Adam Makos
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
At first, gunner Clarence Smoyer and his fellow crewmen in the legendary 3rd Armored Division - 'Spearhead' - thought their Tanks were invincible. Then they met the German Panther, with a gun so murderous it could shoot through one Sherman and into the next. Soon a pattern emerged: the lead tank always gets hit.

After Clarence sees his friends cut down breaching the West Wall and holding the line in the Battle of the Bulge, he and his crew are given a weapon with the power to avenge their fallen brothers: the Pershing, a state-of-the-art 'super tank', one of twenty in the European theatre.

However, with it comes a harrowing new responsibility: now they will spearhead every attack. That's how Clarence finds himself leading the U.S. Army into its largest urban battle of the European war, the fight for Cologne, the 'Fortress City' of Germany.

Battling through the ruins, Clarence will engage the fearsome Panther in a duel immortalized by an army cameraman; and he will square off with Gustav Schaefer, a teenager behind the trigger in a Panzer IV tank, whose crew has been sent on a suicide mission to stop the Americans. As Clarence and Gustav trade fire down a long boulevard, they are confronted by a tragic mistake of war. What happens next will haunt Clarence to the modern day, drawing him back to Cologne to do the unthinkable: to face his enemy, one last time.

This book is without doubt the best that I have read this year, it knocks spots off Sven Hassel because its true. A real page turner, excellently presented by the author, you have to read it; it is a story which needed telling, the duel between a Tiger and a Pershing Tank which just happend to be caught by a Combat Photographer on his movie camera. This duel was shown all over the USA as part of a propaganda campaign after many press reports from the tankies that their Shermans were'nt worth a drop of water. For the first time since 1942 the Americans had a tank that could match German armour and we hear the story of two gunners who featured in the campaign to invade the German Reich. Two enemies who later met to tell their side of the story. A front runner for my book of the year.

Five well earned mushroom heads

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