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, however, brilliantly advances his career by making the right connections behind the lines and in Washington's corridors of power.
Beginning in the French countryside during the Great War, the conflict between these adversaries solidifies in the isolated garrison life marking peacetime, intensifies in the deadly Pacific jungles of World War II, and reaches its treacherous conclusion in the last major battleground of the Cold War.
A study in character and values, courage, nobility, honesty, and selflessness, here is an unforgettable story about a man who embodies the best in our nation - and in us all.
Anton Myrer (1922-1996) enlisted in the US Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor and served for three years in the Pacific. Wounded on Guam, he returned to Harvard, graduated, and began an illustrious literary career, during which he wrote such memorable novels as The Big War, The Last Convertible, and A Green Desire.
©1968, 1996 Anton Myrer (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A remarkable novel...Utterly engrossing. Myrer is a superb storyteller, one of the few gifted novelists now writing who cares about the art of narration and is a master of it...A grim, exciting, and almost overwhelming account of twentiethcentury war. It is an astute study of the mind and character of a good general and a good man. And it is a brilliant inside views of the life of a career officer in peace and war." (New York Times)
I can think of a number of military accounts, both fiction and non-fiction that I've enthused about over the course of seven decades, foremost amongst them being Remarque's "All Quiet On The Western Front", Monserrat's "The Cruel Sea", Mailer's "The Thin Red Line", Crane's "Red Badge Of Courage" and Kantor's "Andersonville".
In more recent years I've found Jeff Shaara's work, along with that of Hugh and Stephen Ambrose and, latterly, Karl Marlantes equally compelling.
Not until this week, however, have I come across a work of military fiction so engrossing and so mesmerising that I found myself - even before I'd completed the book - going back time and again to certain paragraphs or sections in order to keep the author's wonderful, sometimes distressingly so, description of one event or another in my mind.
Anton Myrer's staggeringly complex Once An Eagle is unmissable - a huge work that is apparently required reading for West Pointers and US Marine Corps officer candidates. I have it as an audiobook (unabridged and narrated over a massive 41 hours by the excellent Grover Gardner) but have ordered it in 'real time' for my bookcase.
Those who never read it will never know what they've missed!
Authenticity. A retired Officer in the US military told me that this is how it was.
The training exercise involving explosives.
It is so good in so many places. The Pacific, World War I....it is difficult to say.
If I could have, I would have....but 41 hours is too much.
Thoroughly recommended. This is not a blindly patriotic paean to the US Military. It is a well balanced critique that leaves you respectful of the individual soldier and with a deeper understanding of the fog of war.
"Just a great story"
I usually only listen to audiobooks while driving, but I found myself carrying a portable CD player around the house and patio so I could continue to listen to this story while doing projects around the house.
"One of the Most Compelling Books I Have Heard"
The character development and interaction in a realistic manner
the unexpected ending -- very dramatic.
The sense that he was enjoyig the book as he read it.
sad at time, but strong feelings for the charactrs as they develioped/
"Favorite Novel of all time"
I read the print version a decade ago but decided to listen again. I had forgotten much about Sam Damon and his journey. Listening to it in Audio was much different and thoroughly wonderful. Already knowing how the story unfolds allowed me to listen more intently to the development of the character, understand their struggles, and feel the anguish of their circumstances. The audio performance was excellent. Every American, military or not, can learn a great deal from Myrer's characters. May the Damons of the world prosper and the Massingales falter.
"A must read!"
One of the best military fiction stories out there. True tail of a hero who struggles to do the right thing rather than take the easy course.
"Read 3 times in 40 years"
Living the story through listening, as opposed to watching an abreviated version on screen. Unlike reading, I felt as if I was "in" the complete story as I listened. I was in the fire fights and I had tears fall on my cheeks along with Sam when he spoke to the newly formed 55th Division Salamanders"
When Brandt gave all for General Damon. As a veteran, I knew of a Marine who survived the same action. It was a M26 frag that the VC threw back. Fortunately it was a dud. However the heroic action and thouhgts were the same. This Marine was awarded the Navy Cross, and I was proud to serve with him. Sam spoke twice; once when the 55th was originally formed and on Memorial Day after the war. Each time his feelings and expressions were honest and sincere and the Memorial Day speech caused me to ask myself the some of the same questions about the current situation in the Mid-East..
Not that I can recall
An ordinary mans' Honor and Courage.
I've read Once an Eagle several times, usually at critical moments in my life and it has always helped me find the Courage and Honor that at times has alluded me. I've never been able to measure up as much I'd like, but Sam Damon has always been able to "ground me" and help me get thru a crisis or mature in life as the need presented itself. It's been about twenty years since the last time I read the book and it continues to have a positive impact on my life. This is the first time I've listened to a reading of the book and I enjoyed it much more than the mini-series. Although Sam Elliot did a wonderful job, like all movies from a novel, a lot had to be left out. Not so with the audio version. I really felt the emotion and sensed the feelings of Sam and all of the characters.
"Must read for every military officer!"
Number 1 and I never read fiction.
The interaction with the Chinese officer.
I tried but it was 40 hours, but worth the hefty price.
"Not just a great tale but a lesson for all!!!"
Important for our children and grandchildren ... and I say this as a recovering communist and pacifist.
The example of a HERO.
Grover has done so many non-fiction books that are fabulous but this reveals his ability to capture countless characters as they should be heard.
Sam Damon because he is the archetype for us all.
"Maybe the Best Military Fiction Novel"
This book provides a glimpse into the military life style. There is no wonder this book is so highly recommended for men and women considering a military career.
"Great war epic"
this is the best war story that I have read to date. there may be better but not many i would bet. a must read.
Was recommended to me by an army lad who knows whats up in the world. Did not dissappoint
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