LeMay by Warren Kozak: a review

Kozak’s objective was to restore Curtis LeMay’s reputation as one of the significant military leaders in US history. He gets us maybe halfway there. I was hoping for better.

The book’s a decently thorough and reasonably thoughtful popular biography, and not the hagiography I rather expected from this publisher. The supporting research appears to be adequate, but not what you’d expect from what the author implies was a four-year effort. The book’s slightly weak in the fact-checking department, too–but mostly minor stuff that reveals the author’s sloppiness without seriously damaging his argument.

Kozak makes some effort to put LeMay’s military career into a useful context, but mostly he just argues with late-sixties liberalism. A better treatment would compare the intentions of the European bombing campaigns with the results, and with the very different strategies employed against Japan. The material’s certainly available in the military literature.

What the book does well is round out LeMay’s biography. Like most Vietnam vets, my memories of the man begin with his time on the Joint Chiefs and end with the 1968 Wallace campaign. There’s much more to this man than that, and the book is worth reading just for that.

This review was originally published on LibraryThing.

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