Books: Well-Tempered Amateurs

ELEVEN GENERALS (355 pp.)—Flefcher Praff—Sloane ($5).

Ask the average citizen what the U.S. military tradition consists of and he might mumble something about plenty of planes, tanks and guns. In Eleven Generals, Military Chronicler Fletcher Pratt argues that the unique U.S. contribution is something different: the inbred American conviction that "wars are ultimately won through the aimed fire of individuals."

From the Revolution on, Pratt thinks, the basis of U.S. military success has been the well-tempered amateur squinting down a rifle barrel. "Don't fire till you can see the whites of their eyes" was...

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