“Bill McGee is no armchair historian. He’s lived what he writes about…”
William L. McGee’s writing career spanned six decades. He wrote twenty-two books – all in a signature writing style described as spare, straightforward, and – to quote the Marine Corps League Magazine – “as precise and economical as a Mickey Spillane novel.”
Barnaby Conrad said, “Bill McGee is no armchair historian. He’s lived what he writes about whether it’s joining the Navy in ’42 at age seventeen simply to get into the fight, or cowboying in the West in the postwar ’40s, or working in broadcasting in the early days of 1950s and ’60s television.”
Bill was born and raised a cowboy in Montana.
In 1958, Bill entered the entertainment industry. He became a major player in broadcast sales and marketing. His writing career was launched in these years. He wrote twelve “how-to” sales guidebooks and two film scripts, the first of their kind in the industry. Each product was geared to television station managers and their sales reps to train them how to better serve their advertising clients and how to effectively use the little-understood cooperative advertising.
After 32 years in the broadcasting industry, Bill sold the national cooperative advertising service he had created and retired in 1989. He turned his interest to World War II history in the Pacific, the theater of war in which he had served. He wrote four WWII military histories, and an account of his participation at Operation Crossroads, the first postwar atomic bomb tests in 1946 at the Bikini Atoll.
Bill was proud when The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943 won the Military Writers Society of America Silver Medal Award for History. He was proud when Pacific Express: The Critical Role of Military Logistics in World War II made the Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List for logistics.
Bill’s life and his successful transition from cowboyin’ to the business world – or from Levis and boots to Brooks Brothers suits (as Bill liked to say) – is told in a series of six memoirs. He was a “straight shootin'” author and had a favorite saying about writing:
“To anyone who has ever considered writing, there is only one way – ass in seat.”
In 2000, Bill began his writing collaboration with his wife, Sandra, and they became a successful writing team for twenty years until Bill’s passing in 2019. When asked what it was like to work together as husband and wife, Bill and Sandra would look at each other, smile, and claim they seldom disagreed.
And Sandra had her favorite saying about writing:
The strongest drive is neither love nor hate; it is the urge to edit another’s copy.”