Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith
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Hardcover, Not Avail, 2010, ISBN13 9780813126494, ISBN10 0813126495
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The first full biography of Smith, a fascinating American soldier and diplomat who began his career in 1911 as a private in the Indiana National Guard, and retired as a four-star general. Publishers Weekly,Walter Bedell Smith (1895-1961), Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff from 1942 to 1945, remains one of WWII's obscure figures. When he appears, it's usually as Ike's hatchet man, "a one-dimensional SOB." This mammoth, exhaustively researched biography presents instead a master director of the complex machinery of the combined-arms war waged by allied forces. The chief of staff translates the commanding general's will into plan, and plan into action. That requires focused intelligence, mastery of detail, and sophisticated human skills. Smith had them all. Crosswell demonstrates this in an unusual fashion, beginning the book with Smith's distinguished postwar career, culminating as undersecretary of state. He then segues into Smith's development from National Guard private to George Marshall's protege and secretary, then to the General Staff by 1941. That rise reflected ability rather than affability. But from the first Smith kept British and American egos focused on a common objective. After D-Day he became "a genuine chief of staff," maximizing Eisenhower's strengths while minimizing his proneness to indecision and preference for compromise. Smith was indeed "much more than advertised," and Crosswell brings him out of Eisenhower's shadow. 25 photos; 11 maps. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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