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Anton Myrer — Once An Eagle — The Last Convertible — Videos

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bc250px-Once_an_Eagle_cover  book cover 1 once an eagle OnceanEagle

anton myrer

This war novel is a classic that should be read by everyone.

Once An Eagle – 2

Once An Eagle – 3

Once An Eagle – 4

Once An Eagle – 5

Once An Eagle – 6

the last convertible tlc tv

The Last Convertible (TV Mini-Series 1979) Bruce Boxleitner,Sharon Gless,Perry King


In Love and War 1958 Robert Wagner , Jeffrey Hunter Full Length Classic War Movie English

Once An Eagle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Once an Eagle
Once an Eagle cover.jpg
1st HarperTorch Paperback Edition

AuthorAnton MyrerCountryUnited StatesLanguageEnglishGenreWar novelPublisherHarperTorch

Publication date

1968Media typePrint (Hardback &Paperback)Pages1312ISBN0-06-103086-4

Once an Eagle (1968) is a war novel by American author Anton Myrer. A #1 New York Times Bestseller, Once an Eagle has been a favorite of American military men and women since its writing.[1] The novel tells the story of Sam Damon, career Army officer, from his initial enlistment to his rise to general officer rank. Myrer wrote his novel to warn against ambition without principle and the military-industrial complex. Sam Damon and Courtney Massengale are the vehicles for this warning. Damon is an honorable soldier who rises in rank by success in field command. He is a soldier of character with his men’s welfare in mind. Massengale has no honor and rises in rank through staff positions by cunning and political connections. He is driven by lust for power and cares nothing for the welfare of soldiers. A television mini-series based on the book was aired on NBC in 1976, with actor Sam Elliott portraying Sam Damon. The book appears on the Commandant‘s required reading list for all First Lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps, and frequently serves as a text for cadets in leadership classes at West Point.[2][3]

Plot Summary

Book 1: Orchard

Covers the young Sam Damon’s years in Nebraska, including his decision to enlist in the Army after being put on a wait list for West Point. Damon joins the Army, and soon enough is south of the border during the Mexican expedition, though he sees no combat.

Book 2: Wheat

Covers Damon’s service in World War I, including his battlefield commission and actions that led to his being awarded the Medal of Honor. Sam rises to the rank of Major before the war ends, and falls in love with General Caldwell’s daughter. They start their Army career together at Fort Hardee, a desolate fort that leaves Sam less than thrilled and that Tommy despises.

Book 3: Chaparral

This section covers the time between the two world wars, including Sam’s interactions with Massengale, Ben Krisler, and the birth of the Damons’ children, Donny and Peg, as the family move from one military outpost to another, including a stint in the Philippines.

Book 4: Liana

This section covers World War II and Damon’s promotion to division commander, culminating in the disastrous Operation Palladium commanded by Corps Commander General Massengale. This interlude features the death of Krisler during Palladium, as Damon is severely wounded.

Book 5: Delta

The final book finds Sam Damon once again in Southeast Asia, this time as an adviser to a potential conflict in Khotiane, a fictionalized name for Vietnam. He is battling General Massengale’s desire to increase American participation, which Damon views as calamitous.


  • Sam Damon (Protagonist. Honorable, forthright officer dedicated to the Army and his soldiers)
  • Courtney Massengale (Antagonist. Conniver and malefactor, using family political connections to move up the ranks)
  • Tommy Caldwell Damon (Sam Damon’s Wife, Daughter of General George Caldwell)
  • General George Caldwell (Sam Damon’s Commanding Officer during World War I, Father of Tommy Caldwell Damon)
  • Jack Devlin (Sam’s best friend during World War I)
  • Ben Krisler (Sam’s best friend during the interwar years and World War II)
  • Donny Damon (Sam and Tommy’s son)
  • Emily Massengale (Courtney’s wife)

Literary significance and criticism

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf described Once an Eagle as “[a] classic novel of war and warriors. Sam Damon doesn’t preach, he lives his values and they are universal, not only military.”

In 1997 the United States Army War College Foundation published an edition with a foreword by General John William Vessey, Jr. which read “It has been over thirty years since Anton Myrer, a former Marine enlisted man, began the exhaustive and painstaking research that produced this classic novel of soldiers and soldiering. Once an Eagle ranks with Red Badge of Courage and All Quiet on the Western Front as time tested epics of war and warriors. The spirit, the heart and, yes, the soul of the officer corps is captured, as are the intangible ambiance and nuances that make up the life of the American soldier and his family. It is for these reasons and more that the Army War College Foundation has undertaken to republish Anton Myrer’s masterpiece.”[4]

General Charles C. Krulak, the commandant of the US Marine Corps, wrote “Once an Eagle has more to teach about leadership — whether it is in the boardroom or on the battlefield — than a score of modern-day management texts. It is a primer that lays out, through the lives of its two main characters, lessons on how and how not to lead.”[4]

Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, the commandant of the US Army War College in 1997 wrote on the book’s fly-leaf “Once an Eagle has been the literary moral compass for me and my family of soldiers for more than two generations. Its ethical message is as fresh and relevant today as it was when Anton Myrer wrote it during thewar in Vietnam.[4]

The book has also been on the Army Chief of Staff’s recommended reading list for professional development, and is currently on the Marine Corps Commandant’s recommended reading and Air Force Chief of Staff’s reading list as well.


In 1976 NBC created a nine hour American television mini-series, likewise titled Once an Eagle, based on the book and directed by Richard Michaels and E.W. Swackhamer. The picture was written by Peter S. Fischer and starred Sam Elliot as Damon, with Cliff Potts portraying Courtney Massengale. The first and last installments of the seven-part series broadcast two hours each, while the interim episodes each broadcast for 60 minutes.[5] The mini-series concerns the thirty year careers of two military men, from the outbreak of World War I to the aftermath of World War II.

Further Reading

  • Hebert, Thomas W. Once An Eagle: A Reader’s Companion. O-A-E Enterprises, 2006. ISBN 0-61-518709-9.
  • Hebert, Thomas W. Once An Eagle: Notes on Once An Eagle. O-A-E Enterprises, 2008.
  1. Jump up^ “Becker, Elizabeth, “Military Goes by the Book, but It’s a Novel”, New York Times, August 16, 1999.”. The New York Times. August 16, 1999.
  2. Jump up^
  3. Jump up^
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c Robert Stone (October 5, 2000). “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. The New York Review of Books. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  5. Jump up^ Once an Eagle at the Internet Movie Database.

Anton Myrer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anton Myrer
Anton Myrer, American novelist.jpg

Anton Myrer
Born November 3, 1922
Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Died January 19, 1996 (aged 73)
Saugerties, New York, United States
Occupation Novelist
Citizenship American
Alma mater Boston Latin High School
Phillips Exeter Academy
Harvard College
Period 1951–1981
Genre Military Fiction
Spouse Patricia Schartle Myrer (1923-2010)

Literature portal

Anton Olmstead Myrer (November 3, 1922–January 19, 1996) was a United States Marine Corps veteran and a best-selling author of American war novels that accurately and sensitively depict the lives of United States Army officers while in combat and in peace time. His 1968 novel, Once An Eagle, written at the peak of the Vietnam War, is required reading for all Marines and is frequently used in leadership training at West Point. The novel, considered a classic of military literature and a guide to honorable conduct in the profession of arms, has been compared favorably to Leo Tolstoy‘s magnum opus War and Peace. Ten years after publication, Once an Eagle was made into a television mini-series starring Sam Elliot. Glenn Ford played a supporting character.

Myrer wrote eight other novels, of which The Big War (1957) was adapted for a movie in 1958 and The Last Convertible (1978) was made into a television mini-series in 1979. Once An Eagle (1968) and The Last Convertible(1978) became international best-sellers and were translated in 19 languages.[1]

The United States Army War College Foundation celebrates October 14 every year as Anton Myrer Army Leader Dayto discuss leadership issues at the strategic level. This day serves as the capstone event for the U.S. Army War College’s strategic leadership course. The United States Army War College also presents an award called the Anton Myrer Strategic leadership Writing Award annually on graduation day.

Early years and military service

“World War II was the one event which had the greatest impact on my life. I enlisted imbued with a rather flamboyant concept of this country’s destiny as the leader of a free world and the necessity of the use of armed force. I emerged a corporal three years later in a state of great turmoil, at the core of which was an angry awareness of war as the most vicious and fraudulent self-deception man had ever devised.”
—Anton Myrer[2]

View of skyline in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Anton Myrer was born in 1922.

Anton Myrer graduated from Boston Latin School in 1940.

Anton Myrer prepared to enter college at the Phillips Exeter Academy.

Anton Myrer entered Harvard College in 1941 and graduated in 1947.

In 1960, Anton Myrer moved toSaugerties, located among the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.

West Point, where Anton Myrer’s 1968 novel Once An Eagle is required reading for all cadets.

Gen. Peter Chiarelli speaking with Army War College students on the 2009 Anton Myrer Army Leader Day.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts,[3] on November 3, 1922, to Raymond Lewis and Angele E. Myrer, he grew up inBoston, graduating from Boston Latin High School in 1940. He prepared at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshirebefore entering Harvard College in September 1941 with the Class of 1945. His studies were interrupted, however, after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Soon after the attack, he, like many of his college peers, sought to enroll in theArmy Reserve but was rejected. In 1942, he enlisted and was accepted by the United States Marine Corps. He participated in the Battle of Guam and the occupation of the remaining Mariana Islands afterwards. He was wounded in Guam and was promoted to the rank of corporal before being discharged in 1946.

Education, marriage, and writing

He returned to Harvard and graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in May 1947, two years after his original classmates.

In August 1947, he married artist Judith Rothschild and relocated to Rosemead, California. Random House published his first novel Evil Under the Sun in 1951. To support his family, he continued to work a number of low-paying, unskilled jobs. In 1957, his novel The Big War, published by Appleton-Century-Crofts, was financially and critically successful, resulting in the 1958 film screenplay he wrote with Edward Anhalt re-titled In Love and War, starring Robert Wagner and Bradford Dillman.[4]

In 1960, the Myrers moved back to the Northeast to a country home in Saugerties, New York, and a summer home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Little, Brown published The Violent Shore (1962) and The Intruder: A Novel of Boston (1965).

Myrer’s most successful novel, Once An Eagle, was published in 1968 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, during the Vietnam War.

He separated from his wife and divorced her in 1970. Soon afterward he married Patricia Schartle (May 21, 1923 – June 26, 2010).

He wrote three more novels: The Tiger Waits (1973 published by Norton); The Last Convertible (1978 published byPutnam); and A Green Desire in (1981 also published by Putnam).

Anton Myrer died on January 19, 1996 of leukemia[5] at the age of 73. He was survived by his widow. The couple had no children. On February 20, 1996 Patricia Myrer wrote a letter to her close friend, popular Chicago radio personality Art Hellyer, informing him that Anton had suffered from acute leukemia for nine months prior to his death and had been in isolation in a local hospital. She thanked Art Hellyer for the mix tapes that he had sent and said that Anton had died in her arms.[6] On the receipt of Patricia Myrer’s letter, Art Hellyer dedicated a four-hour radio show to Anton Myrer.[7]

In March 1997, Anton’s widow, Patricia, donated $25,000 to the New York Society Library in memory of her husband who had received books from the library by mail at his home in Saugerties in upstate New York.[8] The donation was used to purchase and preserve quality fiction published until the death of Henry James (1916), and serious literary criticism. A special book-plate was designed to be placed in all volumes bought or rebound from the donated funds.[9] Patricia Myrer also donated case leather-bound volumes of six of his eight novels to the library.

In 1997, Patricia Myrer donated funds to the United States Army War College Foundation and the republication rights to her husband’s novel Once An Eagle.[10] The Army War College reprinted the book with citations from the Army War College commandant, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales; General John William Vessey, Jr.; and the US Marine Corps commandant General Charles C. Krulak.[11] The book has remained in print ever since and is required reading at the United States Army War College.

In Anton Myrer’s honor, the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management of the U.S. Army War College held its first annual Anton Myrer Leadership Symposium at Carlisle Barracks over three days January 26–28, 1999.[12] The Department also nominated October 14 every year as Anton Myrer Army Leader Day to provide an opportunity for academics, military and corporate leaders, journalists, and other invited guests to focus attention on leadership issues at the strategic level. It serves as the capstone event for the U.S. Army War College’s strategic leadership course.[13][14][15][16] TheUnited States Army War College Foundation presents an award called the Anton Myrer Strategic leadership Writing Award annually on graduation day.[17]


  • Evil Under the Sun (1951) – The story of a group of artists, literary figures and locals during a summer on post-war Cape Cod. Prejudices, lingering war trauma, and frustration about the state of post-war America lead to violence. Not to be confused with the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.
  • The Big War (1957) – The story of Marines in the Pacific in World War II. It depicts the actual experience of warfare was like for a desperate group of Marines trapped in some of the worst fighting conditions of the war.
  • The Violent Shore (1962) – This novel is set just prior to, and during World War II, centering about an extremely neurotic, witty and beautiful young woman, Sally Marcheson, whose compulsive behavior molds the lives of several others.
  • The Intruder: A Novel of Boston (1965) – The wife of a prominent architect is assaulted by an unknown intruder in her suburban home in Boston. The incident changes the family’s life completely.
  • Once An Eagle (1968) – The story of two Army officers, one a ruthless, career-obsessed schemer, the other his opposite, and their often intermingled personal and professional lives from the end of World War I to the beginning of the Vietnam War. This novel is reportedly well known among American career military officers for its portrayal of leadership ideals and failures. The book is on the Marine Corps commandants’ reading list and the United States Army War College uses it in leadership training. West Point cadets are assigned the book in classes and seminars.[18] It was made into a television miniseries in 1976.[19][20]
  • The Tiger Waits (1973) – The story of one man’s rise to academic and then political prominence in an administration, his love-hate relationship with Boston society, and how he discovers and handles a plot that threatens war.
  • The Last Convertible (1978) – The story of five Harvard men and their coming-of-age during World War II through the early 1960s New Frontier/Camelot/John F. Kennedy era. The elegant “last convertible” of the title is seen by them as the symbol of their romantic youth. In 1979, the novel was made into a television miniseries.[21]
  • A Green Desire (1981) – The story of two brothers from western Massachusetts, the sons of an irresponsible adventurer and the wife he abandoned and left in poverty, one cold, manipulative and selfish, raised in Boston by a wealthy maternal aunt, the other good-hearted, responsible and resourceful, staying with his mother and pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, and the Portuguese-American woman they spent their lives fighting over. Set against the backdrop of the American financial world and the United States’ rise to global dominance from the 1910s to just after World War II.

Film and Television Adaptations

See also


  1. Jump up^ “Anton Myrer; Author of ‘Once an Eagle’ and ‘The Last Convertible'”. “Los Angeles Times. January 26, 1996. Retrieved May 18,2014.
  2. Jump up^ Mel Gussow (January 23, 1996). “Anton Myrer, 73, Whose Novels Focused on War and Nostalgia”. New York Times. RetrievedMay 18, 2014.
  3. Jump up^ Myrer, Anton. Once an Eagle. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-008435-9.
  4. Jump up^ In Love and War (1958) at the Internet Movie Database
  5. Jump up^ “Anton Myrer from HarperCollins”. Harper Collins.
  6. Jump up^ Art Hellyer (September 10, 2008). The Hellyer Say. Art Hellyer Productions. p. 336. ISBN 0615243371. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  7. Jump up^ Art Hellyer (September 10, 2008). The Hellyer Say. Art Hellyer Productions. p. 337. ISBN 0615243371. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  8. Jump up^ Barbara H. Stanton (June 1997). “Gift in Memory of Anton Myrer” (PDF). New York Society Library Newsletter Vol.4, #3. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  9. Jump up^ Charles G. Berry (June 2007). “Annual Report June 2006 – May 2007”. New York Society Library Newsletter. Retrieved May 18,2014.
  10. Jump up^ Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, U.S. Army (Ret.) (December 18, 2013). “O! The damage ‘Once an Eagle’ has done to my Army — and yes, it is partly my fault”. Foreign Policy. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  11. Jump up^ Robert Stone (October 5, 2000). “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. The New York Review of Books. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  12. Jump up^ Lloyd J. Matthwes, Editor (October 2000). “Building and Maintaining Healthy Organizations: The Key to Future Success; Preface”. Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, U.S. Army War College. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  13. Jump up^ “Army Leader Day, Honoraria at the United States Army War College”. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  14. Jump up^ Tom Zimmerman (TRADOC) (October 19, 2009). “Army leadership discusses wide range of issues with USAWC students”. United States Army. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  15. Jump up^ Public Affairs staff report (October 14, 2010). “Army leadership discusses today’s issues with Army War College students”. United States Army War College Community, Carlisle, PA. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  16. Jump up^ “Army leaders discuss challenges, solutions with War College students”. U.S. Army War College Public Affairs (United States Army). October 18, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  17. Jump up^ Tyler Davis (June 9, 2012). “2012 Writing and Research Student Award Winners”. United States Army War College Community, Carlisle, PA. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  18. Jump up^ “Becker, Elizabeth, “Military Goes by the Book, but It’s a Novel”, New York Times, August 16, 1999.”. The New York Times. August 16, 1999.
  19. Jump up^ Thomas, Evan, “McChrystal’s War”, Newsweek, October 5, 2009.
  20. Jump up^ Once an Eagle (1976) TV Mini-Series at the Internet Movie Database
  21. Jump up^ The Last Convertible (1979) TV Mini-Series at the Internet Movie Database

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