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Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II (Modern War Studies) Hardcover – October 18, 2011


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Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II (Modern War Studies) + The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea + The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First Edition edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700618120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700618125
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"A cogent, well-researched and important contribution to our understanding of Marshall and his corps, field army, and army group commanders."--Mark A. Stoler, editor of the George C. Marshall Papers

"Provides a marvelous synthesis of the specialized literature on the dozens of leading generals--some famous, many obscure--who directed the military campaigns in the European and Pacific theaters of war."--Michael Schaller, author of Douglas MacArthur: Far Eastern General

"A superb portrait of a group of army officers that deserves to be read by everyone interested in World War II."--Jonathan House, author of Combined Arms Warfare in the Twentieth Century

"A crisply written study and effective introduction to the relationship of Marshall and his lieutenants as they waged war in an extremely complex international conflict. It deserves a wide readership."--Kevin C. Holzimmer, author of General Walter Krueger: Unsung Hero of the Pacific War


More About the Author

Steve Taaffe is the author of five books, including Marshall and His Generals: US Army Commanders in World War II. He is a professor of history at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he lives with his red-haired wife, Cynthia, and their four troublesome children: John, Alex, Tess, and David. His prize possession is a plaque for perfect attendance that he received at his high school graduation. He keeps it prominently displayed in his office, and is therefore subjected to ridicule from friends, students, and colleagues who don't appreciate his self-righteous brand of punctuality. A proud Ohioan, Taaffe longs for the day that the Cleveland Indians win the World Series.

Customer Reviews

This book illustrates that in any great undertaking, the most important attribute is character.
Eddie O
The book sticks strongly to the desire of Marshall to have strong minded, able and capable leaders that succeeded or failed under him.
Richard V. Acritelli
This book is very well researched and full of fascinating insights into the 38 top U.S. World War II generals.
R. Stern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Koba on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Taafe looks at the US Army in WW2 from the perspective of higher leadership - Corps, Army, and Army Group commanders. He looks at how Marshall (and MacArthur and Eisenhower) selected them and how they performed. The most interesting aspects of the book are the discussion of the leaders who rarely get any attention - for example, Devers, Krueger, Eichelberger, Patch, and Simpson - though to be sure he covers the more famous generals like Bradley, Patton, and Clark as well. I consider myself well read but I had hardly ever heard of many of the Corps commanders discussed in this book beyond simply having seen their names mentioned.

The author's discussion of the campaigns and US Army leadership in these campaigns is very solid -- no glaring errors but nothing really new, either. One could perhaps take issue of his characterization of Buckner's conduct of the battle for Okinawa as excessively unimaginative. (The Japanese were dug in on a small island with little room for maneuver, and it's hard to see a real alternative to frontal assault short of bypassing the island altogether.)

I felt that the author could have expanded on the question of why, on several occasions, Corps commanders were appointed from training commands in the USA rather than promoting an experienced division commander. Does the author really agree with the view expressed at the time that no divisional commander in Europe at the end of 1944 was superior to corps commanders who came over from the United States and went into their first combat as corps commanders without ever having heard a shot fired?

On the whole, a very enjoyable book, very easy to read, and I give it four stars rather than five simply because it didn't really shed any new light on the subject of the US Army in WW2.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Hayes on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has produced a highly readable single volume history of the US Army in WWII. Each chapter combines a narrative of a particular campaign accompanied by insightful thumbnail sketches of the American commanders. Taaffe has done a masterful job at summarizing the war while capturing the essence of the army's leadership. It also paves the way for new students of the war; excellent starting volume.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Eddie O on February 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a survey history of the men who won WW II.

The most interesting parts of this book were the last chapter (a summary of the effectiveness of the generals and their common professional careers), and the epilogue which summarizes the individual generals' post WW II careers -- this is worth the price of the book.

This book illustrates that in any great undertaking, the most important attribute is character.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. L. Johnson on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good book. One of the very best books I've read that clearly outlines those generals who participated in both the Pacific and European theatres of operation during WWII. Many of the lesser generals, those one and two stars that actually fought the battles are highlited which is unusual for as military history. AS lot of interesting facts are also given. Marshall's unforgiving penchant for viewing officers based upon his image of what an army general officer should be, which caused him to unfairly treat many officers and in some cases prevent their promotion for no reason other than his making a mistake about a human characteristic of the officer(s). I think what I got out this book was how "elitest" the United States Army General Officer Corps was during WWII! Didnt make a difference if the officer was a West Pointer or not, once promoted to general, most seem to become minature potentates! However, the only way you know these facts is to read the book. I strongly recommend for any amatuer historian.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Baum on July 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a bad book, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn't go far enough. Professor Traffe had an opportunity to make an in-depth examination of all aspects of U.S Army leadership in the Second World War. This should have included generals who raised and trained troops for combat and for support, generals who commanded logistical and technical units, generals who served as high-level staff officers (with a few famous exceptions like Beetle and Sutherland), generals who lead the development of new weapons, etc. Instead, he took the easy way out - as so many military historians do - by concentrating purely on combat operations, and describing the backgrounds and actions of higher unit commanders: corps-level and up. The result is a work that is skewed and fails to chronicle the strengths and weaknesses of the American Army leadership, and one that can only plot the careers of a small majority of American generals in WWII. So while we can learn some interesting facts about the not-so-famous combat leaders, very little new ground is broken here. It's a shame. The book also has some editing issues and, considering the almost total emphasis on combat operations, the maps are execrable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. MacKinnon on March 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Few general readers have any appreciation on how unprepared our country was prior to WW II. Marshall jump-started the process of both building an army and laying out the armament requirements for that Army.

His other achievement was to give the boot to second-rate officers {some of whom were his friends and contemporaries}. He also, in fairness, was willing to give a second chance to general officers--especially those who were pulled from combat commands in Europe. The author gives chapter and verse about the personalities and situations of the general officers, and it is amazing how many had medical problems which, while previously hidden, came to the fore in the stress of combat. I have never seen such detail as the author provides his readers.

Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood faced similar challenges when he inherited the Pacific command of US submarine operations during WW II. Lockwood replaced almost every submarine commander he initially encountered, and then proceed toward a solution to the problem of dud torpedoes. The proof of the pudding was in the results Lockwood achieved with new commanders who aggressively patrolled on individual trips which could cover 10,000 miles and thirty days. George Marshall also brought home from Europe the bacon and saved ours.

Finally, a bookend to this book under review is Thomas E. Rick's "The Generals" which critiques generals in subsequent US wars who were rarely relieved of command and created mammoth problems for the troops and our country.
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