By Thomas M. Hatfield
Full disclosure: Tom Hatfield is a personal friend, and I, among others, provided financial support for the publication of this book.
Earl Rudder is a true hero. His exploits as leader of the Army Rangers’ D-Day assault on the vertical cliffs of Pointe du Hoc are one of the legends of World War II, or any war. The author retells this story in great detail, emphasizing Rudder’s leadership qualities.
Rudder is the complete story of the subject’s life, including his family background in rural West Texas, schooling, college, employment as a football coach, and call-up to military service as America began to prepare for war. The largest section of the book is, of course, Earl Rudder’s experiences in World War II, which included not just the D-Day invasion, but the Battle of the Bulge as well.
Rudder’s post-war years are less well-known, especially to non-Texans. He entered public service and reformed two corrupt Texas state agencies. He next became Vice President, then President, of Texas A&M College and instituted changes emphasizing academic achievement, ending compulsory military training, and admitting women students. What was a tradition-bound College became a first-rank University. This was a revolution in an institution noted for resistance to change and pride of history. How Rudder pulled this off is a highlight of the book.
One does not have to be a Texan to enjoy reading the story of a remarkable and heroic life.
Rudder: From Leader to Legend by Thomas M. Hatfield. Texas A&M University Press, 2011.