Lacey Wins Crader Family Book Prize in American Values

Pacific BlitzkriegThe 2016 winner of the Crader Family Book Prize in American Values has been announced at Southeast Missouri State University.

Dr. Sharon Tosi Lacey has been selected as the winner for her book, “Pacific Blitzkrieg: World War II in the Central Pacific,” published by the University of North Texas Press in Denton.

Lacey earned her doctoral degree in military history from the University of Leeds and is also a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and Long Island University. She has served as a U.S. Army officer for more than 22 years and published more than 30 articles on military issues in magazines and journals. She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and four children.

“Pacific Blitzkrieg” examines the planning, preparation and execution of ground operations for five major invasions in the Central Pacific (Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the Marshalls, Saipan and Okinawa). The commanders on the ground had to integrate the U.S. Army and Marine Corps into a single striking force, a difficult task in the midst of a global war. Ultimate success in the Pacific rested on this partnership and its accomplishments. Until Lacey’s book, no one had examined the detailed mechanics behind this transformation at the corps and division level.

In her book, Lacey makes extensive use of previously untapped primary research material to re-examine the development of joint ground operations, the rapid transformation of tactics and equipment, and the evolution of command relationships between Army and Marine leadership. This joint venture was the result of difficult and patient work by commanders and evolving staffs who acted upon the lessons of each engagement with remarkable speed. For every brilliant strategic and operational decision of the war, there were thousands of minute actions and adaptations that made such brilliance possible.

Lacey examines the Smith vs. Smith controversy during the Saipan invasion using newly discovered primary source material. Saipan was not the first time General “Howlin’ Mad” Smith had created friction. Lacey reveals how Smith’s blatant partisanship and inability to get along with others nearly brought the American march across the Pacific to a halt.

“Pacific Blitzkrieg” explores the combat in each invasion to show how the battles were planned, how raw recruits were turned into efficient combat forces, how battle doctrine was created on the fly, and how every service remade itself as new and more deadly weapons continuously changed the character of the war. Lacey’s work offers a terrific behind-the-scenes story of the victory.

The Crader Family Book Prize Committee selected Lacey’s work for the detail provided, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the execution of this operation.

Members of the Crader Family Book Prize Committee include Dr. Wayne Bowen, chair of Southeast’s Department of History; Dr. Adam Criblez, director of the Center for Regional History; and the Crader family.

“The committee was impressed by the author’s detailed and engaging account, which provides readers not only with a crisp narrative of U.S. military operations, but an explanation of why they matter,” Bowen said. “Dr. Lacey’s book is an ideal recipient of the Crader Family Book Prize.  Her exploration of how the US military fought the Japanese brings lessons in leadership, ethical dilemmas faced in conflicts, and questions about the American way of war.”

Criblez added, Lacey “marshals an impressive array of both secondary and primary sources, including oral interviews.

The book is “a thoughtfully written work challenging our understandings of amphibious coordination in the Pacific Theater of World War II,” he added.

The Crader Family Book Prize recognizes a first book, which best exemplifies the values of the Crader Family Endowment for American Values: individual liberty, constitutional principles and civic virtue. The field and subject matter are open to any area of U.S., European or Latin American history, but must examine the historical development of the political, religious and economic heritage of Western Civilization, or events directly related to them.

Lacey was awarded a $1,000 honorarium for her winning entry.

The competition was open to books that were peer-reviewed, published by an academic, university or commercial press in 2013, 2014, or 2015; written by a sole author; and a single work, rather than an edited collection or anthology. Works that were self-published, in languages other than English, or only existed as e-books were not considered.

Authors were required to be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Publishers were permitted to nominate as many works as they believed met the criteria. Entries were accepted through Jan. 15, after which they were judged by a panel, including Bowen, Criblez and members of the Crader family.

The Crader Family Endowment for American Values exists within the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, is managed by the chair of the Department of History and is dedicated to education, research and public engagement in the historical traditions of the United States of America and Western Civilization.

The endowment’s objectives are to increase knowledge and appreciation of the political, religious and economic heritage of this nation and the West, and the values of individual liberty, constitutional principles and civic virtue that are at the foundation of this society. The endowment is named in honor of the Crader Family: Stan and Debbie Crader of Marble Hill and Jackson, Missouri, and the late Don Crader.

For more information on the Crader Family Book Prize in American Values, contact Bowen at wbowen@semo.edu or (573) 651-2179.