Book Review: Major General James A. Ulio: How the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army Enabled Allied Victory


by Alan E. Mesches

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2020. Pp. xiv. 202. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $37.95. ISBN: 1612008267

Victory through Paperwork

We usually think wars are decided by strategy, tactics, weapons, and troops, but they are also won by paperwork, and the wholly forgotten James A. Ulio (1882-1958) was certainly the greatest master of paperwork in U.S. history, and perhaps even world history. The son of an Irish immigrant who had served in the Civil War, this is the first ever biography of Ulio, who rose from private to major general over 40 years of service

Business executive and former Air Force officer Mesches opens with a look at Ulio’s early life, his service in the Great War and the peacetime army, and his rise to Adjutant General.

As Adjutant General, Ulio was the chief administrative officer of the Army. In that capacity he almost certainly “signed” more documents than any other person in American history. All manuals and official publications bore his name, and many orders, contracts, awards, and other documents all required his signature as well.

Mesches looks at various aspects of Ulio’s work. For example, Ulio was responsible for processing and issuing nearly 900,000 telegrams notifying families about the death, wounding, or other misfortune afflicting their kin in the service. He also managed the V-Mail system, kept track of the assignments and movements of senior officers, dealt with racial and other prejudices in the army and the nation, promoted the integration of women into the service, procured land for bases and training camps, helped keep up morale on the Home Front, and more.

Major General James A. Ulio is a very good work for anyone interested in how armies are organized and managed.



Note: Major General James A. Ulio is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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