by Stephen R. Taaffe
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2011. Pp. x, 426.
Maps, notes, biblio, index. $37.50. ISBN: 0700618120
Marshall and his Generals
takes a hard look at more than three dozen of the U.S. Army’s senior-most field commanders during the Second World War.
Prof. Taaffe (Stephen F. Austin University), has written extensively in American military history. In Marshall and his Generals, he focuses on the importance of George C. Marshall in the selection and assignment of senior U.S. Army commanders during World War II. He discusses the criteria used by the chief-of-staff to identify likely commanders, gives short profiles on their military background, useful given that most of the men who commanded armies and corps were even then not particularly well-known, and then goes on to evaluate their performance in the field. None of the officers come away without some critical comment, in several cases contrary to popular opinion, such as Dwight Eisenhower, who made a number of mistakes in North Africa. But Taaffe stresses that Marshall strongly favored men who were able to learn from their mistakes, such as Eisenhower. A short “Biographical Afterward” follows the officer covered into the post-war period. The principal flaw of the work is that Taaffe leaves out several important commanders, notably Walter Short, and includes no airmen.
Despite this reservation, Marshall and his Generals, a volume in the UPK series “Modern War Studies”, is a very valuable addition to the literature on the U.S. Army in World War II.