Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Once an Eagle” as Want to Read:
Once an Eagle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Once an Eagle

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  1,899 ratings  ·  148 reviews

Soldier Sam Damon puts duty and honor above self-interest, but his lifelong adversary, Courtney Massengale, advances by making connections. Slowly, the conflict between these men intensifies, culminating in the last major battleground of the Cold War.

Audio CD, 34 pages
Published December 1st 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1968)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Once an Eagle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Once an Eagle

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Matt
This is a novel as big as a life.

Usually, when I go to airports, I am well prepared. I have my main book; my backup book; my backup to the backup; and my ultimate backup, if I meet with a series of delays or the other backups are terrible or I somehow find time to read all the others. On my way back from Florida, though, I suddenly found myself in Tampa's airport with nothing to read, so I purchased this 1,200 page doorstop with the knowledge that it'd last.

Once An Eagle traces the arc of a so...more
Szplug
Myrer's mammoth novel is an engaging, disciplined, and, ultimately, powerful examination of American military life—its hardships and demands, its rewards and sacrifices, its meaning and tragedies, its uses and abuses—as filtered through the evolving life story of Sam Damon: raw and naïve recruit in the First World War, seasoned veteran in the Second, despairing old schooler in the looming presence of the Vietnam folly. Damon meets his diametric archetype in Courtney Massengale, his coeval and li...more
S.A. Bolich
This is perhaps my all-time favorite book. Like many a young second lieutenant, I often stopped for a "what would Sam do?" moment when faced with tough situations. This is the quintessential novel about leadership and honor and the American soldier. "Sad Sam" Damon, who shuns the advice of everyone as a young man to pursue a military career, doggedly sticks out the drudgery of being an enlisted man pre-World War I, believing fully in destiny and that he will find his in the army. And does he eve...more
Marcia Brisson  Van Camp
My old boss Jim Rutherford said this was one of his favorite books and since he had great taste in literature I was curious. My dad had an original copy and said he loved the book as well and that it had been required reading as part of his military work...War College perhaps? Well...the copy my dad had was big and heavy...about 800 pages and for any DC metro goer...you know that it is real real hard to carry a book like that. I tried to find it on kindle but no luck and then I tried to convince...more
Ben Lowsen
Myrer in some ways wrote the ur-military "adventure" book, as its ubiquity on military reading lists suggests. It is the story of a youthful US volunteer - Sam Damon - who earns the Medal of Honor and an officership in WWI, stays on with the US Army in the interwar period, fights skilfully and bravely in WWII, and ascends to high command. Myrer emphasizes traditional military virtues in describing Damon's wars, but devotes at least as much space to describing life in a peacetime military. Myrer...more
JDK1962
(IMHO, few books deserve five stars. I'd give this book six stars if I could. Go out to Amazon, and look at the distribution of reviews. Virtually EVERYONE who reads this massive book rates it five stars. You should read it. Period.)

I love this book. I read it for the first time probably 10-20 years ago, and find that I can easily open it at any point and get engrossed again in Sam Damon's journey. It's just this incredibly broad and rich tapestry.

What I think I love most about this book is Sam'...more
Mike Kershaw
One of the five books that I thought every officer should read. This ia a classic that became popular in the late 80s and early 90s. This epic novel is follows the lives of two army officers from WWI to the Vietnam era. It was made into a mini-series in the 70’s and has been reprinted by the Army War College. Myrer has taken some of the most outstanding combat leadership of WWII (Darby, York, Truscott, Eichelberger, etc..) and crafted it into a historical novel of epic proportions, centering on...more
G
Feb 15, 2010 G rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to G by: BG Jefforey Smith
My favorite novel. It is thick but every bit as timeless and brilliant as a couple of other sweeping epics, the Illiad and the Odyssey.

A quick look and it is obvious it is about war and soldiering, however, it is so well crafted that it would leave any reader uplifted and touched. Yes, war is ugly, yet the virtues that the hero, Sam Damon, possesses are what we should hope that all of our soldiers ascribe to model their own values upon. Although the story is a work of fiction, throughout the boo...more
Dena
Sep 16, 2008 Dena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: war and history buffs
Recommended to Dena by: no one - got it with a gift card at Barnes and Noble
I am about halfway through and I am really enjoying it. I can't tell the bent of the author although I did read the review that it was a great anti-war book. But not like you'd think. There are a thousand things that make war horrible and military life unpleasant - things that seem ridiculously unfair to a civilian. But the thinking of Sam Damon is fascinating and admirable and I wonder how many soldiers today think that way......

Finally done. It was a puzzling view. I thoroughly enjoyed it and...more
Garrett Rebstock
Hands down, my favorite books I have ever read. There was no finer example of how I've heard it put "The unoffical Field Manual on Leadership and Army Values." It was a nine hundred page epic that took me a few months to get through, but the slow pace was nice. I bookmarked many passages and quotes that I found deeply inspiring from a soldier and leader's standpoint. I damn near flooded my twitter and facebook feed with quotes from this book. It is on the officer's reading list for a reason. Dam...more
Doug
I bought this book because I discovered it was on the required reading list at the US Military Academy at Westpoint. This intrigued me because the book is a work of fiction and I couldn't fathom why a work of fiction would be a required read at Westpoint. I know many grads of Westpoint and know a former instructor and a current instructor and two of my Eagle Scouts are cadets at Westpoint so I also read it for that reason.
What I discovered was probably one of the most succinct theses on leade...more
Lee
If you want to know who I wanted to be when I was 18, read this. I hadn't read it then, but the hero of this book is pretty much the upright, shining knight in (khaki) that I wanted to be.


I didn't read it until much later (1993), but Sam Damon is the Army officer I dreamed of becoming: decisive, clear-sighted, morally upright, compassionate about his soldiers, and even well-read. He is clearly contrasted with Courtney Massengale, the shiny careerist staff officer that is so easy to despise (and...more
Rachel


I give this book 5 stars because it is extremely well written and engaging. However, I hated almost every minute of it. I read it in the first years of my husband's Army career and found it extremely depressing. The hero of the story is never fully appreciated by his military leadership, constantly being overlooked and overshadowed by a more charismatic officer, who probably could have coined the acronym 'CYA'. I see that many reviewers admired the character of Sam and wanted to be an Officer l...more
Frank
My favorite book of all time, this is the story of the American dream from the perspective of a military officer in the first half of the twentieth century. It captures the naivete,the skill, the courage, and the dogged determination of Americans as they emerged from one period of Manifest Destiny into another.

This is the main track of the book; it has many side tracks and crossings. The most important of these is the humility of the hero, a humility that is now largely lost among Americans.

The...more
Natalie
Sep 21, 2007 Natalie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Military Wives and Soldiers
Shelves: military
This is on many infantry company commanders' must-read lists for their platoon leaders and XO's. Officer's wives will love it too. It's easy to feel as if you know the characters. Most Army wives have been through long deployments and can relate to the joys and heartwrenching times during their husband's career. And, all Army wives had felt their husband's pain of having to work with a soldier who is out for himself, knows how to kiss butt perfectly,is a fraud, etc. Basically, a true Masengale....more
Roger
I suppose this review will be at the end of a long line of reviews but I'd be remis not to discuss it. This book is one of the reasons I went into the US Army. Its one of the reasons I became an officer after 7 years as an enlisted man. It clearly laid out what the standard was and is for those who wish to lead soldiers, both in professional and personal conduct. Also for those "shit happens" moments where all you can do is drive on and hope it works. As a company commander this was mandatory re...more
Justin
I never thought that I'd be reading a book like this; that is, a military story. The narrative, though, is highly compelling, and the writing, though it has a tendency to lean on the highly metaphorical for basic physical description, is balanced, forgiving, humanistic, and mostly quite beautiful--precisely because it does not pander to audience, but seems to be an authentic determined display of what the author wants... hard to say this isn't almost essential reading, but I've been on a bit of...more
Robert Curtin
Excellent book on leadership!
Christine
Favorite quote from book: "We stand at an immense fork in the raod. One way is the path of generosity, dignity and a respect for other races and customs; the other leads most certainly to greed, suspicion, hatered and the old, bloody course of violence and waste - and now, God help us, to the very destruction of all the struggles and triumphs of the human race on this earth. My old friends and fellow townsmen: which will it be?"

Such a sad but predictable ending.
Dave B.
‘Once an Eagle’ is a massive story that integrated subplots and first person narratives with accounts of military campaigns. This book is rich with ideas on leadership that transcends time and crosses the line between military and corporate worlds. Sam Damon is the ‘everyman’ ideal character and I enjoyed following his military career from start to finish (a timeline of almost 50 years). Myrer does an excellent job explaining what it takes to become a leader that others willing follow and I took...more
Charles
Not sure about the category for this one either. Maybe Historical fiction since it's about the World War. To tell you the truth, I read it long ago and don't remember a lot about it. It's very long and that's generally not a good thing in my mind. But I've hung on to it and as I remember I enjoyed it fairly well.
John Harder
Sam Damon, the protagonist of Once an Eagle could be the result if General Lee and General Grant had a baby – I imagine the martial coupling would occur on the Mason-Dixon Line. Both Lee and Grant had character down to the bone, but they manifested it different ways; Lee the marble monument and Grant the rumpled, humble but brilliant tactician. Soldier “Sad” Sam Damon knows when to maintain the persona of a man above events, but through it all he was a soldier’s soldier.

Once an Eagle is a story...more
Chris
Probably my favorite book of all time and a superb treatise on leadership too. The TV miniseries with Sam Elliott as Sam Damon was superlative too.
Kelly Crigger
A classic tale that's laced with valuable lessons about life and leadership. A must read for anyone considering a military career.
Hans
I caught on quickly where the author was going with his character development the second he chose to have the main character as a rural Nebraska farm boy. This choice of course was to create a believable character who can embody one of the most challenging contradictions, a person of power and influence who doesn't lust after power. In early American history this was the ideal for all leaders, to chose someone who wasn't ambitious but the reluctant leader, the one who would give up power when as...more
Andrea
This is good read for civilians who have no idea about the ins and outs of military culture. One of the best things Myer did was layer in and explain all the unspoken culture things only those who served readily identify. I think the best scenes from the book were towards the end where the protagonist was in the Pacific fighting. I loved how the author worked in his real life experience into those parts of the book. They were by far the best describing the environment and the suffering endured b...more
Morgan Oats
Man, if there ever was a book that made me reconsider my decisions and reflect on life, morals, and the important things in life it is Once An Eagle. Sam Damon is easily my favorite fictional character, and Once An Eagle has propelled its way towards the top of my all time favorite books.

This book has taken me through a roller coaster of thoughts and reflections. I admire Sam so much, as anyone should, and wish his life had been easier. Sam is a man of legend from the beginning of the book. He a...more
Jessica
This was such a satisfying read! To be fair, I generally enjoy war novels, which is why I picked up this 1300 page monster to begin with. The upshot of this book is simply that good soldiers aren't typically good politicians, and the best politicians oftentimes make the worst soldiers. It's a simple theme, for sure, but the two characters employed to illustrate this point both make for compelling reading. The book sprawls across WWI, WWII, and Vietnam (the author apparently decided Korea wasn't...more
Gallaghertm
What begins as a stirring dichotomy between a "muddy boots" officer and the stereotypical epitome of a staff officer turns into something where it's difficult to even root for the perceived good guy of the story. This book is often lauded as a great example of military leadership but the darker implications of a senior officer's career distancing him from his family is hard to ignore. Chalk it up as an example in military leadership with a little cautionary tale thrown in.
Brendan Hodge
I can see why the War College reprinted this for class discussion, as Myrer has a lot to say about what makes a good officer versus a bad officer. It did draw me along, and some of its combat scenes are very well drawn. Its characters tend to be very, very simplistic, however. And there are some bits of historical naiveté (particularly about the Chinese communists of the 30s to 50s) which don't internally interfere with the story but make one question the author's historical analysis quite a bit...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Once An Eagle 3 48 Mar 22, 2013 04:02PM  
  • This Kind of War
  • Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton
  • Fields of Fire
  • Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam
  • The Village
  • Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
  • Infantry Attacks
  • Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime
  • Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
  • About Face: Odyssey Of An American Warrior
  • Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945
  • A Message to Garcia
  • Battle Cry
  • The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
  • First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
  • Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age
  • The Final Storm (World War II: 1939-1945, #4)
21903
Anton Myrer, who died of leukemia in 1996, was a best-selling author whose themes were America's loss of innocence and the use and abuse of power. He is particularly remembered for The Last Convertible (1978), a summation of the American experience during and after World War II, and for Once an Eagle (1968), which traces the life of a regular Army officer and his family from before World War I to...more
More about Anton Myrer...
The Last Convertible A Green Desire The Big War Once an Eagle (Part 2 of a 2-Part Cassette Edition) (Library) The Intruder

Share This Book

“That's the whole challenge of life - to act with honor and hope and generosity, no whatter what you've drawn. You can't help when or what you were born, you may not be able to help how you die; but you can - and you should - try to pass the days between as a good man.” 8 likes
“if it comes to a choice between being a good soldier and a good human being -- try to be a good human being".” 2 likes
More quotes…