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Spearhead : An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II
2019
Availability
Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
History
Topics
U.S. Army
Tank warfare
Soldiers
Battles
Setting
Pennsylvania - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
- Europe
Time Period
-- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Historian Makos (A Higher Call) draws on correspondence, secondary sources, and first-person testimony to tell the story of Cpl. Clarence Smoyer and his tank crew as they fought across Europe in the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Division, nicknamed "Spearhead," in WWII. Losses in the division were so high that tankers stopped naming their vehicles because they were destroyed so quickly. Stroyer's crew was one of only 20 to be selected to man the new, top-secret M-26 Pershing tanks, and it was in an M-26 that the most famous of Smoyer's exploits took place during the 1945 battle for Cologne: a one-on-one showdown against a formidable Panther tank, reminiscent of an American West gunfight, on the streets-all caught on film. Makos also includes the experience of the Panther's German crewman Gustav Schafer-and Smoyer and Schafer's latter-day meeting in the city square in Cologne; they walk the street where their tanks faced each other 70 years before. The tension, death, and courage that were everyday experiences for American tankers fill the pages of Makos's book. This moving story of bravery and comradeship is an important contribution to WWII history that will inform and fascinate both the general reader and the military historian. Agent: David Vigliano, AGI Vigliano Literary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, LOS ANGELES TIMES, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER * "A band of brothers in an American tank . . . Makos drops the reader back into the Pershing's turret and dials up a battle scene to rival the peak moments of Fury ."<br> -- The Wall Street Journal <br> <br> 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. <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> Praise for Spearhead <br> <br> "A detailed, gripping account . . . the remarkable story of two tank crewmen, from opposite sides of the conflict, who endure the grisly nature of tank warfare."<br> -- USA Today (four out of four stars) <br> <br> "Strong and dramatic . . . Makos established himself as a meticulous researcher who's equally adept at spinning a good old-fashioned yarn. . . . For a World War II aficionado, it will read like a dream."<br> --Associated Press
Table of Contents
Introductionp. xi
1The Gentle Giantp. 3
2Baptismp. 14
3"Bubi"p. 25
4The Fieldsp. 31
5The Forayp. 43
6Beyond the Wallp. 49
7Respitep. 58
8The Fourth Tankp. 68
9Hopep. 77
10Something Biggerp. 88
11American's Tigerp. 103
12Two Milesp. 115
13Huntingp. 137
14The Fire Department of the Westp. 143
15Going Firstp. 155
16Victory or Siberiap. 178
17The Monsterp. 201
18The Conquerorsp. 218
19The Breakoutp. 232
20The American Blitzp. 244
21The Fatherlessp. 256
22Familyp. 268
23Come Out and Fightp. 280
24The Giantp. 292
25Getting Homep. 307
26The Last Battlep. 313
Afterwordp. 337
Acknowledgmentsp. 345
Sourcesp. 349
Notesp. 351
Photo Creditsp. 383
Indexp. 387
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