The Saturday Morning Blogger – The Generals
I recently acquired a book entitled “The Generals,” by Winston Groom, author of “Forest Gump.” I learned that Groom has written several non-fiction books, including The Generals. This book traces the intertwined lives of Douglass MacArthur, George Patton, and George Marshall from their youngest days until the ends of their lives. While they all played roles in World War I, it was in World War II that their military stars rose to prominence.
While MacArthur and Patton have developed a cadre of detractors both in their lifetimes and in the subsequent years, Groom treats them all with kindness to soften the candor with which he also exposes their human foibles.
One of the more interesting tidbits of trivia I learned was that Marshall was promoted to the “permanent” rank of major general (two stars) just moments before being given the “temporary” rank of full general (four stars) and being sworn in as Army Chief of Staff. After World War II he created the “Marshal Plan” as Secretary of State, a plan to reconstruct a devastated Europe than many have credited with preserving the peace in Europe for more than seventy years. He subsequently also served as the Secretary of Defense.
Of course Patton’s untimely death shortly after the cessation of hostilities silenced him at the time when his predictions of the Soviet threat that led to the “Cold War” were being realized. None of the hints of his death being an assassination have ever been proved, but his death was very “convenient” for many politicians and military leaders.
MacArthur lived on to gain fame and infamy for his exploits in Korea – first as a military genius for his invasion and later for his insubordinate actions that resulted in President Truman firing him.
The book was well-written and presented a very personal and very poignant profile of each of the men, exposing their strengths and their human frailties. For anyone interested in world and U.S. history during the 20th Century, it is a worthwhile and interesting volume of entertainment and information.