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Bill Thayer

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Soldiers Unmasked
William Addleman Ganoe

The Author and the Work

West Point graduate William Ganoe (summary biography here) was an Army officer who wrote several books, the best of which by far is his History of the United States Army, which I've also made available onsite.

The present work is a collection of radio talks — mass propaganda (even if I happen to agree with his thesis) — quickly assembled into a book of sorts, as he himself tells us in his preface below. The writing, as befits his audience, is casual, even breezy; sometimes strains for effect, and, unfortunately, gets it; and the finished manuscript would have been benefited from some serried copy-editing.

These flaws of taste are more than made up for, however, by Ganoe's central message. He is a pacifist: peace is best preserved by preparing for war — and wars are rendered as quickly concluded, and as little lethal as possible, by the use of thoroughly trained troops. In this series of talks, he will take us thru the more important wars waged by the United States from the Revolution to the First World War, showing how near to disaster the country came in all of them due to misplaced popular groundswells of pacifist idealism leading to drastic cutbacks in the standing army, with the resulting rush to catch up when suddenly the country found itself in a war, often not of its own choosing: hundreds of thousands of untrained recruits, an almost equally untrained officer corps, poor infrastructure directly causing disease and death, and the clueless guidance of politicians.

The talks were delivered in the winter of 1938‑1939: Ganoe's sense of urgency was right on target. There would surely be no war in our time; besides, it's all in Europe anyway, the United States are protected by oceans on either side.

Then came Pearl Harbor.

The work is inscribed,

George Washington
ever revered
seldom obeyed

 p. i  How it started

This booklet cropped out from a mixture of chance happenings. One day last October, Captain R. B. Lovett, Adjutant General's Department, came into my office. I hadn't seen him since he was a student at the Infantry School in Georgia when I was an instructor. He said Colonel Harvey W. Miller, Adjutant General, 1st Corps Area, thought it would be a good thing for the recruiting service and the public in general to be informed about the soldier. There were so many misunderstandings about him. Would I do ten talks over the radio? They looked mountainous with all my other work. But if you knew Lovett, you'd appreciate how convincing he can be. He put in a plea of public service and I succumbed. The next thing I heard was that the Yankee Network had generously given time to the series Saturday nights. I began December eighth. I felt the first talk was a beautiful flop. I got no fan mail and my friends who phoned me were just pleasant. I suspected they were letting me down easily. Anyway, I kept plugging along. After the third talk, fan mail from strangers in Portland, Newburyport,  p. ii Bridgeport and little towns began to come in. After the fifth talk, there was a flood of requests for copies. Then letters begin to pile in from every walk of life. The copies asked for couldn't be furnished. There were no means or money to get them out and mail them. My friend suggested printing the whole series at as little cost as possible. Well, this is the result. I hope you'll get something out of it.

W. A. G.


What Is a Soldier


What Has He Done


What More Has He Done


The First Game


The Field Meet


The Uphill Game


The Scramble


More Scramble




More Fiddling


The Black Hole


Backing and Filling




Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here appears to be the first and only one. It was © 1939, but the copyright was not renewed in 1966‑1967 as then required by law to maintain it, and the book has therefore been in the public domain since Jan. 1, 1968: details here on the copyright law involved.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was indifferently proofread. I fixed the typographical errors, marking the corrections, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also few.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: The words 'Soldiers Unmasked' in thick block lettering. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book of that title by William A. Ganoe.]

The book is unillustrated; its subject does not lend itself to illustration. The icon I use to indicate this subsite merely reproduces the title as on the cover of my hardbound copy. The full cover illustration is more graphic, but frankly, a bit bizarre for my prim little icons; for the curious, here's my scan of it.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 18 Sep 20