Partners in Command, Mark Perry

Partners in Command, Mark Perry

George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace

This is a very fine dual biography, looking at the lives of George Marshall, the American Chief of Staff during the entire Second World War, and Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in North Africa, Italy and finally France and Germany. These are two of the most important figures of the war - the "architect of victory" and his chief general.

Although Perry does begin his biographies well before the war, most of this book focuses on the wartime years. 1939 found George Marshall the newly installed Chief of Staff of the entire United States army, and Dwight Eisenhower a very junior officer, about to rise dramatically through the ranks. Six years later Marshall would still be in the same post, while Eisenhower had led the Allied armies to victory in France and Germany. This dual biography thus covers some of the most important moments of the war.

A central theme of this book is the responsibility of both Marshall and Eisenhower for the creation and maintenance of the Grand Alliance that fought and won the war. For a great deal of the time their main opponents would appear to have been their fellow Allied generals, many of whom would seem to have been blissfully unaware of the importance of their allies to an eventual victory.

One of this books great strengths is its balance. A surprisingly large number of even the best biographies of British and American generals tend to be rather partisan. One side or the other is always right, and the other side is either pointlessly stubborn (the British) or naive and inexperienced (the Americans). This is perhaps most common when looking at the battle over whether to invade France in 1942. This was an American plan, strongly opposed by the British and would almost certainly resulted in a disastrous defeat. Perry provides one of the best balanced accounts of this debate, which involved both Marshall and Eisenhower. It is comparatively rare for a biography of any senior American figures to admit that the British actually had a point when they opposed sending a small unprepared army across the channel in 1942. Perhaps most surprising is to find a biographer of American generals willing to admit that Montgomery was actually a good general (despite his well known character flaws!)

It is also refreshing to read an account of some of the fighting that acknowledges the mistakes that were made, especially in North Africa, on Sicily and in Italy. Perry convinces us that Marshall and Eisenhower were very great men, but doesn't attempt to portray them as flawless.

Author: Mark Perry
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 496
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2007

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy