Southern California, Yorba Linda Book Redux, a used book store, was closed because the proprietor decided to take a vacation without my permission. My wife and I drove a short distance to the Yorba Linda Public Library used books store to shop their used books. The prices are way cheaper than any used book store and the selections were pretty good. I picked up about six books. One book which I was not completely convinced I should buy was Command Decisions, published by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Military, Washington, DC. (A free version -pdf). This book attempts to write the history of the U.S. Army in World War II. During the next week I found that this book hard to put down for some really unusual reasons. On the one hand it was written in a dreary style and on the other it held a view that was very different and included information that was somewhat surprising.
Here are some of the book’s style points:
- The book was incredibly dry in the writing style.
- The book was from a command management, top down, view. The perspective is from the war planners, commanders and the reader seldom gets down to ground level to view the war action at unit level very much. Because so many movies and books are written at ground level this book was, for me, an interesting approach and part of its attraction.
- I noticed that books written near when I was born and prior were annoyingly wordy. My father even lectured me in the same manner. This book was published in1959 and followed this elder style of writing – too many words.
- Every nuance of policy change seemed to be included which also added to the slow story pace. The reader really gets an appreciation of top commanders and politicians daily workings to devise war policy because the reader is told about every policy process. This, at times, minuscule examination seemed to really slow the progression of the war story but at the same time helps the reader to understand the duties of these top war managers.
- What really captured my interest in the first chapter was some historical surprises. Not one but one after another surprise showed up in the telling of this history. The surprises varied by degree, as one would expect. Every person naturally understands a historical occurrence differently for a whole host of reasons usually out of schooling and reading. I will share with you each of my surprises that I find in this book in following posts.
Command Decisions, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Military, Washington, DC. Numerous authors contributed to writing this book.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-60007
Original copy sold by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington 25, D.C.
Hard cover, 565 pages but included maps bound to the binding and one large map in a back pocket that can be removed.
A free download copy can be obtained from this web page: http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-7-1/CMH_Pub_70-7-1.pdf
The organization that is offering this book for free is the U.S. Army Center Of Military History