Called the Army's "greatest combat general" by President Truman, James Van Fleet led American and allied forces to battlefield victory during a career that spanned World War I and the Cold War.
Van Fleet was born in Coytesville, New Jersey and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1915. He was a classmate of both Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. He served as a battalion commander in World War I, as part of the American Expeditionary Force under General John J. Pershing. He coached the University of Florida football team in 1923 and 1924. Van Fleet commanded the 8th Infantry Regiment for three years and led it into combat in Europe in World War II, participating in the D-Day landings on Utah Beach in June 1944. Van Fleet was Commanding General of the U.S. Second Army from August 10, 1950 to April 11, 1951.
In this biography, a military historian who once commanded a rifle company under Van Fleet in Korea tells the legendary leader's unique story and draws parallels to the U.S. Army's history of diverse challenges met in the twentieth century. Defining the root of Van Fleet's success as devotion to his men and dedication to rigorous field training and mental conditioning, Paul Braim describes Van Fleet's ability to inspire his men with the will to win through two world wars and in the limited wars that followed. He chronicles Van Fleet's command of III Corps in its drive into the heart of Nazi Germany in World War II and his training of allied soldiers in the Cold Wars, including his development of the Greek National Army into a fighting force capable of driving off a strong communist insurgency. He tells how as commander of the Eighth Army in Korea Van Fleet applied his winning tactics so successfully within the constraints of the limited war that the South Korean Army was able to assume a major fighting role. Finally, he explains that Van Fleet was one of few senior military leaders to argue for training the Vietnamese instead of committing U.S. combat forces in Vietnam.
This tribute to an outstanding American--a poor boy from rural Florida who rose to the rank of four-star general--will fascinate everyone who enjoys reading biographies and those who like military history. It is presented in cooperation with the Association of the U.S. Army.