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Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, George Catlett Marshall (1880-1959) attended the Virginia Military Institute and was named VMI’s First Captain in his senior year, because of his character and sense of duty more than scholastic achievement. In 1902, while a second lieutenant, Marshall married Elizabeth Carter Coles. During World War I, Marshall demonstrated his superior skill for organization and leadership on the staff of General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in France. Between World Wars I and II, Marshall served as Pershing’s aide in Washington, DC, with troops in China, as an instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia, and at other posts throughout the United States. Marshall married Katherine Boyce Tupper Brown in 1930 after the death of his first wife in 1927. He commanded the Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington between 1936 and 1938 and was appointed Army Chief of Staff by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 1, 1939.
“Pogue and Harrison show admirably how Marshall’s early life prepared him for his later responsibilities — his beginning as a second lieutenant in the Philippines, his service on Pershing’s staff in the First World War, three years in China in the Twenties, his exceptionally influential term at the Infantry Training School at Fort Benning, a period organizing CCC camps..., a time in exile when MacArthur sent him to the Illinois National Guard, thereby, as Marshall thought, ending his career, until Pershing’s insistent pressure brought him back to Washington and Harry Hopkins, impressed by his cool efficiency, urged him on Roosevelt. Education of a General is carefully researched, well composed and judiciously written. The portrait of Marshall is sympathetic but by no means worshipful.” — Arthur Schlesinger Jr., New York Review of Books
“A highly readable and thoroughly satisfactory biography that provides as full and definitive an account of the general’s career to 1939 as is likely to appear for a long time... The portrait that emerges from these pages is clearly that of an outstanding officer in both staff and command, with wide experience in a variety of posts and a record for performing the tasks assigned to him superlatively well... an outstanding work of scholarship and a definitive record of George Marshall’s early years.” — Louis Morton, The Journal of Modern History
“This [book] will be interesting to the professional historian for its insights into the early career of a great soldier, for much new material on the development of the military profession in the first half of the twentieth century, and also for its methodology... No effort was spared to make the work truly ‘definitive’... a well- written volume that is, and will likely remain, the best thing on Marshall’s formative year.” — Harry L. Coles, The Journal of American History
“Simplicity of tactics; training for the unexpected; regarding as more important knowing when to make a decision than what the decision should be — these, and the ability to command by obtaining assent rather than by exacting formal obedience, were qualities characteristic of Marshall’s own disposition. And they were tied up with the... conviction... that American Army officers must know how to command a citizen army... the present volume can help to explain why Marshall was a great war leader.” — Kent Roberts Greenfield, Political Science Quarterly
“The volume traces in a superb and detailed manner the progress of the General from childhood to the time he assumed the duties as Chief of Staff, U.S. Army in 1939... This book is a most scholarly account of the trials and tribulations of an exceptional Army officer during the period prior to 1939, and clearly demonstrates how the right man got to the right place at the right time.” — Naval War College Review
“A provocative history of the Army during the years of Marshall’s rise... Because this is a book rich in research and information it raises questions as well as answers them. It promises to be one of the few indispensable works on the modern American Army.” — Russell F. Weigley, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
“Pogue... presents logically the development of a junior officer... The annotations are bountiful and explicit, the bibliography of great value to historians, the persuasive rebuttal of widely circulated views of a decade ago most welcome. This well-organized and solidly written volume is good in itself and a welcome herald of the post-1939 volumes dealing with periods of great personal, national, and international controversy.” — Mark S. Watson, The American Historical Review
“A work very much worth attention... Mr. Pogue’s book... is a fascinating story; it gives a detailed account of the way in which this rather cold and self-contained person became a gifted leader and master of men...” — Bruce Catton, American Heritage
“This is a vastly thorough piece of research... a careful picture of the life and problems of an able American regular officer in the first third of the twentieth century.” — C. P. Stacey, International Journal
“A book which resembles its subject in simplicity, directness, and thoroughness... This is an excellent example of military-historical writing, and an important contribution to the history of our times.” — H. A. De Weerd, The Virginia Quarterly Review