Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Omar Nelson Bradley: America's GI General, 1893-1981, by Steven L. Ossad (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

University Press Audiobooks, August 2019 (original publication November 2017)

Omar Bradley was one of the American generals of World War II in Europe. He was, quite literally, born in a cabin his father built with his own hands. His family was rather poor for most of his childhood--there were a few years of relative prosperity when his father was a newspaper editor, ended when he died.

But when he decided to try, with little expectation of success, to seek an appointment to West Point, he became his congressman's backup appointment. And then the other, primary choice didn't pass the relatively new West Point exams,and Bradley did. He entered West Point with the class of 1915. It was an iconic origin for a man who became an important World War II general, though being a quiet, relatively shy man, with a dislike for newspaper attention, he didn't get as much press as his classmates and colleagues--who of course included Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton, among other well-known World War II names.

After the war, he got an assignment he at first found very disappointing--being the new head of the Veterans' Administration, in need of drastic overhaul to cope with both the great number of new veterans, and the greatly expanded veterans' benefits created by the GI Bill. Before his retirement, he became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a five-star general.

This is a long, in-depth, and thoughtful biography of an important general. I think Ossad greatly admires his subject, but he's not reluctant to talk about his faults as well as his strengths--or about the strengths as well as the faults of his rivals among the contentious ranks of the Allied generals of the Second World War. Bradley's faults included an unwillingness to admit to mistakes, including completely misjudging the strength of German opposition at the start of what became the Battle of the Bulge.

It's an interesting book from which I learned a lot, about Bradley and about the war, and about the reorganization and growth of the VA after the war.

The narrator, Bill Nevitt, is also excellent, clear, calm, and expressive.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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