Walter R. Borneman
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About Walter R. Borneman
Walter R. Borneman writes about American military and political history. His most recent book, Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona, was published in May 2019 by Little, Brown. The Pearl Harbor story has never been told through the eyes of the seventy-eight brothers—members of the same families—serving together aboard the battleship that fateful day.
Borneman won the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize in Naval Literature for The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea (Little, Brown, 2012). A national bestseller, The Admirals tells the story of the only four men in American history to achieve the rank of fleet admiral. Together they transformed the American navy with aircraft carriers and submarines and won World War II.
Borneman's other titles include MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific (Little, Brown, 2016), a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History; American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution (Little, Brown, 2014); Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America (Random House, 2008), which won the Tennessee History Book Award and the Colorado Book Award for Biography; and 1812: The War That Forged a Nation (HarperCollins, 2004).
His commentary has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and on FoxNews.com. He lives in Colorado and has spent many days climbing its mountains.
QUOTE: My overriding goal in writing history has been to get the facts straight and then present them in a readable fashion. I am convinced that knowing history is not just about appreciating the past, but also about understanding the present and planning for the future.
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Books By Walter R. Borneman
The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 remains one of the most traumatic events in American history. America's battleship fleet was crippled, thousands of lives were lost, and the United States was propelled into a world war. Few realize that aboard the iconic, ill-fated USS Arizona were an incredible seventy-nine blood relatives. Tragically, in an era when family members serving together was an accepted, even encouraged, practice, sixty-three of the Arizona's 1,177 dead turned out to be brothers.
In Brothers Down, acclaimed historian Walter R. Borneman returns to that critical week of December, masterfully guiding us on an unforgettable journey of sacrifice and heroism, all told through the lives of these brothers and their fateful experience on the Arizona. Weaving in the heartbreaking stories of the parents, wives, and sweethearts who wrote to and worried about these men, Borneman draws from a treasure trove of unpublished source material to bring to vivid life the minor decisions that became a matter of life or death when the bombs began to fall. More than just an account of familial bonds and national heartbreak, what emerges promises to define a turning point in American military history.
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World War II changed the course of history. Douglas MacArthur changed the course of World War II. Macarthur at War will go deeper into this transformative period of his life than previous biographies, drilling into the military strategy that Walter R. Borneman is so skilled at conveying, and exploring how personality and ego translate into military successes and failures.
Architect of stunning triumphs and inexplicable defeats, General MacArthur is the most intriguing military leader of the twentieth century. There was never any middle ground with MacArthur. This in-depth study of the most critical period of his career shows how his influence spread far beyond the war-torn Pacific.
A Finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History at the New York Historical Society
After the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, the rest of the United States was up for grabs, and the race was on. The prize: a better, shorter, less snowy route through the American Southwest, linking Los Angeles to Chicago.
In Iron Horses, Borneman recounts the rivalries, contested routes, political posturing, and business dealings that unfolded as an increasing number of lines pushed their way across the country. Borneman brings to life the legendary robber barons behind it all and also captures the herculean efforts required to construct these roads -- the laborers who did the back-breaking work, the brakemen who ran atop moving cars, the tracklayers crushed and killed by runaway trains.
From backroom deals in Washington, DC, to armed robberies of trains in the wild deserts, from cattle cars to streamliners and Super Chiefs, all the great incidents and innovations of a mighty American era are made vivid in Iron Horses.
When we reflect on our nation's history, the American Revolution can feel almost like a foregone conclusion. In reality, the first weeks and months of 1775 were very tenuous, and a fractured and ragtag group of colonial militias had to coalesce rapidly to have even the slimmest chance of toppling the mighty British Army.
American Spring follows a fledgling nation from Paul Revere's little-known ride of December 1774 and the first shots fired on Lexington Green through the catastrophic Battle of Bunker Hill, culminating with a Virginian named George Washington taking command of colonial forces on July 3, 1775.
Focusing on the colorful heroes John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry, and the ordinary Americans caught up in the revolution, Walter R. Borneman uses newly available sources and research to tell the story of how a decade of discontent erupted into an armed rebellion that forged our nation.
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Only four men in American history have been promoted to the five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet: William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz, and William Halsey. These four men were the best and the brightest the navy produced, and together they led the U.S. navy to victory in World War II, establishing the United States as the world's greatest fleet.
In The Admirals, award-winning historian Walter R. Borneman tells their story in full detail for the first time. Drawing upon journals, ship logs, and other primary sources, he brings an incredible historical moment to life, showing us how the four admirals revolutionized naval warfare forever with submarines and aircraft carriers, and how these men -- who were both friends and rivals -- worked together to ensure that the Axis fleets lay destroyed on the ocean floor at the end of World War II.
The history of Alaska is filled with stories of new land and new riches -- and ever present are new people with competing views over how the valuable resources should be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion call of "Gold!"; soldiers battling out a decisive chapter in world war; oil wildcatters looking for a different kind of mineral wealth; and always at the core of these disputes is the question of how the land is to be used and by whom.
While some want Alaska to remain static, others are in the vanguard of change. Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land shows that there are no easy answers on either side and that Alaska will always be crossing the next frontier.
In June 1812 the still-infant United States had the audacity to declare war on the British Empire. Fought between creaking sailing ships and armies often led by bumbling generals, the ensuing conflict featured a tit-for-tat "You burned our capital, so we'll burn yours" and a legendary battle unknowingly fought after the signing of a peace treaty.
During the course of the war, the young American navy proved its mettle as the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," sent two first-rate British frigates to the bottom, and a twenty-seven-year-old lieutenant named Oliver Hazard Perry hoisted a flag exhorting, "Don't Give Up the Ship," and chased the British from Lake Erie. By 1814, however, the United States was no longer fighting for free trade, sailors' rights, and as much of Canada as it could grab, but for its very existence as a nation. With Washington in flames, only a valiant defense at Fort McHenry saved Baltimore from a similar fate.
Here are the stories of commanding generals such as America's Henry "Granny" Dearborn, double-dealing James Wilkinson, and feisty Andrew Jackson, as well as Great Britain's gallant Sir Isaac Brock, overly cautious Sir George Prevost, and Rear Admiral George Cockburn, the man who put the torch to Washington. Here too are those inadvertently caught up in the war, from heroine farm wife Laura Secord, whom some call Canada's Paul Revere, to country doctor William Beanes, whose capture set the stage for Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."
1812: The War That Forged a Nation presents a sweeping narrative that emphasizes the struggle's importance to America's coming-of-age as a nation. Though frequently overlooked between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the War of 1812 did indeed span half a continent -- from Mackinac Island to New Orleans, and Lake Champlain to Horseshoe Bend -- and it paved the way for the conquest of the other half.
During the War of 1812, the United States cast aside its cloak of colonial adolescence and -- with both humiliating and glorious moments -- found the fire that was to forge a nation.
In the summer of 1754, deep in the wilderness of western Pennsylvania, a very young George Washington suffered his first military defeat, and a centuries-old feud between Great Britain and France was rekindled. The war that followed would be fought across virgin territories, from Nova Scotia to the forks of the Ohio River, and it would ultimately decide the fate of the entire North American continent—not just for Great Britain and France but also for the Spanish and Native American populations.
Noted historian Walter R. Borneman brings to life an epic struggle for a continent—what Samuel Eliot Morison called "truly the first world war"—and emphasizes how the seeds of discord sown in its aftermath would take root and blossom into the American Revolution.
In this unprecedented, long-overdue warts-and-all look at Polk’s life and career, we have a portrait of an expansionist president and decisive statesman who redefined the country he led, and we are reminded anew of the true meaning of presidential accomplishment and resolve.