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Library Journal Review
With his latest work, Makos (A Higher Call) follows Clarence Smoyer, a gunner with the U.S. Army's Third Armored Division, across France in the closing year of World War II. Makos offers a detailed recounting of battles, describing gory scenes of Sherman tanks hit by German Panzers, and German tanks hit by Pershing tanks. A new Pershing was given to Smoyer after multiple Sherman tanks were destroyed, killing several but sparing Smoyer. The author describes how Smoyer and his Pershing dueled with German tank commander Gustav Schraeder's Panzer. At the height of the conflict, they both fired on a speeding car, killing a grocer and his clerk trying to escape the fighting. Along with the battles and deaths of friends that haunted Smoyer, he experienced deep PTSD, although he was not diagnosed until many years later. In 2013, Smoyer met his German counterpart at the Cathedral in Cologne, where they both reflected on the demons of war. The grocer and clerk are buried next to the cathedral, and every year Smoyer puts a yellow rose on the grave. VERDICT This thorough military history is recommended for general readers and younger audiences alike.-Harry Willems, Great Bend, KS © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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.
Kirkus Book Review
An in-the-moment re-creation of the Allied breakthrough of the West Wall into Nazi Germany by a remarkable cadre of tank crewmen of the 3rd Armored Division.Based on testimony from several surviving veteransboth American and Germanmilitary writer Makos (Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice, 2015, etc.) presents the true story of this intrepid division, which Gen. Omar Bradley described as having led the endgame against the beleaguered Germans across Europe "with a serious and grim intensity." The primary hero of this tale is Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, who evolved in his tank duties from being a gunner on an aging Sherman tank, dodging superior Panthers through the fields of occupied Belgium, to commanding the first Pershing in a spectacular showdown into Cologne, Germany, in spring 1945. It was the beginning of the end for Germany in the months after the D-Day landings, and the 3rd Armored Division was leading the breakout across northern France, thus earning the name "Spearhead" Division. With illustrations and photos, Makos offers comparisons between the unpopular and outgunned Shermans and the seemingly invulnerable Panthers and Tigers. However, "a secret weapon" had just arrived from America in the form of the Pershing tank, introduced by the legendary commander Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, who led the Spearhead Division. In it, Smoyer would charge into Germany's fortress city, Cologne. However, as the author writes, "this is not a story about machines, how one tank stacked up against another. This is a story about people." Through alternating firsthand accounts by Smoyer and a German tank crewman, Makos reveals much about the German determination to thwart the Allies during the final Battle of the Bulge as well as the weary civilian population's quick turn to fraternization once the game was over.A compelling, exciting adventure of a hard-driving American force, "the first Allied unit to punch through the West Wall and to also capture a German town." Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.