The Dark Side of Glory
by Richard McMahon
“Had I known what lay ahead, I might not have agreed to write the life story of General Philip Sheridan Coursen,” says Matthew Clark, at the beginning of The Dark Side of Glory. “But, deep inside many of us, lies a taste for mystery, violence, and off-beat sex, and through the lifeless eyes of General Coursen I was destined to encounter plenty of both.”
Matthew Clark has been hired by Miriam Coursen to write a biography of her deceased husband. Coursen, a highly decorated Army officer, earned a sterling reputation in World War II, and achieved renown in Korea as an outstanding combat commander. Matthew’s research takes him back to U. S. occupied Japan in 1950, six months prior to the Korean War. Lt. Col. Philip Coursen, a newly assigned commander, attempts to bring discipline and competence to the Tenth Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion. Soft occupation duty has turned the men of the Tenth into lazy, untrained time-servers, who bitterly resent his efforts. “Booze and broads is all that anybody in this outfit cares about,” a senior NCO tells Coursen.
Matthew traces the Tenth from its slow buildup to combat readiness, to its achieving fame in the Korean War under the leadership of Coursen. But, as Matthew’s research unfolds, he learns that Coursen is a strong suspect in a covered-up murder, may have had a secret Japanese mistress and fathered a daughter by her, and possibly engaged in abnormal sexual practices. As he delves deeper, Matthew struggles to determine the true story of Philip Coursen. When he finally does so, he is completely unprepared for the shocking conclusion he unearths.
The book focuses on five characters: Philip Coursen, who appears at first to be the perfect Army officer, but who is revealed to have an increasingly mysterious dark side, Miriam Coursen, equally perfect Army wife, who may hide a secret agenda, Calvin Carter, an idealistic young West Pointer, beset with guilt as a result of his clandestine affair with another officer’s wife, Samantha Winstead, the beautiful, vivacious cause of Calvin Carter’s discomfort, and Matthew Clark, who becomes more drawn into his research after falling in love with the young woman who claims to be Coursen’s secret daughter.