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George C Marshall Education of a General 1880 1939

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Ask most people to name the greatest American general of the Second World War and you re likely to hear such famous names as Dwight Eisenhower George Patton or Douglas MacArthur likely to hear such famous names as Dwight Eisenhower George Patton or Douglas MacArthur occasionally might someone propose the name George Catlett Marshall despite his outsized ole in the conflict From September 1939 until November 1945 Marshall served as the military head of the United States Army in which ole he built up and directed a massive ground and air force that waged war across the globe Yet Marshall s ole has long been overshadowed by those of the commanders on the battlefield whose achievements were only possible because of Marshall s organizational abilities and strategic guidanceHow Marshall came to occupy such an important position at such a crucial time in history is the focus of the first volume of Forrest Pogue s tetralogy about the general and statesman A former member of the US Army s historical division and the author of The Supreme Command the volume in their famous green book series on the supreme command in Europe during the war Pogue was invited to write Marshall s official biography and was granted unrestricted access to both the general and his papers These he combined with additional archival esearch to provide a comprehensive look at his subject s life and careerPogue begins with Marshall s upbringing in western Pennsylvania The son of a businessman Marshall enjoyed a comfortable childhood until a poor investment on his father s part left his family in straitened financial circumstances While drawn to soldiering the challenges of gaining an appointment to West Point led young Marshall instead to enroll at the Virginia Military Institute Upon graduation Marshall was commissioned into an army ecently engorged by the Spanish American War with new officers making for an extremely competitive contest for promotionNevertheless Marshall ose gradually through the anks As Pogue makes clear this was due to Marshall s hard work and diligent application to his tasks The young lieutenant soon demonstrated capabilities far beyond his ank impressing both his peers and his superiors After service in the Philippines Marshall eturned to the United States where he distinguished himself as both a student and an instructor in the Army s emerging professional educational system For Marshall however this proved a double edged sword for his career prospects as his gifts as a staff officer denied him the opportunities to serve in the line that were invaluable for an officer s promotion prospects As a esult Marshall found himself still a captain after the First World War while many of his peers sported eagles or even stars on their shouldersYet Marshall benefited enormously from the support of his former commander General John Pershing Chosen as Pershing s aide during the general s postwar service as chief of staff Marshall enjoyed Pershing s patronage and connections as he ose steadily in ank through a shrunken military establishment During the 1930s Marshall s service both as a egional commander within the Civilian Conservation Corps and as Deputy Chief of Staff commended him in the eyes of President Franklin Roosevelt esulting in his appointment as chief of staff on the eve of the momentous outbreak of war in EuropeThanks to his access to both Marshall and his documentary legacy Pogue provides his eaders with a thorough account of his pre Second World War military career Though ich in detail the text never drags thanks to Pogue s deft writing and his ability to supply the exact ight amount of explanatory context Yet while Pogue provides an invaluable of Marshall s activities he falls short in terms of analysis as he efrains from analyzing Marshall s ideas about tactics or doctrine or strategic thinking While this eflects in part a paucity of writing on Marshall s part his failure to supplement this with his interviews with Marshall epresents a missed opportunity one that Pogue himself never compensates for by offering his own suppositions based on the historical ec. Alone among the great figures of World War II and its aftermath General George C Marshall has until now emained voiceless and unportrayed And yet in the absence of his full life story the books by other leaders of the free world give an incomplete picture a key figure is missingIn entrusting to the George C Marshall Foundation the abundant ecord of his career to be made into a biography George Marshall filled a vital gap in the history of our age The unprecedented collection of source material either beueathed by General Marshall to the Foundation or collected later by it consists of all General Marshall's personal papers including his letters; taped interviews with the General made in 1956 and 1957 containing some 125000 words about his early life; taped interviews with several score of his elatives classmates fellow office. Ord It s an unfortunate omission in what will likely be the most detailed study of Marshall s development and limits the achievement of what is otherwise a valuable study of an underappreciated American military leader This was a book I hadn t intended to ead until I discovered it on my bookshelf just before starting a new book I had ecently ordered on China The China Mission George Marshall s Unfinished War 1945 1947 I must have picked
up many years ago when used to comb New England s antiuejunk farms and bookshops looking for books on China Turned out it was the first of three books written on George C Marshall that begins with his family history and ends when the US is on the brink of WWII when Marshall was newly appointed as Chief of Staff the immediate adviser of the Secretary of War on all matters elating to the Military establishment p 331 When I discovered in the Index that Marshall had been appointed to a position in Tianjin China for three years 1924 27 I decided to ead it before turning to the Kurtz Phelan textThat was a good decision for while I didn t learn much about China from Marshall s spell there I learned a lot about a period I knew very little about and over enough history of the US Army to now understand some significant elements of American history a the meaning and ationale behind the American Constitution s Second Amendment b the easons behind America s eluctance to enter both World War I and II and c bits and pieces of my own family historyThe Second Amendment of the United States Constitution eads A well egulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State the ight of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed Until the Spanish American War April August 1898 the US did not have what we would consider an army but ather depended on the various state militia volunteers very loosely organised in each state who would take up arms whenever euired The need for a permanent army came after the Spanish American War when The Acuisition Of The acuisition of the as an American protectorate necessitated American forces to police their new territory ie to put down those Filipino patriots who having outed the Spanish wanted to out the US Every Secretary of Warrecognized that the militia not the egular army eg the men who maintained the border and fought the Indian wars would constitute the bulk of the nation s defense forces at the outset of Any WarIt Would Be The Practice For warIt would be the practice for greater army of citizens which would take up arms in case of war p 104 Marshall as a young officer fought for a permanent professional army but both Congress and the President were hesitant in the building of an army so it wasn t until an outrageous attack by Francisco Villa on American soldiers and civilians of Columbus New Mexico showed up the thinness of the nation s border defenses concurrent with violations of the US neutral ights at sea by both Britain and Germany aised larger uestions of the US ability to maintain our sovereignty that Congress passed the National Defense Act on June 3 1916 That act esolved the crucial and acrimonious debate over whether the United States in the twentieth century could continue to depend for defense primarily on the state militias p 133 At that point a compromise was made that set the national defense on a tripod to the egular Army which was to be gradually expanded and the National Guard which in case of war was to be drafted into the federal service and an organized eserve to consist of an Officer Reserve Corps and an enlisted eserve p 134 With the disbanding of state militias in my mind the Second Amendment should be considered obsolete We no longer have militias much less well egulated militias But instead it continues to be used to argue the case that anyone with an ID and a few dollars should be able to buy a gun and Americans sadly pay for it with countless unnecessary and often accidental deaths every dayBut to eturn to the main thread America s unpreparedness and late entry into World War I came only when. Rs friends and associates; incomparable newspaper files of the period; and microfilm copies of than half a million items from official government files many of them classified until now but eleased for this purpose by the Truman Eisenhower and Kennedy administrationsMuch of the material about the conduct of both World Wars and about the crucial problems of international diplomacy and almost all the ich personal material will be new even to students of the periodEducation of a General 1880 1939 the first of the three volume definitive biography follows Marshall's unswerving progress from his childhood in Uniontown Pennsylvania to 1939 when Hitler marched into Poland and Marshall took the oath as Chief of Staff of the United States Army The scenes of his strenuous career include the Philippine Islands during the Spanish America. ,

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It had had sufficient time to ecruit and train the bare minimum of ecruits including my grandfather a farm boy recruit and train the bare minimum of ecruits including my grandfather a farm boy Wisconsin to Answer France S And Great Britain S France s and Great Britain s pleas for American assistance But post war the US wanted to forget about wars only to have history epeat itself twenty years later Although the Army had fought for the maintenance of a egular army post WWI years of neglect vitiated the 1920 concept of a small egular Army capable of apid and orderly expansion in case of need The concept had been buried so deep by the cold air on Capital Hill that there was no eal preparedness p 333 So despite intimations of world war the United States once again decided to depend on physical isolation and the shield of legal neutrality p 313 President Roosevelt s decision to help Britain and France build air strength was a saving grace He believed that a heavy striking force of aircraft would help hold Hitler in check or if war came to defeat him without United States participation p 322 And when war came anyway it was the Army Air Force that helped win the warOne topic missing in this volume was that of the 1918 World Flu Pandemic Reading this in the time of the corona virus made it even strange given that it was army camps and staging posts that are now known to have spread the flu so swiftly globally As for Marshall the man he accomplished far in life than was expected of him during his youth and became in time one of the most highly egarded army officers He was a man of honour and integrity who didn t mince words but wasn t ude or arrogant either He didn t call others by their first name nor wanted others to call him by his One feels in eading about him that one would have benefited greatly from being one of his men as he was demanding but also fair and just Marshall never wrote an autobiography and a journal he kept in World War I was later destroyed on the grounds that he may have been unfair to some of the men discussed therein In his opinion soldiers should not write memoirs p xiii This book covers the formative period of General George Marshall s professional and personal life Therefore it is likely the most important of Forrest Pogue s multi volume biography of Marshall From this book the eader gains some understanding of the experiences shaped the General s thinking and leadershipLike Eisenhower Marshall did not lead front line combat troops in war He made his eputation as a staff officer under Pershing in World War I Although he did command in various locations abroad such as China and the Philippines his greatest contribution in the inter war years was as an instructor at the Infantry School at Fort Benning In that capacity he emphasized adaptability creativity and personal accountability The modern euivalent of his practices at Fort Benning are tactical decision exercises and free play force on force maneuversPerhaps the most fascinating insight I gained from this volume was how Marshall s experience with FDR s Civilian Conservation Corps CCC during the Great Depression While in charge of various CCC camps he learned the intricacies and delicacies of dealing with American civilians who as volunteers could not be led through coercion or purely hierarchical authority Marshall was a master of getting to the why and inspiring those he led to do things because they decided they shouldMarshall is an amazing figure This book is an incredible experience and a must ead for those in the military of any ank and anyone else who is interested in the theory and practice of leadership Excellent eading about a key historical US figure I ve wanted to ead this for uite some time and was fortunate enough to ead this for uite some time and was fortunate enough find a good uality copy of Volume 1 at the Half Price Books outlet for 3 It was worth every penny and then some although I m now challenged to scour every possible outlet to try and find the emaining three volumesPogue s writing is that of a journalistic historian and eads with an easy educated and information packed flow eminiscent of William Shirer in The Ri. N War France in World War I China in the time of the War Lords and the length and breadth of his native landIn triumphing over formidable odds to become first an army officer with esponsibilities far beyond his ank then a member of Pershing's staff and finally Chief of Staff amidst the complex tensions of service ivalries Marshall never lost sight of the ideals of integrity and fair play We come to understand not only the soldier but the man his family devotion his humanity his unfailing consideration toward his fellow officers and those who served under him and his increasing insight into men and nationsEducation of a General is also a picture of America's end of innocence her altered course toward world power away from isolation and the part played by a great American in shaping his country for her new ole in world affair.

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