Once an Eagle is the story of Sam Damon, a square-jawed Nebraskan with an unerring instinct for the right thing. When the US enters the First World War shortly after he has managed to secure a place at West Point, Sam enlists as a common soldier. Through intelligence, luck, and courage he wins a commission and the Congressional Medal of Honor. Then follow his marriage to the spirited general's daughter Tommy, the long, slow, difficult interwar years, and the long, fast Hell of the Pacific Theater of World War II. Throughout, his career is paralleled by that of Courtney Massengale, a Machiavel who understands only power and disdains Sam's values of obligation, sacrifice, and love. Together, they represent opposing forces in the American military, government, and society - Sam's personal virtue against Massengale's careless self-aggrandizement.
Anton Myrer does not write with the sweep of Herman Wouk or the battlefield intensity of Harold Coyle, and, as a result, is less engaging than either. This is true despite having a length sufficient for one of Wouk's soap opera epics. One of the themes of the novel's central third is the tedium of peacetime military service - unfortunately, it proves tedious for the reader as well.
Best book written that describes what it's really like to be in a battle.
Courage, honor, horror, cowardice, self-aggrandizement...it's all in this book.
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