Book Review: Eyes Only: The Top Secret Correspondence Between Eisenhower and Marshall


by Andrew Rawson

Stroud, Glouc.: History Press/Chicago: Independent Publishers Group, Trafalgar Square, 2012 . Pp. 288. Illus., notes, index. $32.95. ISBN: 0752462903

Eyes Only gives us an intimate look at the relationship between Supreme Allied European Theatre Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall. 

From December of 1943 through August of 1945, Marshall and Eisenhower exchanged hundreds of confidential communications on a broad variety of subjects, totaling more than 150,000 words.  British military historian Rawson combed through these messages, culling out those that do not deal with command, strategy, and operations (e.g., civil affairs, war crimes, promotions, and rear area organization), to yield about 120,000 words that bear directly on the conduct of the war.  So we see the two generals discussing the selection of senior commanders and staff personnel, strategic decision making, the supply of landing craft, the intricacies of alliance relationships, the complexities of logistics, occupation policies, and, of course, the conduct of operations, from getting on to the beach at Normandy, through the Bocage, the race across France to the Siegfried Line, the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland, and the final days of the Third Reich, which take up about half the contents.  Rawson, who opens with a long, thoughtful introduction, presents these documents with only minimal editing, adding clarificatory footnotes and some commentary, which yields an extremely interesting look at the build up to D-Day, the conduct of operations across northwestern Europe, the destruction of the Third Reich, and the onset of the post-war world, which offers many interesting observations on various commanders and incidents in the campaign.

Although not diverting reading, Eyes Only will be of immense value to those with a serious interest in the conduct of war at the highest levels.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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