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George C. Marshall, Vol. 2: Ordeal and Hope, 1939-1942 Paperback – December, 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the George C. Marshall Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Viking Pr (December 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140153977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140153972
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,879,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Michael T Kennedy VINE VOICE on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read the first volume of this great biography and thought that I would stop there as I had wanted to know more about Marshall and had read many books about World War II. Then, I decide to go on and was not disappointed. I thought this volume might be a bit dull but it was not. The tremendous task of trying to get the country and the army ready for another war was a staggering burden for the few men who were prepared. Marshall found his job was immediately plunged into crisis as his appointment as Chief of Staff was followed immediately by the German invasion of Poland and the start of the war. He knew that we would be drawn in but this was an era of isolationism and the army was still in the thrall of a peacetime routine of promotion by seniority and penny pinching. Roosevelt was devious and Marshall feared the influence of Churchill on him right up to the Torch invasion of north Africa which ends the book. There is not a great deal of action but the account of Marshall's efforts to organize an army and fight off the influences that made his job so difficult makes surprisingly good reading. It is at this point when he begins to groom younger men for command and to weed out the incompetent. The army headquarters staff system was one of his problems but resisted solution until very late. His time was over scheduled and he had to find ways to delegate authority. Here is where Eisenhower and Mark Clark came to power. The story of the north African landings, which Marshall opposed even as he organized them, is a highlight. He feared that Torch would make impossible the 1943 invasion of France that he was determined to fight for as long as he could. In this he was wrong, I believe, as the army needed the experience of the north African campaign before it faced the German army. I agree that the Italian campaign was a side show but that is to anticipate the next volume which is in the mail. This is an excellent biography and highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I would stronly recommend Pogue's series if you want to learn about Marshall. According to Pogue Marshall did all he could to help the U.S. win WWII. What is probably less known is that he gave through pure tenacity everything he could to the fighting man except as Pogue pointed out girls for the flyers. That they had to find on their own. When he found out the Army needed something he acted quickly. He even helped soldiers he found out about through letters.
Marshall's role in Pearl Harbor was exhaustively researched by Pogue. Marshall is stronly questioned by Pogue but it is uncharacteristic for Marshall to have sacraficed people to enter the war. Marshall didn't have a very strong relationship with FDR as history alluedes to. I'm up to the Sicily campaign and Marshall seems to have as much say as Stimson on the war and less access to the President than Harry Hopkins.

John Navarra
Daytona Beach, Florida
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ordeal and Hope: 1939 - 1942 by Forrest C Pogue is the second volume in a multi-volume biography of Gen George C. Marshall. It may seem strange for the author to have selected the period that he has, yet, in hindsight; Dec 1942 is a natural turning point in the war. From that point forward, the Allies would consistently beat the Axis back. Unfortunately, this fact, like so many others, is only apparent in hindsight.

By the end of 1942, the allies had landed in North Africa, conducted the Doolittle Raid, won decisively at Midway, and were winning the brutal war of attrition on Guadalcanal. In the meantime, the U S government had formed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, developed plans and policies to provide logistics support for China and Russia's respective war efforts, forged a plan to work with Free French Forces, and built the largest military in American history.

Ordeal and Hope is the day-to-day story of how George Marshall oversaw that transformation. Unlike the first volume, this book paints a fairly realistic picture of a man with normal personality quirks. Indeed, the Marshall portrayed in this biography is not only very political but at times downright devious.

One of the key takeaways from this book is how complex and fast-paced the early days of World War II were. While they had some models of what had worked in World War I and twenty years of academic thought on how it might be fought, leading a multi-national coalition against Fascism was a new experience for this generation.

The real power of this book is that it shows the complexity and difficulty of real change.
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