At some juncture, the idea of tracking the West Point grads who
became commissioned officers in the US Army or its Air Corps on the
eve of America's entry into WW II must have seemed a good one. To a
great extent, though, the effect of the episodic log at hand is
akin to that of a hometown newspaper that duly records the
activities of local lads - and trivializes the great events in
which they play typically peripheral roles. While Yenne (co-author,
SuperFortress, 1988) struggles mightily with the material he
gathered from surviving members of the West Point class of 1941
(known as Black '41 for reasons no one can now recall), he fails to
endow the chronological narrative with either focus or
significance, much less drama. A few of his shavetails found
themselves in combat within months of pinning on second
lieutenant's bars, and several, including Alexander R. Nininger
(posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor), became
almost immediate casualties. Most, however, simply soldiered in
relative obscurity on a host of foreign fields and stateside posts.
Following the war, the still-young professionals hitched their
wagons to a star, so to speak, getting their promotional tickets
punched at the Pentagon, embassy billets, and other duty stations,
including in some cases front-line commands in Korea and Vietnam.
Only one man from the 442-strong class became a full general (the
late George S. Brown, also appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff in 1974), though a handful of others - like Edward S.
Rowny (who made a name for himself as a disarmament negotiator) and
William T. Seawell (Pan Am's sometime CEO) - achieved substantial
measures of celebrity. As a practical matter, the careers of the
author's subjects have little import. Nor does Yenna's wide-angle
yet sketchy account succeed in putting their personal odysseys into
perspectives that could shed light on the Long Grey Line's putative
commitment to duty, honor, country. (Kirkus Reviews)
Published on the 50th anniversary of America's entry into World War
II, this book follows the lives of nine of the officers from the
West Point class of 1941 as they learn how to lead their men into
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