NEW YORK TIMES 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 New York Times bestselling author of 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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, Makos chronicles the stories of American veterans in his trademark fusion of intense human drama and fast-paced military action, securing his place “in the top ranks of military writers,” according to the Los Angeles Times. In the course of his research, Makos has flown a World War II bomber, accompanied a Special Forces raid in Iraq, and journeyed into North Korea in search of an MIA American airman. He lives in Denver.
“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. . . . A thoroughly enjoyable battle story, and a tribute to the everyman warrior.” —Jonathan W. Jordan, The Wall Street Journal
“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.” —George Petras,USA Today(four out of four stars)
“This singular book is redolent with war. I cannot remember another narrative in which my abiding sensory experience was tasting grit and smelling smoke so often.” —Philip Kopper, The Washington Times
“A superb book that combines a firsthand look at war with a story of healing.” —Sandra Dallas, The Denver Post “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.” —Kim Curtis, Associated Press
“This is narrative history at its best, told by a master storyteller.” —Col. Cole Kingseed,Army magazine
“[A] dramatic, haunting true story.” —AARP The Magazine
“A compelling, exciting adventure . . . an in-the-moment re-creation of the Allied breakthrough of the West Wall into Nazi Germany by a remarkable cadre of tank crewmen of the 3rd Armored Division.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An engaging story of blood, sweat and tears . . . a wonderful homage to the Greatest Generation.” —David Kindy, The Providence Journal
“The tension, death, and courage that were everyday experiences for American tankers fill the pages of Makos’s book. This moving story of bravery and comradeship is an important contribution to WWII history that will inform and fascinate both the general reader and the military historian.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)