We’re pleased to announce that General Mark Clark: Commander of U.S. Fifth Army and Liberator of Rome is now available from Casemate!
In this book, author Jon Mikolashek investigates into the life of General Mark Clark, ‘The American Eagle’, one of the great leaders of World War II.
As Mikolashek writes in the introduction,
George S. Patton once remarked, “I think that if you treat a skunk nicely, he will not piss on you – as often.” The skunk Patton was referring to was General Mark Wayne Clark. Often ignored and nearly always forgotten, Mark Clark was a member of what historian Martin Blumenson calls, “the essential quartet of American leaders who acheived victory in Europe.” Along with Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, and Omar N. Bradley, Mark Clark was a key figure in World War II.
To learn more about this integral work, we asked Jon Mikolashek a few questions.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Probably later in life than most. I always liked to write, but I was a poor student and better at sports than writing and academics. It was not until college that I realized I was half-way intelligent and stylistically a decent writer. I had some very good mentors along the way, including Martin Blumenson, who pushed me into writing about Mark W. Clark.
What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book? Have you always been interested in history?
It is the closest I can get to putting a flex-capacitor in a DeLorean and going back into the past. I have always been interested in history since I can remember and always thought I would do something in the history field. I was one of the few students in college that never actually changed his/her major!
History does not repeat itself, it is more of a spiral, and you can see common traits in events. History helps you find those traits and most importantly, it makes you think and reflect. That is why history is important in any education.
What do you like most about your book? Why should we read it?
The book fills a considerable gap in WWII historiography. Clark is one of the few Army and Army Group commanders not to have a biography. He was one, along with George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley, and George S. Patton, the most important Army officer in World War II. He played a pivotal role in Eisenhower’s career, and was involved in the war effort before Bradley and Patton.
The Italian theater is important because, while the strategy was flawed, it played a vital role in winning the war. Not only that, there are some striking similarities between Italy and the current war in Afghanistan. The war in Italy needs to be studied more.
How much research did you do for the book? Can you give us some tips on this?
Never enough, but I spent a lot of time, about three years working on this book. I spend a lot of time at the Citadel, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives in College ParkMD. This was originally my PhD Dissertation, so I spent much of my time getting this read so I could graduate!
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on two book projects. One deals with the battle in Wanat, Afghanistan. Nine American soldiers were killed and twenty-four wounded. Controversy has flared over who is at fault. My study is an attempt at understanding the battle and that while leaders and officers made mistakes, ultimately, the blame falls on failed US strategy in Afghanistan and the dogmatic approach to population-centric counterinsurgency.
My other is a major study with esteemed Vietnam historian Dale Andrade, focusing on counterinsurgency.