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Memoirs of My Services in the World War, 1917-1918 Hardcover – 1976

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; First Edition, First Printing edition (1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395207258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395207253
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald M. Bishop on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This straightforward, frank, honest, and insightful memoir was written out by George C. Marshall (1880-1959) soon after he returned to the United States from France in 1919. The future five-star general was only a captain when America joined the First World War, and he left France as a colonel.

On the staffs of the First Division, the First Army, and the Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces, Marshall was primarily a planner. Those interested in the American campaigns in France must consult his account. Marshall thought his greatest contribution to the war effort was writing the order for the movement of U.S. troops for the Meuse-Argonne offensive even before the St. Mihiel operation was completed. It's also clear from his account that he had a rare talent for turning chaos into order under great pressure.

Marshall had, moreover, a unique vantage point in the war. He was able to see decisions by the high command as well as conditions in the units at the front. This makes his memoir particularly rich, useful both to generals and lieutenants. Between the discussion of strategy and plans, there are many fine stories.

To my mind, the highlights of Marshall's account are his meditations on command. In a letter to General John Mallory (page xv), he said leadership in combat requires common sense, fitness, previous study of war, cheer, optimism, loyalty, energy, and determination. "Never ask for the relief of your unit and never hesitate to attack," he said. And this passage (page 138) has stuck with me since I first read the book in 1976:

"... war is a ruthless taskmaster, demanding success regardless of confusion, shortness of time, and paucity of tools.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Aubrey on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Marshall's memoirs--apparently not intended for print--are a glimpse into a strange and unfamiliar era.
Marshall started as a high-ranking staff officer in the American forces in 1917, fighting in Europe. He rapidly increased his responsibility, primarily through incredible talent and, reading between the lines, a brutal work ethic.
Given his description of his own experiences with various figures during the war, and afterwards, you would think of him as being a very pleasant man. He was the most pleasant and charming ruthless son of a bitch you could imagine. That was his job. He had to provide the material, human and otherwise, for the commanders to expend against a ferocious German defense.
At one point, he remarks that the force which can be held to the fight the longest wins. Any soldier can imagine, or knows, what that means in personal terms for the force in question.
At another point, he remarks that an attack worked out better than expected, having only created 5000 casualties. They'd ordered hospitalization prepared for 50,000 casualties, which is to say that 50,000 casualties would be acceptable.
For those following the war in Iraq, the numbers in this book are astonishing. Units in Iraq have memorial services for fallen comrades. When my father was leading Infantry platoons in Europe in WW II, they had too many casualties for that. They would pull the dead into the street where Graves Registration could find them later and move on.
At one point, Marshall refers to a new soldier, untrained and genial, who allowed a French officer to examine his weapon while supposedly guarding a headquarters. Sitting, unbuttoned, on the sill of the HQ, he was symptomatic of the American rookie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Throckmorton on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The review dated July 4, 2008, captures the essence of this book. I'm surprised it isn't more widely known within military circles. It captures the challenges of staff work as completely as other classic military works capture the challenges of command. It also provides a positive example of what an engaged and active staff officer can achieve for his commander and subordinate units (vice a passive one). There are many concise "quotable quotes" within this book (one of which is cited in the aforementioned review), and Marshall's letter to General Mallory on successful leadership in combat should be posted in classrooms across Benning and Quantico. I also found the editor's endnotes extremely interesting (although I wish they'd been footnotes for more seamless reading).

Overall, a gem of a book for anyone interested in the heritage of the Army and the amazing transformation that occurred to bring it into the 20th Century. See "The AEF Way of War" and "Meuse-Argonne Diary" also.
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By Charles W. Kerner on February 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent reading.
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