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Generals of the Army: Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Bradley, by James H. Willbanks, editor

Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 2013. Pp. xii, 252. Illus., maps, notes., index. $35.00. ISBN: 081314213X.

America’s Top Brass

Generals of the Army looks at the senior most U.S. Army officers of the World War II era as viewed by members of the faculty of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Editor Willbanks, author of The Battle of An Loc and several other works on the modern army, opens the volume with an introduction that surveys the evolution of the senior rank structure of the army, which is followed by a very interesting essay on professional officer education at Fort Leavenworth through 1940. 

The main body of the book comprises an essay for each of the five officers who attained rank of General of the Army. Each written by a different author, these follow a more or less standard format, outlining each officer’s life and military career. But they are somewhat uneven. The best is that on Bradley, followed by that on Marshall, both of which look at their mistakes as well as their strengths (though it is hard to find fault with Marshall). The essay on Arnold buys into the myth of deep hostility to aviation in the interwar military (was it hostility or a realistic view of the capabilities of air power in the here and now?). The treatments of Eisenhower and MacArthur are too gentle, and oddly omit MacArthur’s later hostility to Ike. The volume closes with some thoughts on the nature of high command by Ethan Rafuse

A volume in the Kent State series “American Warriors”, Generals of the Army is a useful read for anyone interested in the Army’s senior most officers during the Second World War or in officer training.

Note: Generals of the Army is also available for the same price as an e-book, ISBN 978-0-8131-4214-3 and in pdf, 978-0-8131-4212-8

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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