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GENERAL OF THE ARMY: GEORGE C. MARSHALL, SOLDIER AND STATESMAN, by Ed Cray, Cooper Square Press, 862 pages, $29.95.

General of the Army George C. Marshall is best remembered as the architect of the post-World War II Marshall Plan (European Recovery Act) that provided economic assistance to a devastated Europe. For this achievement, in 1953 Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize–the only professional soldier to have received it.

Marshall became U.S. Army Chief of Staff on September 1, 1939–the same day Germany invaded Poland and ignited World War II–and he held that position until November 26, 1945. His realism and foresight were largely responsible for the mobilization and preparation of the U.S. Army in the months before Pearl Harbor, and his strategic vision helped achieve ultimate victory.

Author Ed Cray spent more than eight years researching and writing this detailed yet balanced biography of Marshall (a softcover re-publication of the 1990 hardcover edition). The well written, fast paced, and highly readable narrative places Marshall, his activities, and his influence effectively within the dynamic political-military context of his times. In the process, readers glean insight about leaders that include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Moreover, the author adroitly uses primary and secondary source material, as reflected in the full and descriptive endnotes and bibliography, in this comprehensive study.

Cray’s chronicle, a model of clarity and scholarship, is the best one-volume biography of Marshall to date.

HAROLD E. RAUGH, JR., Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel of infantry and an adjunct professor at the American Military University.