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Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker: Leadership Lessons from George C. Marshall Hardcover – April 22, 2005
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"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: ""...an extraordinary book."""
“…an extraordinary book.”
-Quality Management Journal
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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Keeping with the goal of accessibility, the book is written in simple language with frequent repetition to drive home key points. Those expecting the book to contain more history will be disappointed, as Uldrich only uses anecdotal evidence to affirm his observations and often times the stories are in nonsequential order, making it challenging to piece together a timeline of Marshall’s life. CEO of FedEx Corporation wrote the foreword, which is the first of many early signals that indicate the material is written primarily for Corporate America and, while certainly motivational, the depth of discussion will reflect that audience and an academic-minded reader will find it lacking and trivial. While the author makes a few interesting insights, the most powerful content of the book is the direct quotes from General Marshall and the parallels that the reader naturally draws in their own mind to perceptions of current political and military leaders. Words like humble, concerned and patient paint the pages of this book, words that have no application in the context of the figures that fill our news, sell us goods and services, lead our military or decide our laws. As one of many examples, it is particularly striking to hear that Marshall spent the first fifteen years of his career laboring, taking jobs with little prestige that no one wanted, gaining little recognition or seeking promotions. In a society of “rising stars” that measures success by how quickly someone is promoted through the ranks, as if charisma and personality make up for the lack of experience and wisdom gained through endurance, it is disappointing that the author did not take the opportunity to speak to the CEO community who might be overlooking the strong characters like Marshall’s within their own organizations. Instead, Uldrich does not question the values system of modern corporations and rather meets them where they are (and those who want to be where they are), appearing to equate material success with character by using examples of Fortune 250 CEOs, asserting one action as indication of the virtue in that individual. While the author is achieving his goal of making a great figure like George C. Marshall accessible to leaders with power, comparing him to the CEO-of-the-week during a time when the gap between CEO and average U.S. worker is the highest in the world and rising past 325-to-1, lends to the overall shallowness of the book. (Institute for Policy Studies, 2011)
While the goal of the book is admirable and the character of George C. Marshall deserves our admiration, the greatness of the man does not make this book great. As material for a motivational seminar, it is a solid introduction to an important historical figure that shaped our world and our country in more ways than most of us realize. I would recommend this book to Corporate America because everyone should spend some time reflecting on the example that General Marshall set for generations to come. Filling the gap of what is missing from the author’s material itself, discussions of how the world has changed and our value system with it (for the better or worse) could accompany reading the book in a group setting, which would be the most fruitful use of the basic information presented and perhaps the best way to achieve the aim of the author who wished for everyone to study Marshall because of the belief that “great men exist that there may be greater men. (Uldrich, 2005)”
Honesty is good.
George C. Marshall was honest. Here is an anecdote and a quotation to illustrate it.
We found a CEO who was honest. Here is an anecdote to illustrate it. This CEO made a lot of money.
Willingness to speak out.
Willingness to speak out is good.
George C. Marshall was willing to speak out. Here is an anecdote and a quotation to illustrate it.
We found a CEO who was willing to speak out. Here is an anecdote to illustrate it. This CEO made a lot of money.
( Repeat for seven more positive character traits)
George C. Marshall really was a great man, and I want to learn more about him. As another reviewer wrote, <<Marshall seems to embody all the great character qualities that I associate with ... the "greatest generation" ...selflessness, a sense of duty, integrity, candor, preparation, a love for learning and teaching others, fairness, vision and caring for others>>
Unfortunately this book does not establish these facts convincingly, which is what a biographer should do. It simply asserts them. Not only is the book short on facts, but the constant jump from discussing Marshall to comparing him to the CEO-of-the-week is somewhere between belittling and insulting to Marshall. And the final measure of the quality and virtue of these CEOs always comes down to money, which was not the point of Marshall's life in the first place. The greatness of Marshall does not make the book great.
As for the CEOs, I'm glad the writer could find one honest one and one who was willing to speak out (and so forth). However, from a logical point of view, the link between these character traits and success was not established. You can say: I found an honest CEO, and he made money. The next question is, compared to what? If you examine fifty CEOs, of whom (let's be generous) you find ten honest ones, and you compare the success of those ten to the other forty, then you work out the math and find the statistical correlation between the honesty and the money (this book's value system is all about the money), then you've made your case (for what it's worth).
I'm also disappointed in the book's failure to match its title: Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker. There was little to no discussion of any of these aspects of Marshall's career. If you're looking for a book on peacemaking, look elsewhere.
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update: if you're looking for a good book about Marshall, try Marshall : Hero for Our Times by Leonard Mosley