4 minute read

Earle (Wilmont) Rice Jr. (1928-)


Earle Rice, Jr., is the author of numerous nonfiction history books for students. Many of them are about battles, famous generals, and other such military subjects—topics Rice learned about while serving in the Marines—but he has also written on historical events and figures from the Salem witch trials to explorer Sir Francis Drake. His books are often praised for their meticulous research and their objectivity, both of which are particularly important when dealing with still-controversial twentieth-century subjects such as the Vietnam War and the fall of the Soviet Union. His book Point of No Return: Tonkin Gulf and the Vietnam War received particular attention. Although historians still disagree about what actually happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in early August, 1964, Rice "objectively explains the motivations" of the American and North Vietnamese governments "and encourages readers to make up their own minds about what really happened," Mary Mueller wrote in School Library Journal. Booklist contributor Ed Sullivan deemed Point of No Return a "thorough, well-researched book" and "an excellent study of a pivotal event in American history."

Rice has also written extensively on World War II and the Holocaust. His most wide-ranging book may be Third Reich: Demise of the Nazi Dream, which tackles not only the military failures of Nazi Germany but also its social and economic weaknesses. In School Library Journal, Mueller called the book "well-written [and] readable" and commented that the work "will help students make the connections between Hitler's leadership and the ultimate defeat of Nazism." Although Rice takes an objective stance about the strengths and weaknesses of the Nazi military, he is clearly disapproving of the Nazis' ideology and of Hitler personally. "Descriptions of Hitler are emotionally charged and often interesting," Roger Leslie commented in Booklist.

Rice once told SATA: "I guess I decided to become a writer while still a child, swinging on a swing and daydreaming the hours away. After spending the next thirty-five or forty years preparing myself—nine years in the Marine Corps, the remainder as a dishwasher, letter carrier, draftsman, designer, technical writer, electromechanical design checker, and senior design engineer—I began to write.

"I now write six to eight hours a day, seven days a week, about subjects I find fascinating and irresistible, hoping to share some of my enthusiasm for my topics with readers. If my work both entertains and informs, and I hope it does, I can ask for little more.

"Advice for new writers and illustrators? Milton Caniff, the late, incredibly talented creator of 'Terry and the Pirates,' 'Male Call,' and 'Steve Canyon' comic strips, once said, 'You can't ink-in with a swizzle stick,' meaning that you can't sit at some country club bar and get any work done. To learn the craft and get published, only one word comes to mind: WRITE! There's no other way."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 15, 1997, Julie Corsaro, review of The Nuremberg Trials, p. 1235; October 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of The Final Solution and Nazi War Criminals, p. 314; March 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Life during the Crusades, p. 1233; January 1, 2000, Mary Romano Marks, review of Kamikazes, p. 890; October 15, 2000, Roger Leslie, review of The Third Reich: Demise of the Nazi Dream, p. 450; November 1, 2000, Randy Meyer, review of The Cold War: Collapse of Communism, p. 524; September 1, 2003, Ed Sullivan, review of Point of No Return: Tonkin Gulf and the Vietnam War, p. 77.

Publishers Weekly, November 27, 1995, p. 63.

School Library Journal, September, 1981, Jeanette A. Studley, review of Fear on Ice, p. 122; March, 1995, Marilyn Long Graham, review of The Cuban Revolution, p. 233; February, 1996, David A. Lindsey, review of The Battle of Midway: Battles of World War II, p. 119; March, 1997, David A. Lindsey, review of The Nuremberg Trials, p. 207; April, 1997, Marilyn Fairbanks, review of The O. J. Simpson Trial, pp. 155-156; August, 1997, Elizabeth M. Reardon, review of The Tet Offensive: Battles of the Twentieth Century, p. 174; September, 1997, Marcia W. Posner, review of The Final Solution, p. 236; February, 1998, David A. Lindsey, review of Nazi War Criminals, p. 122; April, 1998, Loriene Roy, review of Life among the Great Plains Indians, p. 153; May, 1998, David N. Pauli, review of Life during the Crusades, p. 159; February, 2000, Andrew Medlar, review of Kamikazes, p. 134; September, 2000, Mary Mueller, review of The Third Reich, p. 254; December, 2000, Elizabeth Talbot, review of The Cold War, p. 164; September, 2002, L. R. Little, review of The First Battle of the Marne, pp. 250-251; June, 2003, Kathleen A. Nester, review of Sir Frances Drake: Navigator and Pirate, p. 160; November, 2003, Mary Mueller, review of Point of No Return, p. 166; February, 2004, Mary Mueller, review of Douglas MacArthur, p. 167.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyEarle (Wilmont) Rice Jr. (1928-) Biography - Personal, Sidelights - Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress