Army Gen. Donn Starry built an impressive 6,000-book personal library in his Glenmoor home. He filled the library with collections of military and history books. And, yes, he has read each one — sometimes several times. Pull up a seat as Gen. Starry shows us around his favorite spot.
Books are lined up in the basement of retired four-star Gen. Donn A. Starry’s house in Glenmoor where others would have tools and the accouterments of clothes washing.
“We looked at the house, and he saw the basement — it looked like a hockey rink — and he thought he could get all his books in there,” said his wife, Karen Starry, a Canton native who is the reason Gen. Starry came to live in Stark County.
Shelved in cases, organized under categories, included in a book that lists each volume’s precise location, these texts make up the general’s 6,000-book library.
“I’ve read every one of them. I don’t put them on the shelf unless I’ve read them,” he said during an interview earlier this year. “Some twice; some several times.”
Models of tanks are spread throughout the texts. Armored military vehicles were Starry’s specialty in the Army. But so was devising military doctrine by using an innate sense of war strategy and his indepth knowledge of the history of the American fighting forces.
Starry, who has served both on battlefields and in war planning rooms, is known in military circles as the architect of the methods by which modern American armed forces fight conventional wars. And you can’t understand the present, the general believed as he was guiding the creation of the Air-Land Battle Doctrine, until you study the past.
“He’s always been a book person, a reader,” said his wife. “In the Army, he initiated much required reading.”
The two-volume collection of his own writings and speeches, “Press On! Selected Works of General Donn A. Starry,” occupies a place of honor on a reading table in the library. But it is more for the entertainment of others. He already knows its contents.
“So often people come in and want to see the library,” said his wife. “He’ll take them around. He likes to tell them about it. And he likes to be down there.”
So much does Starry enjoy his library that when his wife missed him during recent months, she looked there first. Often she would find him reading American, British, Israeli, Russian, or Greek and Roman military history.
Sometimes, Starry reads a novel.
“He reads everything; he collects military books,” she said.
That collection is divided into categories, with metal plaques identifying the contents of each set of shelves.
The books were stored in boxes before the library was built in a months-long process that included much help from one of Karen’s sisters, interior designer Sharon Deitrick, and her firm’s staff.
“I started out to try to put them down in the order of wars,” the general said. “You’ll find them out of order once in a while. Such is the case with books, as with people.”
The route the books took to get to his library was diverse.
“Some, he bought in stores, some, we found in sales along the road,” said his wife. Some are books people gave him.
“His 86th birthday was May 31,” she said. “He got about 15 books as gifts. Everybody figures that’s what he likes, and it is.”