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Paperback Once an Eagle Book

ISBN: 0062221620

ISBN13: 9780062221629

Once an Eagle

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Book Overview

" Once an Eagle is simply the best work of fiction on leadership in print." --General Martin E. Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Required reading for West Point and Marine Corps cadets, Once An Eagle is the story of one special man, a soldier named Sam Damon, and his adversary over a lifetime, fellow officer Courtney Massengale. Damon is a professional who puts duty, honor, and the men he commands above self-interest. Massengale,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Moving Experience

When you sit down to read this book by Anton Myrer, you may realize that you are reading one of the most memorable books of your lifetime, even though I found the beginning almost a different, less polished writing style from the rest of the book. Myrer introduces us to a night clerk who has a gift for leadership and a photographic memory. He joins the infantry in time to search for a Mexican raider, with little realization that he is about to be caught up in the most turbulent decades of the century where he will succeed and also fail. Through combat, a battlefield commission and being awarded the Medal of Honor, "Sad Sam" Damon, "the night clerk," experiences the excruciating trials of war and the loss of a best friend just before war's end in 1918. Determined to learn from the lessons and losses of war, Damon prepares himself for the next one while marrying and raising a family in the peacetime army of the 20's and 30's. Courtney Massengale is his nemesis, an ambitious and heartless West Point graduate who is a veteran of many staff assignments. His personal success is more important than the lives of men, duty, honor, or country. He is always one rank ahead of Damon who is his counterweight. Massengale's ambition depends on Damon, and Damon and his troops will depend on Massengale. Thirty years of checking and blocking are put to the test as Major General Sam Damon finds himself subordinate to Corps Commander Lieutenant General Massengale who masks the real purpose of his operations order to his generals, except Damon sees what his true purpose is. Massengale is after one of the most singular achievements of the Pacific in World War II. Damon exacts a promise from him. A promise kept will save Damon's division, or if broken, be the cause of its annihilation. Will he succeed? From the pursuit of Pancho Villa to the escalation of hostilities in a small Asian country called Khotiane in the 60's, we see through Sam Damon the struggle of one man to maintain honor and loyalty, prepare his country for war, and endure the revulsion and tragedy that war brings. I have not read before or since an author who can bring the fear, and peril of battle and make it seem so threatening and so intense. You almost expect to smell the death, and feel the heartache of personal loss and grief. This is an anti-war story; it is not one of patriotism. It is a reminder that in the heat of battle, soldiers are not fighting for a cause, a flag, their honor, or pride. They are fighting for their friends and for their lives. Although I read this story thirty years ago, the characters and the story stay fresh in my mind. The book is still on my shelf, and I don't plan on parting with it for any reason. The story remains a moving experience.

A book well worth reading

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 dwon 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 charecter 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.

A must read for all those who would lead.

As a young man in a USMC commissioning program, I can say that Once an Eagle is the finest leadership lesson I have been exposed to. It should be instituted in all officer ascension programs. Unlike some of the clinical, and impersonal leadership training I have recieved, Once an Eagle humanizes leadership. Myrer artfully shows how Damon becomes a great leader. To put it simply, he cares about his men. This book has helped me clarify my goals for my future military career. The excerpt from when he is preparing for an amphibious assault is especially moving. "Sad Sam" prays: "Help me be wise and full of courage and sound judgement. Harden my heart to the sights that I must see so soon again, grant me only the power to think clearly, boldly, resolutely, no matter how unnerving the peril. Let me not fail them." I suggest reading Once an Eagle if you want to serve in the armed forces of this great land. God help us that we can all be like the "Night Clerk."

Anton Myrer's "Once an Eagle" a must-read for leaders

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.

Inspiring story of an all America soldier

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
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