Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II

Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II

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by Stephen R. Taaffe
     
 

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General George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, faced the daunting task not only of overseeing two theaters of a global conflict but also of selecting the best generals to carry out American grand strategy. Marshall and His Generals is the first and only book to focus entirely on that selection process and the performances,

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Overview

General George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, faced the daunting task not only of overseeing two theaters of a global conflict but also of selecting the best generals to carry out American grand strategy. Marshall and His Generals is the first and only book to focus entirely on that selection process and the performances, both stellar and disappointing, that followed from it. Stephen Taaffe chronicles and critiques the background, character, achievements, and failures of the more than three dozen general officers chosen for top combat group commands—from commanders like Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur to some nearly forgotten.

Taaffe explores how and why Marshall selected the Army's commanders. Among his chief criteria were character (including "unselfish and devoted purpose"), education, (whether at West Point, Fort Leavenworth, or the Army War College), and striking a balance between experience and relative youth in a war that required both wisdom and great physical stamina. As the war unfolded, Marshall also factored into his calculations the combat leadership his generals demonstrated and the opinions of his theater commanders.

Taaffe brings into sharp focus the likes of Eisenhower, MacArthur, George Patton, Omar Bradley, Walter Krueger, Robert Eichelberger, Courtney Hodges, Lucian Truscott, J. Lawton Collins, Alexander "Sandy" Patch, Troy Middleton, Matthew Ridgeway, Mark Clark, and twenty-five other generals who served in the conflict. He describes their leadership and decision-making processes and provides miniature biographies and personality sketches of these men drawn from their personal papers, official records, and reflections of fellow officers.

Delving deeper than other studies, this path-breaking work produces a seamless analysis of Marshall's selection process of operational-level commanders. Taaffe also critiques the performance of these generals during the war and reveals the extent to which their actions served as stepping stones to advancement.

Ambitious in scope and filled with sharp insights, Marshall and His Generals is essential reading for anyone interested in World War II and military leadership more generally.

This book is part of the Modern War Studies series.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
History professor Taaffe (Commanding Lincoln's Navy) documents the experience of George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, as he chose the army's fighting leadership. Taaffe discusses the qualities Marshall looked for, as well as the compromises needed to weld an international fighting force in which British troops played a significant role. The 10.4 million men who served in the U.S. Army during WWII were organized into eight field armies and 20 corps, and Taaffe studies the 38 men who commanded them. He highlights the way Eisenhower and MacArthur differed in outlook and method as they commanded their respective European and South Western Pacific theaters. Alternating between these regions, Taaffe shows how Marshall and Eisenhower cooperated to pursue leadership staffing for their shared objectives, as well as the more turf-based approach adopted by MacArthur, who tried to maintain a leadership promotion process as a patronage type system, within his own command. Despite their differences, the common service background, education, and training which united Marshall's leaders helped address rivalries between armies—and allies—as they pursued victory. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"A well-written and refreshing approach that makes a valuable contribution to the study of senior military leadership in war."

Army

"Taaffe's penetrating look at the Army's 'one indispensable man' shows how commanders like Omar Bradley, 'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell, Courtney Hodges, and their peers were selected and deployed--and how they kept their jobs."

Wall Street Journal

"Provides a collective portrait of the ground army's senior officer corps that is searching and complex."

Pacific Historical Review

"Rarely does an academic historian offer insight into the past and a tutorial on the art of senior-level command. Taaffe accomplishes both. . . . Essential reading."

Proceedings, U.S. Naval Academy

"A cogent, well-researched, and important contribution to our understanding of Marshall and his commanders that explores their conflicts with each other as well as their battlefield successes and failures."--Mark A. Stoler, editor of the George C. Marshall Papers

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700618125
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
09/29/2011
Pages:
438
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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