Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 133

REVIEW ESSAY various locations to ensure they would not be destroyed or confiscated. To further complicate his record-keeping challenges, Balck was forced to keep his last six months of journals in his own possession during his captivity after the war. He managed to save the journals by covertly passing them to his wife during her visits, who then smuggled them out of the prison. Once released, Balck was reunited with the journals and began work on his memoirs. Finally, unlike many memoirs I have read, I cannot detect any overt agendas on the part of either author. Unfortunately, some military memoirists’ purposes seem deceptive, either masking a veiled campaign of self–promotion in which the pages strive to enhance the author’s achievements, or functioning as a forum to degrade others or downplay the accomplishments of peers. It is refreshing that I found neither tendency evident within these volumes. While these memoirs share some exceptional characteristics, the volumes are certainly distinctive from one another in that they differ in focus, perspective, and, obviously, the time periods and conflicts they address. These differences benefit and appeal to different reading audiences. The title of the Galvin memoir will not mislead readers. For the entirety of his military career, Galvin was part of the force dedicated to “fighting the Cold War,” and he reflects on his role in this fight. In a career as long as his, there is much to reflect on, such as leading soldiers at every level of command and serving in Vietnam. Although Galvin’s story is engaging throughout, it is his reflection on time spent as the commander of U.S. Southern Command, and as the commanding general for U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, Europe, that I find particularly fascinating. He provides a unique perspective that includes candid thoughts on his personal engagements with leaders such as Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Colin Powell. He also addresses the numerous events that occurred while he commanded Southern Command, such as the unrest in Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia. As commanding general for U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, Europe, he dealt with key issues such as nuclear and conventional arms-control talks with the Soviet Union, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and the rescue of the Kurds following the first Gulf War. Balck’s Order in Chaos is an incredible surprise for those seeking fresh discussion on World War I, the interwar years, and World War II. His reflection on World War I is, as one would expect, heavily weighted to his platoon- and company-level experiences. Interestingly however, following his years of reflection, Balck also provides his thoughts on the strategic and political aspects of World War I, which are thought-provoking. It was with much anticipation that I began reading Balck’s account of World War II, and I was not disappointed. Balck, who commanded units from regiment to army level during the war, provides vivid accounts of the battles and campaigns in which he led armored forces. His recounting of events is aided tremendously by the twenty superb maps included in his book. He discusses strategy, his decision-making process, the challenges of command, and the human dimension of war. As with his World War I discussion, he shares his opinions on various topics. I found these pages absorbing. Order in Chaos and Fighting the Cold War are two of the best memoirs I have read. Both are superbly written, highly detailed, and, together, provide brilliant perspectives and background on the major wars waged from World War I through the first Gulf War (sans the Korean War). Perhaps equally as important, the memoirs provide readers an opportunity to begin to develop an understanding and an appreciation for two overlooked senior military leaders. Perhaps their own words will provide the spark to encourage further study of Galvin and Balck. Lt. Col Rick Baillergeon, U.S. Army, retired, is a faculty member in the Department of Army Tactics in the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 127