Robert Coram is a national treasure and the recent release of BRUTE confirms his position as one of America's premier military biographers. Mr. Coram took the straight and true method of portraying a genuine great man, but not in absence of his humanity. As Norman Maclean observes in his classic A River Runs Through It, man is a "damned mess;" even the great and the hero has flaws, and General Krulak was no exception. Coram correctly observes in the Acknowledgements:
"Some aspects of Brute Krulak's early years are disturbing. I elected to take an explanatory stance toward those years. Some will say I should have replaced the frail reed of sympathy with the righteous sword of judgement. But my sins as a young man were scarlet, and they were many. I do not consider those green actions the defining moments of my life and if I am to be measured, let it be by the deeds of my later years. Here I afforded Brute Krulak what I would ask for myself."
Wow! It would be nice if more biographer's used such a perspective; as a great man once said to me, "It is not how you start, it is how you finish."
General Krulak did his Corps proud and sometimes it was not pretty, but he held a passionate love for his country and his Corps. Mr. Coram presents a man of single minded purpose, who kept his Corps relevant because he knew that is what America wanted and continues to need. Mr. Coram traces the life story of a man driven to achieve and contribute. From General Krulak's contributions to the development in the years leading up to WWII of amphibious warfare as a core competency to his largely rejected ideas of counterinsurgency warfare in Vietnam, Mr. Coram paints the portrait of a man of substance, intellect, and passion. Our country needs more senior officers who have the courage of their convictions and tell the truth to their civilian leaders---especially when what needs to be said isn't pleasant.
I read BRUTE in two sittings and enjoyed it thoroughly.
If you enjoyed Mr. Coram's biographies of John Boyd and Bud Day, get this book and read it! Highest recommendation!!