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MILITARY BOOKS

Anton Olmstead Myrer

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Corporal Anton Olmstead Myrer, USMC, after Pearl Harbor, “like many of his college peers, sought to enroll in the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps.  Rejected by the ERC, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  Private Anton O. Myrer (service number 532715) was a member of Platoon 215, 6th Recruit Battalion.  Shipped overseas, he served with the First Provisional Brigade and participated in the invasion and occupation of Guam and the Mariannas.  He was wounded at Guam and rose to the rank of corporal before being discharged in 1946.”  After World War II, Corporal Anton Myrer returned to Harvard and graduated.

Corporal Anton Olmstead Myrer is the author of The Big War; Once an Eagle; A Green Desire; The Last Convertible; The Intruder; The Violent Shore; The Tiger Waits; and, Evil Under the Sun.

According to the book description of Once an Eagle, “America's fighting men have turned to Once an Eagle as a sourcebook for the military's core values since its publication at the height of the Vietnam War. The novel, following the careers of virtuous Sam Damon and opportunistic Courtney Massengale, is required reading for all members of the United States Marine Corps and frequently taught in leadership courses at West Point.”

 

One reader of Once an Eagle said, “Anton Myrer, a former U.S. Marine, has written the all-time greatest novel of a soldier's life of service. The protagonist, Sam Damon, was commissioned on the battlefield but never forgot his simple and honorable roots as a citizen and enlisted man. He lived a life of dedicated service, loyal to his subordinates, leaders, the Army, and the nation, and rose to two-star General officer rank. His nemesis was a West Point graduate, Courtney Massengale, who was never a soldier at heart, but merely a careerist... out for himself. On one level, these two characters provide contrasting types of military officers, one noble and self-sacrificing, and and the other obsessed with personal aggrandizement. On a more intimate level, these two characters represent the struggle within every soldier's heart between the allure of promotion and prestige, and the call to duty and humble loyalty to his men and profession. Myrer died of cancer on Robert E. Lee's birthday in January 1996. I read the book before I was commissioned at West Point in 1976 and the story stuck with me throughout my own humble 20+ year career as a constant conscience and counselor against self-promotion. This is a character-building tale.”

 

One reader of Once an Eagle said “I first read this book as a high school student in the late 1960s. Vietnam was reaching it's peak and the Armed Forces was never out of the headlines. Since that time, I've taken it down from the shelf and re-read it. I have found it of value in my military career as a reference on leadership and personalities. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest or need to know about positive and negative leadership traits. The lead character starts his military career in the desert and scrub of Mexico searching for Pancho Villa. Sam Damon is not in the branches that might have a little dash or adventure such as the cavalry or air service. He is a ground pounder in the infantry as a private who's biggest concern is learning water discipline. He moves on through ranks and gains a commission during World War I and manages to retain it following the war. The inter-war years and Damon's adjustment to both married life and military life on officers row is insightful. World War II is Damon's moment to shine; he does but not without personal costs both within his immediate family and his service family. His end is both moving and I felt, almost inevitable. This book is not a quick read, nor is it one that is good for only one time. It's value is from rereading it and learning something new each time. I highly recommend this book. My only criticism is that it is rather high priced; I wish the publisher could get it down to where more people would be able to purchase the hard bound edition and not the paperback.”

 

One reader of Once an Eagle said “You've had Total Quality Management. You've read Sun Tzu and Musashi on business as war. You've been to Outward Bound and you've undergone Team Building exercises until you're blue in the face. Now read the novel that has more to say about the qualities a real leader should have than any text written by a management guru--Anton Myrer's classic "Once an Eagle."

 

The book is a youth-to-death story of "Sad" Sam Damon, a midwestern boy who steeps himself in military history and a code of honor that requires him to step forward and take the lead in almost every situation. Myrer has tapped into a simple truth. That's what real leaders do; they lead.

 

While Sam Damon is a military hero, he's no marble monument. Myrer shows us that real world leaders are assailed with doubts, real fears, and insecurities that can lead them to cave in to expediency under extreme pressure. But in Sam Damon, Myrer shows us that true leadership can consist of recognizing your mistakes, swallowing hard, and stepping up to the plate again to do the right thing.

 

Such a strong protagonist clearly needs a strong opponent. Myrer delivers with Courtney Massengale, a supremely brilliant and ruthless adversary whose weakness, as Sam Damon realizes, is that he does not love any man. It is the byplay between these two characters that Myrer uses to telling effect in illustrating how love is a key element in leadership. I know of half a dozen executives who have patterned their management styles on Sam Damon's lessons. They are the best bosses I ever had. This is a book that should be required reading in our service academies, and as part of every MBA program and civil service exam in the country. Fortunately, it's also a wonderful read.”

 

One reader of The Last Convertible said, “Every so often, and not often enough, we find ourselves given a gift--a surprise gift. A gift of a novel, that changes the very way we look at ourselves and the world around us. Books alone seem to have that ability to transform us. The best of all are the books we don't expect to change things for us. The Last Convertible is one of those books. This book immediately takes it's place on my top ten list. I bought it because it was called "a coming of age" novel by one critic. Coming of age stories are among my favorite genres. I had just finished a nice coming of age story of the mid-90s, the Fundamentals of Play (which interestingly has a loyal narrator named George, a Currier type in Chat, and vapid Chris, with it's Kate--but this probably only interests me). A group of people who came of age in the times I had. It was good read. Myrer's Fusiliers (as the 5 men were called) were of the era of my grandparents, so I had no idea what to expect. What I found, pretty much from page one, was a story that would not let go. I finished the second half of the book in 2 days, refusing to put it down. I would read it, go out in "real world" and feel as though the characters and feelings were walking with me. These characters and times are no more--but the feelings are universal. Russ, Jean-Jean, Terry, Dal, Chris (the mysterious and ever deeping charm of Christabel), the infuriating Nancy, Ron, Peg, Irene, the sordid Kay Madden, the unforgettable Liz Payne, Amanda, and Teddy. Not to mention Dr. Mel, Opp, and the Countess. There are so many characters that flood through the years of this novel, yet they all touch you in surprising ways. And of course, the Empress--symbol and fact. Above them of all, is one of my all-time literary heroes, the seemingly ordinary George Virdon.”


The Big War
Anton Myrer  More Info

Once An Eagle
Anton Myrer  More Info
Evil Under the Sun
Anton Myrer  More Info

The Last Convertible
Anton Myrer  More Info
The intruder,: A novel of Boston
Anton Myrer  More Info

A Green Desire
Anton Myrer  More Info
The Tiger Waits
Anton Myrer  More Info

The Violent Shore
Anton Myrer  More Info

According to the book description of The Big War, “They were our husbands, our fathers, our lovers, our sons. They were Americans and Marines. And this is their story: The Big War, Anton Myrer's panoramic novel of Marines in the Pacific in World War II. This is the story of Alan Newcombe, the Boston society Harvard man; Danny Kantaylis, the natural-born leader; Jay O'Neill, the barroom scrapper. Myrer does not glorify war; he does not flinch from describing what the actual experience of warfare was like for a desperate group of Marines trapped in some of the worst fighting conditions of the war. We learn about their lives at home and their fates on the battlefield.”

 

On reader of The Big War said, “Anton Myrer has brought the truth about war into plain sight. This book should be required reading for those non-vets who are placed into positions from which they can send young people into the horrors of places like the Pacific islands in WWII and Iraq in our own time. War is criminal, and to think that our youngsters are being killed and maimed as we sit on our self-satisfied butts and watch tv is appalling. Myrer has written a clear-eyed view of what war really is, and deserves much more credit than he has received thus far.”

 

According to the book description of A Green Desire, “Two brothers, as different as night and day: one, charming and ruthless, buys his way into Harvard, Wall Street, and high society; the other brother remains by his mother's side and makes his way to the top without the influence of money or prestige. Raised in separate worlds, these brothers are bound by a bitter rivalry for riches and power, but mostly, for the exciting, wildly captivating woman they fight all their lives to possess, a woman whose passion for one destroys her love for the other. Their story consumes an American century, spanning decades of splendor, struggle, upheaval, and war. It's an absorbing saga of innocent dreams and green desire corrupted by gilded temptation.”

 

One reader of A Green Desire said it “starts with two young brothers being separated. The younger brother, Tipton, stays with his mother and a life of poverty, the older brother, Chapin, goes off with his rich aunt to live a life of privilege. It is this separation which defines them as the story progresses from 1911 to its conclusion over forty years later. The two boys grow up to be fierce rivals. They compete in business, but most of all they compete for Jophy, a beautiful woman of Portuguese descent, who is as passionate as she is desirable.

 

Tipton and Chapin resemble the main characters in Myrer's famous novel of military life, Once an Eagle. Tipton is like Sam Damon, honorable and straight, a natural leader, leading by example. Chapin is similar to Courtney Massengale, devious and cunning, selfish and amoral. But here the resemblance between these two novels stops. A Green Desire focuses on civilian life. The story passes through two world wars, but its emphasis is on the battles of civilian life. Tipton fights to get ahead and raise himself from poverty through his own efforts. Chapin fights to maintain his life of privilege and to acquire power in the world of business. To do this both have to get though the Crash and the Depression.

 

Myrer shows that he was a wonderful storyteller, because he makes this story just as exciting as his stories about the military. The characters are vivid and believable and the story is full of incident. His description of life during the Jazz Age and the Depression is full of convincing details. A Green Desire is a well-written novel, pleasant and quite easy to read. Myrer has realized that he no longer needs to use obscure words to show off his talent as a writer. Now he just shows with clear memorable sentences that, at his best, he could be a very fine writer indeed. This is a powerful and moving novel. It may well be Myrer's best.”

 

According to the book description of The Last Convertible, “Only a few times in a lifetime does a golden novel appear that captures the spirit of a generation and the heart of America. For millions of readers, that novel is The Last Convertible. This New York Times bestseller from the acclaimed author of Once an Eagle tells the story of five Harvard men, the women they loved, their coming of age through the dark days of World War II, and the elegant car that came to symbolize their romantic youth.”

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