By drawing additional characters into Mr. Smoyer’s story, Spearhead sacrifices some of its intimacy. Reflecting the ephemeral nature of wartime acquaintance, noncoms and lieutenants, civilians and infantry, enter and exit perfunctorily throughout the book’s middle third. Introduced with a sentence or two not long before their deaths, most leave little emotional mark in the reader’s mind ... Except for the dead, Spearhead does not portray a fundamental transformation in most of its major characters: They do their duty. They live, they fight, they kill. Sometimes they die. Mr. Smoyer is the book’s exception ... lays out a tale not too different from hundreds of memoirs by men lucky enough to have survived the war’s slaughterhouse. Its real value lies in its gripping action narrative. As Mr. Makos coaxes Mr. Smoyer and his tank family through a thrilling series of close calls, Spearhead unfolds as a thoroughly enjoyable battle story, and a tribute to the everyman warrior.
... a detailed, gripping account that leaves B-grade images behind ... [a] remarkable story ... It’s hard not to be fascinated with these multi-ton war vehicles, but Makos wisely avoids focusing solely on the machines ... Most importantly, Spearhead takes pains to humanize the comrades of Smoyer and Schaefer ... a compelling story of men at war...
Through alternating firsthand accounts by Smoyer and a German tank crewman, Makos reveals much about the German determination to thwart the Allies during the final Battle of the Bulge as well as the weary civilian population’s quick turn to fraternization once the game was over ... A compelling, exciting adventure of a hard-driving American force, 'the first Allied unit to punch through the West Wall and to also capture a German town.'
The tension, death, and courage that were everyday experiences for American tankers fill the pages of Makos’s book. This moving story of bravery and comradeship is an important contribution to WWII history that will inform and fascinate both the general reader and the military historian.