Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons by Kevin Dougherty


Five stars plus! I loved reading this amazing book by Kevin Dougherty. “The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is too good of a book to be relegated as just another history of Vicksburg. Bookstores should not limit the book to assignment in the military history section. It deserves a prominent place in the business section with the books on leadership and management as well as the military history section. As I read the book I was reminded of a book I read in the early 1990s, "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun". The book is that good!

Kevin Dougherty does a great job of providing leadership lessons from the key military and political leaders of the time.  He helps us understand Vicksburg. He does this by sharing the challenges, characteristics, and styles associated with leadership during the Civil War. He follows with an overview of the entire Vicksburg Campaign.

Next, he provides thirty case studies or leadership vignettes. He starts with General Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan. He carries us systematically through the campaign. We meet and learn about the key leaders and engagements. Each of the thirty vignettes begins with the short summary. It follows with a succinct history of the event (e.g. Chickasaw Bayou: William Sherman and Knowing When to Quit). Sharing the resulting leadership lessons learned from the event follow. The chapters (vignettes) conclude with a sidebar of “Takeaways” which provide a succinct summary of the lessons learned.

As you are enjoying reading the book, you learn valuable lessons on the difference between management and leadership. You gain an understanding of servant leadership. You see the value of clear communication from leaders to their subordinates. You comprehend the worth of personal presence of the leader in an organization. 

The author ends the book with conclusions about leadership during the Vicksburg campaign. The areas covered are strategy, confidence, unity of effort, frame of reference, situational awareness, risk taking, problem solving, personal bravery, and technical skill. The inclusion of the Vicksburg Campaign Order of Battle as an appendix is appreciated and helps with the understanding of the size of the leadership task faced by General U.S. Grant.

“The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is a valuable addition to the study of leadership and Vicksburg.  It would be an excellent study for business leaders as well as the professional officer and soldier. I recommend its addition to the personal library of all students of military science. My hope is it would be included in the reading lists of the officer basic or advanced courses. As in "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun", the lessons presented in "The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons" are timeless.

Well done, Lt. Col. Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D. , US Army (retired) Adjunct Professor, Tactical Officer at The Citadel. I enjoyed your book. Well done, indeed!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Michael Yon Online Magazine

Michael Yon Online Magazine. Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, native of Winter Haven, Fl. who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.  No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars.  Michael’s dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation.  His work has been featured on “Good Morning America,” The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.

In 2007 and 2008 he won the Weblog Award Poll for 'Best Military Blog'. He won the 2005 Weblog Award for 'Best Media/Journalism Blog'. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Free France's Lion: The Life Of Philippe Leclerc, De Gaulle's Greatest General by William Moore


Most students of World War II are familiar with General Charles de Gaulle. Only the most serious know of General Philippe Leclerc. I consider myself very knowledgeable when it comes to World War II history. William Mortimer Moore's biography of Philippe Leclerc filled a void in my education. The book is well-written. It held my attention.

The story begins with Leclerc’s death. We learn of his ill-fated November 1947 airplane flight and fatal crash in Algeria. We next are educated on the details of his family history including his coming from an old line of nobility being made aware of the role of his Catholic faith and heritage. We travel with Leclerc following the fall of France in 1940 to London. We go with him to Africa, as he becomes governor of French Cameroon, travel with him as he battles the Axis in Chad and moves his troops across West Africa where he distinguished himself in Tunisia.

General Leclerc commands the French 2nd Armored Division. They land in Normandy; he participates in the battle of the Falaise Pocket, and the liberation of Paris. Leclerc and de Gaulle had to persuade Eisenhower to send troops help the Parisians.

At the end of World War II in Europe, he received command of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps, and represented France during the surrender of the Japanese Empire, signing the surrender document for France. Leclerc is the commander over French Indo-China after World War II. He approved negations with Ho Chi Minh which were unsuccessful. He returned to France.

The book is a must read for any serious student of World War II in Europe. The book is extensively footnoted. The footnotes are heavy with secondary, rather than primary sources. It has an excellent index. It would be an excellent addition to any community, college or personal library. "Free France's Lion: The Life Of Philippe Leclerc, De Gaulle's Greatest General" is written by William Moore. The publisher is Casemate Publishers.