In "Evans Carlson, Marine Raider: The Man Who Commanded America s First Special Forces," psychologist and acclaimed history writer Duane Schultz presents a fascinating and absorbing portrait of this complex officer. Son of a Congregational preacher, Carlson left home at an early age, and when he was just seventeen, the tall, lanky underage teenager bluffed his way into the army. He began his eventful military career against Pancho Villa, and continued through World War I and the unrest in Central America and in China. Despite Carlson s personal bravery, loyalty, and long service, Schultz reveals that his active career was cut short by the Marine command who were envious of the attention he and his men received from the press and public; foreshadowing the paranoia of the McCarthy era, he was also rumored to be a communist. His raiders remained staunchly loyal to their former commander, and when he died in 1947, they ensured he would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Famed army and political cartoonist Bill Mauldin said, There were only two brass hats whom ordinary GIs respected: Dwight Eisenhower and Evans Carlson. This is Carlson s story."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Schultz (Coming Through Fire) produces a useful biography of one of the godfathers of America’s special operations forces, maverick Marine Captain Evans Carlson. On the last of his three tours as an observer of the Sino-Japanese War, Carlson reported directly to President Franklin Roosevelt, pushing for an addition to the Marines of an elite force with an ethos based on the Chinese Communist guerillas’ slogan of “work together”: Gung Ho. Carlson promised “nothing but hardship and danger..., we ask no mercy, we give no mercy.” Reluctant Corps conservatives gave way to the President, and the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion was born, offering a military community where “everyone was free to ask questions... without fear of retribution.” The raiders found some answers during an operation in August 1942 on Makin Island—their daring inspired a movie but the execution had all the glitches of any first-time operation. The battalion was more successful on Guadalcanal, where Carlson personally set the pace for an epic four-week “long patrol” behind Japanese lines. Schultz overlooks the war’s expanding scale, asserting the Raiders were disbanded primarily because they received “too much glory and too much publicity,” but he reconstructs the admirable raid and patrol with first-hand accounts, making the book worthwhile for its gritty detail. (June)