Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker: Leadership Lessons from George C. Marshall

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Foreword by Fred Smith, President and CEO, Federal Express

No list of the greatest people of the 20th century is complete without General George C. Marshall. Winston Churchill called him the ""organizer of victory"" and ""the last great American."" President Harry Truman referred to him as the ""great one of the age."" Tom Brokaw called him the ""godfather"" of ""the greatest generation."" Even so, many people know Marshall's name without being able to recall his many ...

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Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker: Leadership Lessons from George C. Marshall

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Foreword by Fred Smith, President and CEO, Federal Express

No list of the greatest people of the 20th century is complete without General George C. Marshall. Winston Churchill called him the ""organizer of victory"" and ""the last great American."" President Harry Truman referred to him as the ""great one of the age."" Tom Brokaw called him the ""godfather"" of ""the greatest generation."" Even so, many people know Marshall's name without being able to recall his many astonishing accomplishments. Among them:

* He personally trained future generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Ridgeway, Patton, and others.
* As Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army before and during World War II, he oversaw its expansion from a small, homeland defense force -- smaller than Bulgaria's -- into the mightiest army ever assembled.
* As Secretary of State, he introduced the ""Marshall Plan,"" which literally rescued Europe after the war.
* He was the first professional soldier ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize and was twice named Time's Man of the Year.

Marshall's extraordinary career reflects unparalleled leadership traits and consummate skills, among them vision, candor, a commitment to action, the ability to listen and learn, and not least, selflessness. In an extraordinary chronicle and analysis of legendary leadership, Jack Uldrich brings the life and achievements of General Marshall front and center -- where they have always belonged.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Cecil Johnson, syndicated columnist: "Uldrich has done a splendid job packaging leadership advice with history and producing a very readable volume that should appeal to history buffs, business types and general readers."

Quality Management Journal: " extraordinary book."

Cecil Johnson
"Uldrich has done a splendid job packaging leadership advice with history and producing a very readable volume that should appeal to history buffs, business types and general readers."
syndicated columnist
Quality Management Journal extraordinary book.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Leadership Lessons From George C. Marshall
General George Catlett Marshall was more than a wartime military figure from the middle of the last century. He was, in fact, a leader of such magnitude and skill that some have called him the greatest American of the 20th century. In Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker, business author and consultant Jack Uldrich describes the contributions Marshall made to the world during and after both World Wars, as well as the principles of leadership that guided his actions throughout his remarkable life.

In much the same way as he did in his previous book, Into the Unknown, in which he described the leadership lessons that can be gleaned from Lewis and Clark's seminal excursion into the American West, Uldrich fills Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker with the important moments that made Marshall an inspirational historical figure, and with vivid descriptions of the nine principles that made his leadership so effective in a period of world history when top leadership was most vital.

The ‘Marshall Plan'
What makes George C. Marshall such an important historical figure? Although his accomplishments are many, here are a few highlights:

  • As Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army before and during World War II, Marshall oversaw the Army's expansion from a small, homeland defense force to the strongest army ever created.
  • While he served as Secretary of State, Marshall introduced the European Recovery Plan, or the "Marshall Plan," which rescued Europe after World War II.
  • He was twice named Time magazine's "Man of the Year," first in 1943, and again in 1947.
  • Marshall was the first professional soldier to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Throughout his distinguished and eventful career, Uldrich writes, Marshall's contributions to the United States and the rest of the world resulted from his mastery of nine principles of leadership: integrity, action, selflessness, candor, preparation, learning and teaching, fairness, vision and caring. In Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker, Uldrich chronicles the relevance of Marshall's career to all leaders who want to have a lasting impact on their organizations and the world at large.

Uldrich reminds readers that the first 34 years of Marshall's career were spent laboring and struggling in obscurity "under the Army's seniority-laden promotional system before becoming a general officer."

While on the staff of General John J. Pershing, the head of the American Expeditionary Forces, Marshall demonstrated his leadership skills by planning and organizing the largest American land offensive maneuver of World War I, the Meuse-Argonne offensive — an offensive that caught the Germans completely by surprise and is credited with hastening the end of the war.

When the war was over, Marshall served as one of Pershing's top aides, learning firsthand the subtleties and complexities of national and international politics.

Improving Cooperation
After many years as a commanding officer and leader, Marshall's career took a giant leap forward when he became the Chief of the War Plans Division. A few months later, President Roosevelt made Marshall the Army Chief of Staff, choosing him over many other more senior general officers. Over the next three years, Marshall was instrumental in pushing the president to prepare the nation for a global war by instituting the first-ever peacetime draft, improving cooperation between the Army and Navy, and laying the foundation for closer Allied cooperation.

During U.S. involvement in World War II, Marshall's skills as a leader were tested daily as he made crucial decisions regarding the movement of U.S. troops and the allocation of supplies and equipment, and later when he convinced Roosevelt and Churchill to agree to his "Germany-first" strategy that eventually won the war.

After describing Marshall's accomplishments from his early days to his death in 1959, Uldrich dedicates a chapter to each of the principles that helped Marshall become the 20th century's "indispensable man." In each chapter, Uldrich describes several scenarios where a single principle made the difference in his early years as well as later on Capital Hill. Next, he presents the lessons learned from Marshall's actions and shows how they have worked for others in the worlds of business and politics. Marshall's own words add context to his leadership principles and illustrate his own thoughts on the importance of a purposeful vision.

Why We Like This Book
Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker intertwines the achievements of a distinguished leader with the timeless lessons that can be learned from them. By weaving stories from contemporary business leaders who embody Marshall's leadership strategies into stories from his life, Uldrich once again reminds us how true leadership can be put into action in any time period and under any circumstance. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814415962
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 2/27/2009
  • Pages: 268
  • Sales rank: 187,992
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Uldrich (Minneapolis, MN) is a writer, speaker, and consultant. He is the author of The Next Big Thing Is Really Small and Into the Unknown.

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Table of Contents

"Foreword by Fred Smith


Part I: A Leader for the Ages

The Unknown Famous American

George C. Marshall: The Indispensable Man

Part II: The Leadership Principles of George C. Marshall

Chapter 1Doing the Right Thing: The Principle of Integrity

Chapter 2Mastering the Situation: The Principle of Action

Chapter 3Serving the Greater Good: The Principle of Selflessness

Chapter 4Speaking Your Mind: The Principle of Candor

Chapter 5Laying the Groundwork: The Principle of Preparation

Chapter 6Sharing Knowledge: The Principle of Learning and Teaching

Chapter 7Choosing and Rewarding the Right People: The Principle of Fairness

Chapter 8Focusing on the Big Picture: The Principle of Vision

Chapter 9 Supporting the Troops: The Principle of Caring





“…an extraordinary book.”

-Quality Management Journal

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First Chapter

Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker

By Jack Uldrich


Copyright © 2005 Jack Uldrich
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-0857-5

Chapter One

Doing the Right Thing: The Principle of Integrity

[T]he immensity of his integrity, and the loftiness and beauty of his character ... -Dean Acheson, commenting on what made George Marshall great

I will give you the best I have. -George C. Marshall, upon accepting President Franklin

Delano Roosevelt's invitation to become army chief of staff

By mid-1941, in just two years as army chief of staff, George Marshall had already increased the size of the U.S. Army from 175,000 to 1.4 million troops. It was a considerable accomplishment and would have been sufficient if the country were only in need of a military force capable of protecting the continental United States and its interests in the Western Hemisphere. It was wholly inadequate in the event of a global war in which America had to project power abroad-something that Germany's and Japan's growing power and aggressive, expansionist policies portended.

Marshall thus ordered his staff to draw up two separate plans-one for aiding Great Britain and the other for anticipating U.S. involvement in a war with Germany on the European continent. By April, he had concluded that the second option was the more likely scenario and realized he had to "begin the education of the president as to the true strategic situation ... and tell him what he had to work with."

What Roosevelt had to work with, while dramatically greater than what was available two years earlier, was still far short of what was necessary. Even worse, from Marshall's perspective, was the prospect that a vast majority of the troops who had been drafted into the army the previous year were scheduled to be released from active duty unless a change in the selective service law (which enabled the draft) was made. America appeared to be poised to take a huge step backward at the precise moment it needed to be making a quantum leap forward.

It fell to Marshall to convince the president, Congress, and ultimately the American people that the retention of the draftees indefinitely, while painful, was necessary because of the chaotic and fluid global situation. But Congress, always attentive to public opinion, was in no mood to alienate the men who were clamoring to get out of the army and return to civilian life. And President Roosevelt, who had campaigned against an extension of the draft the previous fall, was equally unwilling to take the lead on the controversial action.

Marshall knew he had to lead and, in spite of receiving hundreds of hate letters and being called everything from "Hitler Marshall" to a "Benedict Arnold," he pressed on in his belief that an extension of the draft was the right thing to do. That summer, in more than a dozen and a half congressional hearings, Marshall stressed that the national interest was imperiled and an emergency existed "whether or not Congress declares it." Marshall even attempted to ease the burden on Congress by stating that he personally believed it was urgently necessary and in the public interest that Congress declare the existence of a national emergency.

In spite of the message and his willingness to shoulder more than his share of responsibility for the act, congressional leaders wavered and looked for ways to avoid accepting responsibility for a decision that, constitutionally, could only be made by them. One longtime congressional aide noted, at the time, that in his forty years on Capitol Hill, "he had never seen such fear of a bill."

Congress continued to play politics with the bill and resorted to various games in an effort to skirt responsibility. In one critical meeting, Marshall explained to a group of forty Republican leaders the necessity of the act. Afterward, a few of them informed Marshall that they had been convinced and would support the measure. One, however, responded by saying, "You put the case very well, but I will be damned if I am going along with Mr. Roosevelt." Stunned by the overt, partisan nature of the response, Marshall, who was normally very respectful of civilian leaders, responded in a cold fury: "You are going to let plain hatred of the personality dictate to you to do something that you realize is very harmful to the interest of the country."

Undeterred by such examples of pettiness, Marshall only grew more determined. At one stage during the debate, certain members of Congress attempted to sneak an amendment onto the legislation that would have had the effect of shifting the responsibility for extending the term of service for the draftees from Congress to the president. (This amendment would have allowed soldiers to be officially discharged and then made the president-and not Congress-the party responsible for calling them back to duty.)

Asked whether he would support the amendment-which would have guaranteed the bill's passage-Marshall refused to take the easy, expedient path, and he responded by saying, "I want to go right straight down the road, to do what is best, and to do it frankly and without evasion." George Marshall was willing to do his duty and take more than his share of the responsibility, but his integrity would not permit him to allow Congress to evade its responsibility-especially at the expense of the president.

The amendment was not accepted. However, in large measure because of Marshall's efforts over the previous months, the overall bill did pass, but only by the narrowest of margins-203 to 202 votes in the House. Thus, by a single vote America avoided the disintegration of its ground and air forces. And as the events at Pearl Harbor would prove only months later, America would need every ounce of its strength. Whether Marshall's countrymen realized it or not at the time, they were indebted to his willingness to "go right straight down the road, to do what is best, and to do it frankly and without evasion." In short, they were indebted to Marshall's willingness to "do the right thing," which constitutes the first of his leadership principles-the principle of integrity.

A Life of Integrity

In 1914, after nearly thirteen years in the army, George Marshall wrote to General Edward Nichols, the commandant of the Virginia Military Institute, and uncharacteristically lamented the "absolute stagnation" in the army and announced his intention to pursue an alternative career. He said that while the opportunity to accept the comfortable life of an officer was tempting-especially when compared with the prospect of starting life anew at age 34-"acceptance of my present secured position would mean that I lacked the backbone and necessary moral courage to do the right thing."

Nichols urged Marshall to reconsider the matter and reminded him that he was an "eminent success" and "highly esteemed by everyone" who knew him. Marshall listened to the advice. Within five years, he had distinguished himself in service to his country in the First World War just as Nichols predicted. Shortly after the war, Marshall was approached by a partner of the J. P. Morgan bank and offered a job with a starting annual salary of $30,000-a staggering sum in an era when the average American salary was only $750 and a major in the army made only slightly more. He turned the job offer down.

Marshall never offered an explanation, but the reason for this decision can be found in his earlier letter to Nichols when he spoke of finding the "necessary moral courage to do the right thing." In 1914, in spite of the frustrations of army life, the "right thing" to do was to stay; and in 1919, in spite of the extraordinary monetary offer, staying in the army and serving his country was still the right thing.

In 1916, Marshall served as aide to General J. Franklin Bell on the eve of America's entry into World War I. Shortly after arriving at his new position, Bell fell ill, and Marshall was asked to assume immense responsibilities. Among these was the job of selecting civilians to serve in the U.S. Army Officer Corps. Caught up in the patriotic fervor of the time, a number of prominent, wealthy, and powerful individuals-including former President William Howard Taft and senior executives at J. P. Morgan-petitioned Marshall to allow their family members and friends to be approved for the three-month officer training course. Marshall later said that they "all seemed to think they could get what they wanted right away." Those who felt this way didn't know George Marshall. He refused to be intimidated by power or corrupted by wealth or money. In the end, he only selected those individuals who qualified on the basis of merit.

After the war, Marshall was assigned to serve as a key aide to General John J. Pershing, who had replaced General Peyton March as the chief of staff of the army. It was well known that the two generals did not like one another. One day, Marshall presented Pershing with a portion of the official history of the U.S. Army in the First World War, and it included a section favorable to March. Pershing slammed his fist down on his desk and told Marshall in no uncertain terms that he was opposed to the description, and told him to rewrite it another way. Unfazed, Marshall stood his ground and replied, "Now. General, just because you hate the guts of General March, you're setting yourself up ... to do something you know damn well is wrong." Pershing paused, thought about it for a moment, and then conceded. Marshall's integrity won the day.

At Fort Moultrie in South Carolina, Marshall was charged with overseeing a large number of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) districts through the southeastern portion of the country. One day, a brash young major stormed into his office and said, "I've put twelve years in the army. I'm a graduate of West Point. I'm not going to come down here and deal with a whole lot of bums ... [and] half-dead Southern crackers." The major fully expected Marshall to cave to his demands because of the dearth of qualified officers serving in the army at the time. Marshall, however, had been given a responsibility to train the malnourished and undereducated CCC recruits and responded by replying, "Major, I'm sorry you feel like that. But I'll tell you this-you can't resign quick enough to suit me." The major was stunned. Without giving him a chance to reconsider, Marshall then added, "Now get out of here!" In his book, no one was above accepting his responsibilities.

Incorruptible Power

Lord Acton once said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." While history has shown there is a strong element of truth in the statement, it did not apply to George Marshall. Shortly after receiving his first star and becoming commander of a brigade of the Third Army in Washington, a group of African-American CCC enrollees rebelled against their officers. Marshall had it within his power to crush the insurrection and punish the men. Instead, he assembled the group and acknowledged their concerns by stating, "You feel you been discriminated against on account of your color." He then informed them why they were wrong to take matters into their hands and told them that "[a]s I stand before you here I do not see the pigmentation of your flesh." He went on to assure them that his decision regarding their actions would rest solely on the merits of the case. So successful was Marshall in demonstrating his fairness that when he was done, "the enrollees, to a man, rose and cheered."

Even the ascension to the army's highest office didn't change him. After he was appointed as chief of staff, Louis Johnson, then assistant secretary of war and a top supporter of Marshall in the race to win this post, chided Marshall for not supporting him in his bid to become secretary of war over the incumbent, Harry Woodring. "Listen, Mr. Secretary," Marshall responded, "I was appointed chief of staff and I think you had something to do with it. But Mr. Woodring was secretary of war, and I owed loyalty to him." He then added, "I can't expect loyalty from the army if I do not give it." In Marshall's book, neither friendship nor favoritism had a place in making decisions.

Marshall even went to great lengths to prevent himself from falling prey to the allures of power. He had always refused to vote because he subscribed to the belief that a professional soldier should remain above politics, but he took a number of other steps to insulate himself from the corrupting influence of power once he became chief of staff. For instance, he declined invitations to drop by the White House for drinks with the president and never once accepted the president's offer to visit his estate in Hyde Park for a weekend. He even refused to laugh at the president's jokes. Such rigid policies may seem out of place today, but Marshall employed them as an extra layer of defense for ensuring his integrity was never pierced. He did not want to become intoxicated by the perks of power or allow personal fondness for the president to cloud his judgment.

Doing the Right Thing

When the time came to prepare the officer corps for war, Marshall's integrity demanded that American troops be provided the ablest and most competent officers. Neither seniority, political influence, nor friendship was going to stop him from achieving this end. In addition to relieving hundreds of older officers, Marshall did not hesitate to tell old friends they would also have to resign. In fact, Marshall once ordered a friend overseas for an important post. He soon learned that his friend had said he couldn't leave for a month because his wife was away. Marshall confronted the man, who confirmed the story was true, and replied, "My God, man, we are at war and you are a general." When the friend apologized, Marshall responded, "I'm sorry, too, but you will be retired tomorrow."

Marshall's integrity was also evident in how he treated all people-regardless of gender or race. In 1941, when legislation permitting the use of women in the army was introduced, Marshall was one of the few officers to greet it "with enthusiasm rather than apprehension." An aide of his later said that Marshall supported the bill because he had "a passionate regard for democratic ideals." Marshall felt that if women wanted to serve in the army they should be afforded the same opportunity as a man.

Marshall also gave his full support to the Reserve Officer's Training Corps and the pilots' training programs at the Tuskegee Institute-a program designed to train black military officers. He even made a cash donation to the Institute, which caused the head of the school to write, "I am almost embarrassed by your generous contribution ... for I regard you as already one of our benefactors."

Marshall's integrity continued to shine even in his last official job.


Excerpted from Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker by Jack Uldrich Copyright © 2005 by Jack Uldrich. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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