George C. Marshall by Forrest C. Pogue

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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As World War II drew to a close, the importance of George Marshall’s service as Army Chief of Staff became evident to all. The intricate arrangements of strategy and supply, so necessary to maintain the millions of troops active on numerous fronts, had matched the industrial and economic might of America with military strength. At this point, when most men would have gratefully retired, George Marshall embarked upon his most impressive years.

With the end of war came no real peace, because American interests were first closely involved with the struggle in China between the Nationalists and Mao Tse-tung’s Communists, then tested by the growing confrontation with the increasingly hostile Soviets, further challenged by the desperate situation in war-ravaged Europe, and finally involved in the explosion of tensions in Korea into outright war. At the center of all these events was George C. Marshall.

Forrest Pogue’s outstanding biography brings these turbulent years into clear, steady focus and allows the reader to understand and appreciate Marshall’s goals and aspirations. The complexities of the day, from the extent of devastation in Europe after the war to the belligerency of our former Soviet allies, are presented with precision and clarity.

Marshall’s actions, whether proposing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe or removing Douglas MacArthur for insubordination, are shown to be indivisibly part of his character, which was clear-sighted, impeccably honest, and deeply committed to a lasting world peace. This biography is outstanding for many reasons--its scope, its lucid approach, its impressive command of the facts--but its most relevant and lasting contribution is that it is worthy of its subject, one of the greatest men this country has ever produced.