The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The desire for more extensive commentary should not be interpreted, how-
ever, as diminishing the scope or success of this engaging narrative. Kevin Starr
has drawn together disparate strands into a coherent whole, and thus imparted
undeniable vitality to life in southern California during the 192os.
Calzfornza State Polytechnzc Unzversity, Pomona GLORIA RiccI LOTHROP
Hanging Sam A Military Biography of General Samuel T. Williams: From Pancho
Villa to Vietnam. By Colonel Harold J. "Jack" Meyer. (Denton: University of
North Texas Press, 199o. Pp. xvi+ 183. Preface, acknowledgments, photo-
graphs, notes, bibliography, index. $16.95, paper.)
If ever anyone, be they military or civilian, needed a reference book on
how to lead by example, they should obtain a small book entitled Hanging Sam:
A Military Bzography of General Samuel T. Williams by Col. Harold J. Meyer,
U.S.A. (ret).
The U.S. Army throughout its long and honored history has been home to
some very colorful characters like George S. Patton, John Stockton, Douglas
MacArthur, to name a few. All were outstanding leaders. Another and less
well-known name could well be added. Equally as colorful as Patton or Mac-
Arthur, Samuel Tankersly Williams was one of the finest combat generals in
American history. Through three wars, he learned and then practiced the
trade of "up front" leadership. Where the action was the toughest and most
desperate, you would find Hanging Sam there. Colonel "Jack" Meyer has
penned a dandy little biography on a larger-than-life commander. A book that
everyone who aspires to command should read and re-read. The methods of
General Williams's excellent leadership can be equally applied in civilian life as
well as the military.
Perhaps unjustly relieved as the assistant division commander of the Nine-
tieth Division (Tough Ombres) shortly after D-Day, Williams could have enter-
tained the notion of quitting the army. Yet, he didn't. As a role model for the
true professional leader, he simply soldiered on, and performed so well as the
commander of the Twenty-sixth Infantry (Blue Spaders) in Germany after
World War II that his rank of brigadier general was restored, with two more
stars later on.
The true worth of Lieutenant General Williams shines through the book as
the author takes him from a young private joining the Texas Militia to fight
Pancho Villa in 1916 to the three star command as MAAG Commander in
South Vietnam during the late 1950s. But the final understanding and the best
part of knowing General Williams through this book comes at the end when
those who knew him best-his Blue Spaders and Tough Ombres-tell their fa-
vorite stories. Not everyone liked General Williams (as the author is quick to
point out) for he did not suffer fools gladly, but for those who did, he positively
touched their lives forever. In turbulent decades to come, the United States will
need more leaders like Hanging Sam in all segments of society. Total dedica-
tion to a profession, and the driving desire to be the best as practiced by Lt.

156

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed April 17, 2014.