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The Way of Duty, Honor, Country: The Memoir of General Charles Pelot Summerall

by Charles Pelot Summerall Edited and Annotated by Timothy K. Nenninger

Availablecloth$45.00 978-0-8131-2618-0
American Warriors Series
328 pages  Pubdate: 10/29/2010  6 x 9  20 b&w photos, 10 maps

After graduating from West Point in 1892, Charles Pelot Summerall (1867–1955) launched a distinguished military career, fighting Filipino insurgents in 1899 and Boxers in China in 1900. His remarkable service included brigade, division, and corps commands in World War I; duty as chief of staff of the U.S. Army from 1926 to 1930; and presidency of the Citadel for twenty years, where he was instrumental in establishing the school’s national reputation.

Previously available only in the Citadel’s archives, Summerall’s memoir offers an eyewitness account of a formative period in U.S. Army history. Edited and annotated by Timothy K. Nenninger, the memoir documents critical moments in American military history and details Summerall’s personal life, from his impoverished childhood in Florida to his retirement from the Citadel in 1953. From the perspective of both a soldier and a general, Summerall describes how the very nature of war changed irrevocably during his lifetime.

Timothy K. Nenninger is chief of the Textual Records reference staff at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

This book will give readers a long-overdue exposure to Summerall’s accounts of the many fascinating events of which he was a part, as well as an equally overdue window into the mind and character of this important American figure. -- Mark E. Grotelueschen, author of Doctrine Under Trial: American Artillery Employment in World War I

An important work by a pivotal figure in the US Army's transition from constabulary to an overseas expeditionary force. The memoirs are especially valuable for Summerall's views on the imperial wars, the AEF's performance in World War I, and the problems of the postwar period. -- Brian Linn, author of The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War

Charles P. Summerall was one of the best American combat commanders in World War I who, after the war, reached the pinnacle of his profession as Chief of Staff of the Army. After his retirement as president of the Citadel 1931-1953, he made the South Carolina military school a national institution. His memoir, ably edited and annotated by Timothy Nenninger, is a fascinating account of his experiences from his youth as a poor farm boy through West Point and his winning distinction in fighting in the Philippines and China then later in World War I through his post-war career in the War Department and the Citadel. -- Edward Coffman, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summerall's life covered an incredible time of change in the South, the United States and Europe. This memoir gives the reader a ground-floor view of some of those changes, straight from the pen of a man who played a part in making those changes happen. -- Post and Courier

This is a fascinating account of a life that saw the U.S. Army's transition from a frontier constabulary to a powerful armed force on the world stage. -- The Past in Review

Nenninger has done an excellent job of editing and annotating the memoir. -- Bowling Green Daily News

[An] often lively, sometimes contentious, yet completely engaging memoir of his long career. -- Strategy Page

It is remarkably candid, but at the same time it is the account of a strong and opinionated man. -- Journal of America's Military Past

[The author] provided a thorughtful introduction, clarificatory footnotes, and additional material, which strengthens the value of Summerall's account. -- NYMAS Review

Winner of the Army Historical Foundation's 2011 Distinguished Book Award in the Journals, Memoirs, and Letters category

It is, simply, a great story, very well told. -- Coast Defense Journal

This is a personal story, written in prose that sounds like something you might hear if you were sitting in the living room listening to the generations above you tell their story. It is fascinating, revealing, and intimate. This is one man's journey though a very important time in American history. . . . It is a journey well told, and it is worth reading. -- Mack Easter III -- H-Net Review

Dr. Tim Nenninger has done us all a marvelous service by editing this memoir. While it is known to many World War I enthusiasts/scholars, this readable, thoroughly annotated publication saves us all much additional grubbing in the files, particularly after the names which Summerall so scrupulously avoided using.

[. . .] There is much to be learned from this memoir.

[. . .] Students of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and the U.S. Army in general must know this memoir. -- Journal of Military History