Cover image for Thirteen soldiers : a personal history of Americans at war
Title:
Thirteen soldiers : a personal history of Americans at war
Author:
McCain, John, 1936- , author.
Edition:
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Physical Description:
xv, 364 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
"John McCain's ... history of Americans at war, told through the personal accounts of thirteen remarkable soldiers who fought in major military conflicts from the Revolutionary War of 1776 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan"--Amazon.com.
Language:
English
Contents:
Soldier of the Revolution -- Brothers-in-arms -- Adventure -- Touched with fire -- Fog -- A howling wilderness -- Lost, scared kids a long way from home -- Lone wolf -- Duty -- Valor -- Wounds -- The job -- Above and beyond.
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781476759654
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

As a veteran himself, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a long-time student of history, John McCain brings a distinctive perspective to this subject. Thirteen Soldiers tells the stories of real soldiers who personify valour, obedience, enterprise, and love. You'll meet Joseph Plumb Martin, who at the tender age of fifteen fought in the Revolutionary War; Charles Black, a freeborn African American sailor in the War of 1812; and Sam Chamberlain, of the Mexican American War, whose life inspired novelist Cormac McCarthy. Then there's Oliver Wendell Holmes, an aristocratic idealist disillusioned by the Civil War, and Littleton "Tony" Waller, court-martialed for refusing to massacre Filipino civilians.

Each account illustrates a particular aspect of war, such as Mary Rhoads, an Army reservist forever changed by an Iraqi scud missile attack during the Persian Gulf War, and Monica Lin Brown, a frontline medic in rural Afghanistan who saved several lives in an ambushed convoy. From their acts of self-sacrifice to their astonishing bravery, these thirteen soldiers embody the best America has to offer.


Author Notes

John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 United States presidential election. McCain retired from the Navy as a Captain in 1981. He then moved to Arizona and began a career in politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986.

McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone at Coco Solo Naval Air Station. His father, John S. McCain, Jr. was a naval officer stationed there at the time. In 1951, the family settled in Northern Virginia, and McCain attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. McCain entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1954. He fought in the Vietnam War and was a prisoner of war (POW) beginning on October 26, 1967. In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he would remain for two years. In total, McCain was a POW for five and a half years. He was released on March 14, 1973.

In 2014, McCain wrote Faith of My Fathers with Mark Salter. It became a New York Times bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Senator McCain and staffer Salter (Hard Call: Great Decisions and the People Who Made Them) deliver inspirational accounts of 13 Americans who fought in various wars. Their introduction, lauding soldiers "who went to war for our country, who risked their lives and suffered, and should not be forgotten," will warn readers what to expect. Among the choices are Joseph Martin, who wrote a Revolutionary War memoir long beloved by historians, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who barely survived the U.S. Civil War. The authors make an attempt at diversity, choosing two black representatives: Charles Black, a sailor in the War of 1812, and Edward Baker, a buffalo soldier cavalryman who fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Mary Rhoads, one of two women included, survived a catastrophic Scud missile strike during the 1991 Gulf War, while Monica Lin Brown, a medic, earned a Silver Star in Afghanistan. Incidents of racism and sexism are highlighted as they emerge in the narrative. Each chapter includes an overview of the relevant war to contextualize the soldier's story. "War is wretched beyond description," but McCain and Salter aptly reveal humanizing moments in such theaters of cruelty. Agent: Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In their sixth collaborative work, coauthors McCain and Salter (Faith of My Fathers) profile 13 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines; each from one of the 13 major conflicts in which the United States has been involved. Stories depict some aspect of wartime and combat experience, and the wide variety of characters involved makes for many fascinating accounts. Some of the subjects will be familiar to readers-Joseph Plumb Martin and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., for example. Others are not as well known, including George Roberts, an African American gunner on a War of 1812 privateer, and Mary Rhoads, an army soldier during the Gulf War. Chapters have similar structure and provide a brief introductory biography followed by descriptions of major events in that person's tale. The bulk of each section contains the history of the featured individual's engagements, pleasantly interwoven with their personal experiences. The text as a whole offers insights into life during battle; however, it comes across as a bit disjointed, seeming more a compilation of minibiographies than a work with an overriding theme. VERDICT Casual readers interested in a wide sampling of U.S. military history should enjoy this book. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]-Matthew Wayman, Pennsylvania State Univ. Lib., Schuylkill Haven (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Thirteen Soldiers INTRODUCTION EVERY MEMORIAL DAY AT ARLINGTON National Cemetery, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Brigade place small American flags at the headstones of more than three hundred thousand graves. The headstones bear the names of people of every ethnic origin. They mark the final resting places of professional soldiers and conscripts; of rich and poor; Christian, Jew, and Muslim; believer and nonbeliever; descendants of Mayflower pilgrims and immigrants who had barely arrived in the country before they took up arms to defend her; dark-skinned and white; city dwellers and people from small towns and farms; teachers and machinists; businessmen and day laborers; poets and presidents. People of impeccable character rest here. Scoundrels do too. Most were brave; some may not have been. Some of the dead were celebrated successes in their lifetimes, and some obscure failures. Many here perished in war and never had the opportunity to pursue peaceful ambitions; others died in ripe old age, rich in blessings. Some sacrificed willingly, others resentfully. But all of them sacrificed. And families from every place in America have wept at a graveside here. War might be a great leveler while it is being experienced, but the millions upon millions of Americans who have gone to war are the most diverse population the country could produce. There is no other profession in all of human endeavor as varied as the profession of arms. This book recalls the experiences of a single American soldier, sailor, airman, or marine in each of the thirteen major wars our country has fought. We did not attempt to identify the prototypical soldier. No such prototype exists. Not one of the subjects is much like the others. Rather the stories were chosen to represent a particular attribute of their service or condition in their experience of war. Obviously there is some arbitrariness at work here. The conditions illustrated are only a few features in the nature of soldiers and wars. We had only thirteen stories to tell. The intent was to write about things most soldiers in combat will have experienced or witnessed, but even then it is a very incomplete catalogue of commonly shared emotions and experiences. The subjects hail from different walks of life, though most of them had modest origins, like most soldiers today and in the past. We wanted to represent all four branches of the armed services, as the experience of war can vary from one service to another, though many sensations and situations are common to all. Many were chosen because they left accounts of their experiences that have survived to the present. Some kept diaries or wrote books or spoke publicly about their wars. A few subjects left little or no record of their service. One subject especially is mostly lost to history; we know where he served and a few incidents from his life and have tried to reconstruct his story informed by the few facts we do know and the experiences of others in the same or very similar circumstances. We were not looking for thirteen stories of supermen or superwomen. We wanted to write straightforward, honest accounts of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. All thirteen soldiers were brave and sacrificed for our country. There are Medal of Honor recipients among them, and others distinguished by high decorations for valor. Some wore no decoration more proudly than their combat infantry badge. They are not perfectly virtuous. The readers will admire some of our subjects more than others, although all have earned admiration. Soldiers come in all types, from righteous, God-fearing human beings to wantonly cruel scoundrels. None of the stories we elected to recount features a soldier who belongs in the latter category, though one of them identified himself as a rogue and possessed some less than admirable qualities. Soldiers in combat share a genuine and powerful bond, so powerful that they are willing to die for one another. The paradox that makes that bond so unique is that in their lives before war they might not have chosen to associate with each other. They might not have liked each other. They might not even like each other while they serve together, and yet they will fight for each other, and often die for each other. Every war occasions heroism and nobility. Every war has its corruptions, which is what makes it a thing worth avoiding if possible. There is compassion and savagery in these stories, terror and valor, confusion and acuity, obedience and insubordination, self-aggrandizement and humility, brotherhood and individuality, triumph and loss, and in all of them, sacrifice for something greater than self. Each of these stories is also a story of change. Rare is the soldier who is not changed by war. Some are changed for the better and some for the worse, but all are changed in some way and forever. It is a surpassing irony that war, for all its horrors, provides the combatant every conceivable human experience. Experiences that usually take a lifetime to know are all felt--and felt intensely--in one brief moment of life. Anyone who loses a loved one knows what great sorrow feels like. Anyone who gives life to a child knows what great joy feels like. The veteran knows what great joy and great loss feel like when they occur in the same moment, in the same experience. Such an experience is transforming. Some come home and struggle to recover their balance, which war had upset. For those who came home whole in spirit if not in body, civilian life will seldom threaten their equanimity. They have known the worst terrors the world holds and have seen acts of compassion and love that no evil can destroy. They have seen mankind at its most dehumanized and its most noble. No other experience will ever surpass its effect on their lives, and they can never forget it. Here are the stories of eleven men and two women who went to war for our country, who risked their lives and suffered, and should not be forgotten. Excerpted from Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War by John McCain, Mark Salter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xiii
1 Soldier of the Revolutionp. 1
2 Brothers-in-Armsp. 37
3 Adventurep. 63
4 Touched with Firep. 87
5 Fogp. 117
6 A Howling Wildernessp. 143
7 Lost, Scared Kids a Long Way from Homep. 167
8 Lone Wolfp. 193
9 Dutyp. 221
10 Valorp. 247
11 Woundsp. 271
12 The Jobp. 293
13 Above and Beyondp. 315
Afterwordp. 339
Acknowledgmentsp. 343
Selected Bibliographyp. 345
Indexp. 353

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