Partners in Command by Mark Perry
Partners in Command (Mark Perry, The Penguin Press, 2007)
Partners in Command (Mark Perry, The Penguin Press, 2007) tells the story of the relationship between Dwight D. Eisenhower and George C. Marshall, as well as the challenges they faced and the decisions they made, during World War II, the postwar implementation of the Marshall Plan, and the establishment of NATO.
From their first meeting after Pearl Harbor in 1941, they recognized each other as an invaluable military partner. In February 1942 Marshall, who was Army chief of staff, selected Eisenhower as head of the War Plans Division, where his first job was to write the initial plan to win the war against Japan. Within a few months, Marshall selected Eisenhower as commander of all U.S. forces in Europe.
The two generals agreed on the global strategy of defeating Germany first and the priority of directing the Allied effort toward an invasion of France, but they were constrained by the need to train and equip sufficient forces for such an effort while simultaneously responding to Japan’s aggression in the Pacific, Russia’s needs in the east, and Britain’s desire to focus on North Africa, Italy, and the Balkans.
According to Perry, Marshall and Eisenhower were remarkably close colleagues who brilliantly combined strengths and offset each other’s weaknesses in their strategic planning, on the battlefields, and in their mutual struggle to overcome the bungling, political sniping, and careerism of both British and American commanders that infected nearly every battle.
Through it all their relationship remained largely professional and impersonal. While each had the highest respect and admiration for the other, they never became close friends. And through it all they maintained their belief, formed as young officers, that a democracy should never fight unless it has to, should never fight alone without allies, and should never fight for long.
The book review above was originally published in a feature titled “Book Notes”, published in the September, 2008 of Amitié, the newsletter of Normandy Allies, Inc. This note was written by Walter Ford Carter, member of the Normandy Allies Board and the team that leads its history-study experience each summer. Walter, the son of Captain Elmer Norval Carter, a US Army battalion surgeon in the 29th Division who was killed in action on June 17 1944, is the author of No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love: A Son’s Journey to Normandy.