“Snowden’s Story” is a fascinating look at the life of a member of the "greatest generation:" Lt. General Lawrence F Snowden, USMC (retired). The memoir begins by covering Snowden’s early years, college, and his entry into the Marine Corps.
Explaining that he has already covered the subject “in another volume [of] an Oral History Interview,” Snowden skips over his combat experiences on the beaches of Iwo Jima, and instead covers a few memories associated with time spent recovering from his wounds from that battle. He then moves on to a rather detailed recounting of his movement up the ranks of the USMC. At the time of his retirement, Snowden had reached near the pinnacle to which any Marine officer can aspire: a 3-star general in contention for the top job, Commandant.
After retirement from the Marine Corps in 1975, Snowden worked several years with the Hughes Aircraft Company—where the close ties he had nurtured with Japanese military and civilian officials paid great dividends. Snowden's connection with Japan is a recurrent theme that runs throughout the book. At the outset, the Japanese were the enemy. Then, as the scars of that war began to heal, he started to appreciate the human side of his former adversary. Eventually, he considered the Japanese valued friends; and he theirs.
Although Snowden explains that he wrote the book because he wanted to tell "my great, great grandchildren (strictly family) something about my life because they didn't get to see me or know me," the book has wider appeal. Snowden's detailed accounting of his assignments during his long Marine Corps career—including almost every person with whom he worked throughout his career—makes an important contribution to USMC history.
The last several chapters are much more personal and moving. This is especially true in the chapter entitled "The Declining Decade," which is a sometimes brutally honest look at the realities of reaching the twilight of life. Sadly, the prediction Snowden makes at the beginning of this chapter—“God will call me home to the Big Marine Corps Base in the Sky sometime in the 2016-2020 timeframe”—proved accurate. General Snowden passed away on February 18, 2017.
"Snowden's Story" certainly accomplishes the mission Snowden himself set out for this book: providing a record for his great, great grandchildren and beyond. More than a personal story for his family's history, the book will also appeal to those interested in the details of a life dedicated to service.
By John Cathcart, MWSA Awards Director and Reviewer
Lt. General Lawrence F. Snowden has experienced much over the course of his lifetime. A true Southern gentleman, General Snowden presents a humble account of his many accomplishments. At the age of 95, his mind is as sharp as a tack, his wit dry, and his demeanor humble and thankful for all he has achieved in an extraordinary life. This volume, which can serve as a companion to the oral history of General Snowden’s military career (History Division, U.S. Marine Corps, 2011), is a gift to his children, grandchildren, and future generations. It is also a tribute to his beloved Marine Corps and to all the citizens of the United States. General Snowden is the oldest surviving member of the Marines' assault on Iwo Jima during WWII. He served his country in three wars, then founded the Reunion of Honor, which continues to this day as a symbol of friendship between the American and Japanese people, honoring those who served on both sides with annual reunions at Mount Siribachi on Iwo Jima. In 2015, General Snowden was inducted into Florida's Veterans Hall of Fame in recognition of his service to his country and his advocacy for elder Floridians. In 2016, the Commandant Marine Corps presented General Snowden two awards for lifetime public service, one from the Secretary of Defense and one from the Secretary of the Navy. After retiring from his military career and a second career in international business, General Snowden moved to Tallahassee, where he continues to inspire young and old with his philosophy of honor, service, and gratitude.
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Audiobook
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Memoir
Number of Pages: 262