was simply spectacular! I am also really glad I had the opportunity to see the trailer before the book arrived … I felt as if I knew Clarence already. The author made this frightening time of history so easy to follow and understand … which will make it all the more readable to those of us (and I know there will be many) who know nothing of tank warfare (and never really thought it would ever be anything that could possibly be interesting about it)! I was fascinated from beginning to end. I do not know how Adam Makos is able to come up with not just one (Higher Call), then two (Devotion), now THREE (Spearhead) incredible pieces of history that have and will continue to fascinate everyone! I can’t wait until "Spearhead" is published so that I can hand-sell it to my customers … it will not be difficult, given his reputation!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

    I loved the history, the details and I learned a lot reading it. I also developed a stronger appreciation for those who fought the Axis in WWII. Although a little tech-y and hard to fully comprehend at times, it was a phenomenal book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ian Pickard

    Adam Makos is a fantastic author. Another great WWII story captured in a personal way that brings you right into the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Anderson

    Amazing story by one of my favorite authors. I love how Adam Makos makes these stories come alive and brings a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made during this time in history.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Babbs

    If ever a book called to me, this was it. My Dad was in the US Army and I was born at the Fort Knox base while he was stationed there in the late 1970's to early 1980's. He also worked specifically with tanks as part of a rapid deployment armored division. Two of my best friends happen to be German, and live in the city of Cologne (Köln), so I've been fortunate enough not only to visit Cologne several times, but to see a large portion of Germany through the years. The addition of pictures throug If ever a book called to me, this was it. My Dad was in the US Army and I was born at the Fort Knox base while he was stationed there in the late 1970's to early 1980's. He also worked specifically with tanks as part of a rapid deployment armored division. Two of my best friends happen to be German, and live in the city of Cologne (Köln), so I've been fortunate enough not only to visit Cologne several times, but to see a large portion of Germany through the years. The addition of pictures throughout the book, as well as maps to better understand the terrain helped to visualize the story. We follow a core group of individuals after D-day through the end of the war. Most of the accounts are from the American perspective, but we do get two German narratives. It took me a little while to get into the writing style, which is based on interviews of veterans and supplemented with other accounts, and news footage as well as articles. My personal enjoyment of this book is probably colored by my connection to the topic and locations, but I liked it well enough that I purchased a second copy to send to my Dad, who also enjoyed it. It was great to hear how his role as a tank commander paralleled some of what I read, and the explanation given in the book helped me to better understand what that role actually meant.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    First off - full disclosure - I received this book in a GR Giveaway and am grateful for the chance to review it. In sum, I liked this book - not as much as his "A Higher Call" - but liked it just the same. Makos' schtick seems to be to tell a very engaging war story and to tie together characters from both sides of the conflict at some point. He weaved that tale wonderfully in "A Higher Call," but falls a bit short here. For my taste, the first half of "Spearhead" has a bit too much made-up dial First off - full disclosure - I received this book in a GR Giveaway and am grateful for the chance to review it. In sum, I liked this book - not as much as his "A Higher Call" - but liked it just the same. Makos' schtick seems to be to tell a very engaging war story and to tie together characters from both sides of the conflict at some point. He weaved that tale wonderfully in "A Higher Call," but falls a bit short here. For my taste, the first half of "Spearhead" has a bit too much made-up dialogue, but the author stopped that after awhile so the distraction ended. I feel the tale would have worked just fine without the forced re-connection of the opposing characters at the end - it just seemed a bit too contrived. As a pure and straightforward tank story, this tale was very interesting ... it is a bit like Brad Pitt's movie FURY. Makos sure knows how to tell a story and he does that very nicely here. We learn a bit about tanks and the prevailing tank situation in WWII, and we learn a bit about the characters in this particular tank. All-in-all this was a nice tale, and a well-told one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zerlinna Teague

    "The guard approached Gustav and told him that he could visit the chow line. Gustav didn't understand. 'Everyone gets the same tonight,' the guard said--commander's orders." "Tell Clarence, in the next life, we will be comrades." Wow! This book left me speechless. I want to start by saying that my grandfather was in the 3rd Armored Division during WWII, and I felt like I got to know him a little better by reading this book. Sadly, he died back in 2001, and not surprisingly, he didn't talk much abou "The guard approached Gustav and told him that he could visit the chow line. Gustav didn't understand. 'Everyone gets the same tonight,' the guard said--commander's orders." "Tell Clarence, in the next life, we will be comrades." Wow! This book left me speechless. I want to start by saying that my grandfather was in the 3rd Armored Division during WWII, and I felt like I got to know him a little better by reading this book. Sadly, he died back in 2001, and not surprisingly, he didn't talk much about the war. I'm so thankful that Clarence was brave enough to tell his story for all of us that are curious to know what it was like to fight all those years ago. And thank you to Adam Makos for being willing to write it. I don't really know what else to say. Like I said, I'm speechless. A really good read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you net galley for the advance read copy of this novel. This was an excellent job fiction account of tank warfare towards the end of WWII. This is not my typical genre but I very much enjoyed this book. It read like an action film rather than just facts and figures of who did what when. I highly recommend this for history buffs and for my fellow historical fiction readers. Well written, face paced and emotionally rewarding!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tim Yearneau

    Exceptional book. I read it in like 4 days. I couldn't put it down. What I liked is Makos sticks to the story, keeps it rolling, and doesn't slow down the story with too many details. Enough details to keep the story relevant and interesting, but doesn't slow it down. An emotional connection is made with the main characters. And the hell that is war comes through loud and clear. An exceptional read. Exceptional book. I read it in like 4 days. I couldn't put it down. What I liked is Makos sticks to the story, keeps it rolling, and doesn't slow down the story with too many details. Enough details to keep the story relevant and interesting, but doesn't slow it down. An emotional connection is made with the main characters. And the hell that is war comes through loud and clear. An exceptional read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    Incredible story - Despite being a history major, I had never read much about the experience of the men fighting in tanks during World War 2. This books gives excellent insight into their (harrowing) experience while telling one man’s story of bravery, regret, and redemption.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charles Darlage

    A fantastic read. Really gives you a feel for what it was like in a tank during WWII, for both sides. Great photos and there is video from WWII that documents one of the dramatic tank battles documented in this book. One I will definitely read again at some point.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Bought this for my Father in law birthday. Which he loved as it reminded him of his buddy and cousin who fought in a WW2 tank. I am reminded of how lucky i am and how I should have nothing to ever complain about. The people who survived in this book only did it by the grace of god.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John

    Excellent book. It follows a few U.S. tanks as well as some infantry through Belgium and Germany. The author also bring in a few Germans, both military and civilian. Good number of maps and photos are a bonus. The best part is the writing. Often these combat stories can be too factual and very dry, but this book reads like an exciting novel. Well worth reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Quesenberrys

    I saw this book at Costco, bought it on a whim. Then I looked at the reviews- seems like a great book! And it was! Careful, personal account of a tanker (and a few others) who fought his way across Europe, and engaged in some memorable battles/struggles on the way. Gives you a very personal and up-close vision of life as a WWII American tanker. The book has three parts, in my mind. Part one is the battles from just after D-day, where the book starts, up to and including the Battle of the Bulge. I saw this book at Costco, bought it on a whim. Then I looked at the reviews- seems like a great book! And it was! Careful, personal account of a tanker (and a few others) who fought his way across Europe, and engaged in some memorable battles/struggles on the way. Gives you a very personal and up-close vision of life as a WWII American tanker. The book has three parts, in my mind. Part one is the battles from just after D-day, where the book starts, up to and including the Battle of the Bulge. Part two is the tank battles in and around Cologne and Paderborn. This is the climatic action of the book (personal note: the key moments of the book take place a few blocks north and west of the [Kölner Dom] Cologne Cathedral, a few blocks from where I once lived for 6 months—I literally walked and rode my bike over where this action happened, only 35 years later). Part three is 68 years later, with an amazing denouement of a thrilling, meaningful, and dramatic story. As far as nonfiction goes, this is about as good as it gets for “smaller” but important stories that take place within the broader context of earth-altering events like WWII. This book made you proud of humanity. This book brought hope. I think most anyone would really enjoy this read. Well, well done.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Roy R McSorley III

    Enthralling The author made me feel like I was there as an observer. I also liked the tour of the drive across Europe, reminding me of the time I spent overseas.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Jackson

    I enjoyed this book. I've read quite a few WWII histories; this one was different in that it centered around an Armored Division and specifically tank battles. The author was able to interview several survivors of a tank battalion, making the story more personal. Amazing stories of survival, death, friendships. Some great pictures in the book, including of many of the subjects of the book. Worth the read! I enjoyed this book. I've read quite a few WWII histories; this one was different in that it centered around an Armored Division and specifically tank battles. The author was able to interview several survivors of a tank battalion, making the story more personal. Amazing stories of survival, death, friendships. Some great pictures in the book, including of many of the subjects of the book. Worth the read!

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