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Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II

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Johnathan Mcclain

13 Hours 33 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

February 2019

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Audio Book Summary

NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, LOS ANGELES TIMES, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER 

“A band of brothers in an American tank . . . Makos drops the reader back into the Pershing’s turret and dials up a battle scene to rival the peak moments of Fury.”
—The Wall Street Journal

From the author of the international bestseller A Higher Call comes the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy.

When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner’s seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gentle giant from Pennsylvania has a hidden talent: He’s a natural-born shooter.

At first, Clarence and his fellow crews in the legendary 3rd Armored Division—“Spearhead”—thought their tanks were invincible. Then they met the German Panther, with a gun so murderous it could shoot through one Sherman and into the next. Soon a pattern emerged: The lead tank always gets hit.

After Clarence sees his friends cut down breaching the West Wall and holding the line in the Battle of the Bulge, he and his crew are given a weapon with the power to avenge their fallen brothers: the Pershing, a state-of-the-art “super tank,” one of twenty in the European theater.

But with it comes a harrowing new responsibility: Now they will spearhead every attack. That’s how Clarence, the corporal from coal country, finds himself leading the U.S. Army into its largest urban battle of the European war, the fight for Cologne, the “Fortress City” of Germany.

Battling through the ruins, Clarence will engage the fearsome Panther in a duel immortalized by an army cameraman. And he will square off with Gustav Schaefer, a teenager behind the trigger in a Panzer IV tank, whose crew has been sent on a suicide mission to stop the Americans.

As Clarence and Gustav trade fire down a long boulevard, they are taken by surprise by a tragic mistake of war. What happens next will haunt Clarence to the modern day, drawing him back to Cologne to do the unthinkable: to face his enemy, one last time.

Praise for Spearhead

“A detailed, gripping account . . . the remarkable story of two tank crewmen, from opposite sides of the conflict, who endure the grisly nature of tank warfare.”
—USA Today (four out of four stars)

“Strong and dramatic . . . Makos established himself as a meticulous researcher who’s equally adept at spinning a good old-fashioned yarn. . . . For a World War II aficionado, it will read like a dream.”
—Associated Press  

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Reviews

  • Harry H.

    Starts a little slow but excellent story and narration. Love the way author intertwines the lives of soldiers from both sides. My father was a tank commander in Italy during WWII and never spoke about it. Now I understand.

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  • Robert M.

    Another great book by Adam Makos. Almost as riveting as "A Higher Call".

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  • Louise C.

    This was an amazing book about real men that fought in WWII. It gave me a better understanding of what soldiers endure. The well-written words, even if they were audio for me, described feelings in a way that watching a movie never could. I did not think I would like the book because it described so many guns and tanks in details. I thought, yuck, this is a guy's book. But I paid for it and so I kept listening. The author developed the characters and their stories. There was comradeship, war stories, love stories, human interest stories, and it gave in-depth understanding of the endurance of the men that fought in WWII and the demons that haunted them after the war. The ending, a true ending, about enemies that almost killed each other was worth the read. Makes you want to cry. I am so happy that the author did the hard research for this book and brought this story to light. My first husband was in the Special Forces and died in Viet Nam. I never understood why he went back for a second tour after and extended first tour. This book actually helped me see the world from a soldier's perspective and I am grateful that I listened to it.

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  • Scott L.

    The audio book made a 16 hour cross country drive seem like an hour. I was riveted. I've read scores of WWII books about tank warfare but this stands out as the best by far.

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