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

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  296 reviews

“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
Hardcover, 395 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Ballantine Books
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  • Spearhead by Adam Makos
    Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives In World War II
    Release date: Feb 19, 2019

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    Average rating 4.55  · 
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     ·  1,790 ratings  ·  296 reviews

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    Start your review of Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives In World War II
    'Aussie Rick'
    Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: ww2
    Having just finished Adam Mako's latest WW2 book; Spearhead I wanted a bit of time to collect my thoughts before trying to write a review. This is an excellent book of soldiers at war, a tankers eye-view of the conflict through his periscope or his gun sight. Adam Makos has decided to tell the story from the perspective of one US Army tank crew that fought it’s way through France and into Germany at war's end.

    Not only do we follow the deadly combat of this tank crew but we also get to follow
    Donna Davis
    Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Recommends it for: history buffs, particularly WWII and military history.
    I read this historical gem free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine; it’s among the top ten percent of the military histories I have read, and it’s one of the few that I have recommended to friends and relatives. Makos’s introduction tells us what he has done to lay his groundwork, and it’s impressive:

    "We traversed the battlefields of the Third Reich—with the men who made history…in 2013. Clarence Smoyer and three other veterans traveled to Germany and allowed us to tag
    Peter Tillman
    Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This is a well-written and well-researched WW2 history book that I kept stalling on, at repeated scenes of graphic gore. Such as, an unfortunate lieutenant, killed within a few hours of taking his new posting in a tank platoon, with his brain matter splattered all over the inside of the tank. The Army’s wise policy was to transfer surviving crew members to a different tank. Or a crack sniper who followed up on a shot, to find his victim messily dying among his buddies in a cellar. "In his rush ...more
    Morgan Blackledge
    Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Tight AF tank fights.

    FUK YEAH!!!!

    And one other thing:

    The book does a great job personalizing the events from the perspective of the actual people who fought on both sides of the frontline.

    The author met the surviving American and German veterans and even accompanied them in a truly touching and meaningful reunion at the actual site in Cologne where they fought 60 some years prior.

    The sacrifices these men made, countered by their profound sense of personal responsibility meant that they carried
    May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favorites
    This is a fast paced memoir filled with non-stop action. I was entertained from the first chapter to the last and there wasn’t a moment of downtime. During the day, I couldn’t wait for night time so I could get back to the book. For me, this is a WWII, European theater version of “With the Old Breed.”

    It is a history of Eagle Company of the Third Armor Division nicknamed “Spearhead” because 3rd Armor and their death traps (also known as Sherman tanks) were the tip of the spear as the Allies raced
    David Eppenstein
    Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The vast majority of histories concerning wars or campaigns within wars are about the "Big Picture". These histories are about the major players, the strategies, and tactics and the luck or lack thereof that occurs during these conflicts. All of this is of course important or they wouldn't be given the lion's share of attention. However, these things are not the entire story or picture. Without the common soldier, sailor, or airman that has to do the actual fighting there is no "Big Picture" and ...more
    Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    First, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been unduly influenced in any way.


    The description provided by the publisher states that Spearhead is "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."

    They could not be more accurate and succinct.

    Initial Thoughts: I like
    Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Another great book by Adam Makos (the best story-teller of the last few years). The story follows the young men from both American and German armored units across the European battlefields, culminating in the battle of Cologne where their stories meet. Makos introduces each character nicely into the story. and each one brings richness to the story. The author's description of everything is vivid and he really takes you along for the ride in the armored wagons of the Spearhead Division. Great ...more
    Grant Masson
    Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Spearhead honors an unsung hero of World War II, Clarence Smoyers, who deplored violence but became the gunner of one of the first Pershing tanks in the European Theater, spearheading the American invasion of Germany. Smoyers's story is a powerful evocation of the lives and challenges of the 'tankers', so critical to the war effort, as well as of German civilians caught up in the conflict. The book leaves nothing to the imagination and tells the details of horrible injuries and deaths that our ...more
    Tony Hedrick
    Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Overall this is a well-researched book that makes good on the author’s promise of making the reader feel as if they are almost there in the turret. The thing that makes this a great book that deserves five stars is that Mr. Makos included the final two chapters. Living and dealing with the mental wounds from war is the greatest battle for many combat veterans and is, unfortunately, often left out. I will highly recommend this book to my brother and sisters in arms.
    Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Tank versus tank! Pershing versus Panther! And caught on film? No, this is not a war movie, rather this is a World War II tale worth making into a movie. Adam Makos met with Clarence Smoyer in 2012 and that launched a journey that led to this book.

    Clarence Smoyer was a tank gunner in the 3rd Armored Division lead by General Rose. He came ashore in France 3 weeks after D-Day as a loader and was promoted to gunner in a Sherman tank in August. As the book opens, the 3rd Armored Division was laying
    David Lubin
    Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Adam Makos has done an incredible job of tracking down aging WW 2 veterans like Clarence Smoyer and Gustav Schaefer and putting together what each was doing and thinking during moments when they were trying to kill each other in order to survive. Since my father in law had been a tank driver during WW 2, I had a little background of what he went through as a skinny 20 year old handling a Sherman tank. He told me he had to stand up in the seat to depress the clutch, how cramped the inside of the ...more
    Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    I am convinced Adam Makos has another blockbuster on his hands!!! It was simply spectacular! I am also really glad I had the opportunity to see the trailer before the book arrived … I felt as if I knew Clarence already. The author made this frightening time of history so easy to follow and understand … which will make it all the more readable to those of us (and I know there will be many) who know nothing of tank warfare (and never really thought it would ever be anything that could possibly be ...more
    Ian Pickard
    Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Adam Makos is a fantastic author. Another great WWII story captured in a personal way that brings you right into the story.
    I loved the history, the details and I learned a lot reading it. I also developed a stronger appreciation for those who fought the Axis in WWII. Although a little tech-y and hard to fully comprehend at times, it was a phenomenal book.
    Lisa Anderson
    Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Amazing story by one of my favorite authors. I love how Adam Makos makes these stories come alive and brings a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made during this time in history.
    L.A. Pokin
    Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing

    Two weeks ago at the book signing in downtown Denver, I met the author and the WWII veteran featured in this amazing book.
    9News advertised the book signing and invited everyone to come to Union station to meet Clarence and the author - so I went.
    I am honored and proud that I was able to shake hands with both these men - and give the author one of my bookmarks.
    I bought a copy of the book there, had it signed, and just finished reading it today.
    If ever a book called to me, this was it. My Dad was in the US Army and I was born at the Fort Knox base while he was stationed there in the late 1970's to early 1980's. He also worked specifically with tanks as part of a rapid deployment armored division. Two of my best friends happen to be German, and live in the city of Cologne (Köln), so I've been fortunate enough not only to visit Cologne several times, but to see a large portion of Germany through the years.

    The addition of pictures
    Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
    First off - full disclosure - I received this book in a GR Giveaway and am grateful for the chance to review it. In sum, I liked this book - not as much as his "A Higher Call" - but liked it just the same. Makos' schtick seems to be to tell a very engaging war story and to tie together characters from both sides of the conflict at some point. He weaved that tale wonderfully in "A Higher Call," but falls a bit short here.

    For my taste, the first half of "Spearhead" has a bit too much made-up
    Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Thank you net galley for the advance read copy of this novel. This was an excellent job fiction account of tank warfare towards the end of WWII. This is not my typical genre but I very much enjoyed this book. It read like an action film rather than just facts and figures of who did what when. I highly recommend this for history buffs and for my fellow historical fiction readers. Well written, face paced and emotionally rewarding!
    Tim Yearneau
    Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Exceptional book. I read it in like 4 days. I couldn't put it down. What I liked is Makos sticks to the story, keeps it rolling, and doesn't slow down the story with too many details. Enough details to keep the story relevant and interesting, but doesn't slow it down. An emotional connection is made with the main characters. And the hell that is war comes through loud and clear. An exceptional read.
    Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Incredible story - Despite being a history major, I had never read much about the experience of the men fighting in tanks during World War 2. This books gives excellent insight into their (harrowing) experience while telling one man’s story of bravery, regret, and redemption.
    Charles Darlage
    Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    A fantastic read. Really gives you a feel for what it was like in a tank during WWII, for both sides. Great photos and there is video from WWII that documents one of the dramatic tank battles documented in this book.
    One I will definitely read again at some point.
    Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: ww2, 2019, non-fiction
    Excellent book. It follows a few U.S. tanks as well as some infantry through Belgium and Germany. The author also bring in a few Germans, both military and civilian. Good number of maps and photos are a bonus. The best part is the writing. Often these combat stories can be too factual and very dry, but this book reads like an exciting novel. Well worth reading.
    Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I saw this book at Costco, bought it on a whim. Then I looked at the reviews- seems like a great book! And it was! Careful, personal account of a tanker (and a few others) who fought his way across Europe, and engaged in some memorable battles/struggles on the way. Gives you a very personal and up-close vision of life as a WWII American tanker. The book has three parts, in my mind. Part one is the battles from just after D-day, where the book starts, up to and including the Battle of the Bulge. ...more
    Roy R McSorley III

    The author made me feel like I was there as an observer. I also liked the tour of the drive across Europe, reminding me of the time I spent overseas.
    Nathaniel Jackson
    Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I enjoyed this book. I've read quite a few WWII histories; this one was different in that it centered around an Armored Division and specifically tank battles. The author was able to interview several survivors of a tank battalion, making the story more personal. Amazing stories of survival, death, friendships. Some great pictures in the book, including of many of the subjects of the book. Worth the read!
    Zerlinna Teague
    Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    "The guard approached Gustav and told him that he could visit the chow line. Gustav didn't understand.
    'Everyone gets the same tonight,' the guard said--commander's orders."

    "Tell Clarence, in the next life, we will be comrades."

    Wow! This book left me speechless. I want to start by saying that my grandfather was in the 3rd Armored Division during WWII, and I felt like I got to know him a little better by reading this book. Sadly, he died back in 2001, and not surprisingly, he didn't talk much
    Gary Detrick
    Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    A powerful book of tank gunners, interwoven with the stories of the men, American and German, who lead the devastating treks across the battlefields of WWII. Exceptionally written and documented, this will keep you moving from page to page following the intensity of the battles and the heart-rendering stories of those involved. We largely follow the story of Clarence Smoyer along with the few of his surviving tank mates and the German tanker, Gustave Schaefer. Another must read for anyone who ...more
    Jamey Davis
    Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Great book!
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    Hailed as “A masterful storyteller” by the Associated Press, Adam Makos is the author of the New York Times bestseller, A Higher Call, and the critically-acclaimed, Devotion. Inspired by his grandfathers’ service, Adam chronicles the stories of American veterans in his trademark “You Are There” style, landing him “in the top ranks of military writers,” according to the Los Angeles Times. In ...more
    “It was disgusting to watch how the Third Reich died,” wrote a German sergeant. “None of its leaders came to the foxholes to defend it to the last man as they had promised. They all abandoned their posts and fled, afraid of being held responsible, or cowardly died by suicide.” 1 likes
    “There was no going forward—in front of the column, from the slope of a field, ten German tanks blasted away. There would be no retreat—behind the American column, another five German tanks shot down from a hilltop, silhouetted by the moon. The woods were a killing zone too. The tree line blinked with small-arms fire from SS infantry stationed at both ends of the route. With nowhere to run, all that remained for most Americans was to hide.” 0 likes
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