General Lucian Truscott Jr., the only American officer to command a regiment, a division, a corps, and an army in WWII, began his storied Army career as a cavalry officer during World War I. The Twilight of the U.S. Cavalry contains his recollections about life in the cavalry as it started to transition from horses to mechanized units. However, it is not a narrative of General Truscott’s life; indeed, one learns more about the General from the preface written by his son (himself a combat veteran of Korea and Vietnam) than from the General’s own book.
General Truscott describes individuals and events at his cavalry posts, which included forts in Hawaii and on the Texas-Mexico border. He writes of being stationed at Fort Myer during the veterans’ Bonus March on Washington in 1932 and his early interaction with George Patton (indeed, Truscott is featured as one of the major characters in the movie Patton). In addition to providing vivid descriptions of the riding demonstrations and polo matches, General Truscott also provides such obscure information as the method used to guard gold shipments as they were transferred from train to the U.S. Gold Depository at Fort Knox, KY. I especially enjoyed his lengthy chapter on Fort Leavenworth KS, where I lived as a child – it was quite a jolt to read a description of my own house.
For those interested in reading more about General Truscott, H. Paul Jeffer’s Command of Honor appears to be the only full-length biography available. But for those interested in learning about cavalry life between the wars, I highly recommend The Twilight of the U.S. Cavalry: Life in the Old Army, 1917-1942 by Lucian K. Truscott Jr.; edited and with a preface by Lucian K. Truscott III.
Review Submitted by: Mary Hall