On September 1, 1939, the day World War II broke out in Europe, Gen. George Marshall was sworn in as chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Ten months later, Roosevelt appointed Henry Stimson secretary of war. For the next five years, from adjoining offices in the Pentagon, Marshall and Stimson headed the army machine that ground down the Axis. Theirs was one of the most consequential collaborations of the twentieth century. A dual biography of these two remarkable Americans, The Partnership tells the story of how they worked together to win World War II and reshape not only the United States, but the world.
The general and the secretary traveled very different paths to power. Educated at Yale, where he was Skull and Bones, and at Harvard Law, Henry Stimson joined the Wall Street law firm of Elihu Root, future secretary of war and state himself, and married the descendant of a Founding Father. He went on to serve as secretary of war under Taft, governor-general of the Philippines, and secretary of state under Hoover. An internationalist Republican with a track record, Stimson ticked the boxes for FDR, who was in the middle of a reelection campaign at the time. Thirteen years younger, George Marshall graduated in the middle of his class from the Virginia Military Institute (not West Point), then began the standard, and very slow, climb up the army ranks. During World War I he performed brilliant staff work for General Pershing. After a string of postings, Marshall ended up in Washington in the 1930s and impressed FDR with his honesty, securing his appointment as chief of staff.
Marshall and Stimson were two very different men who combined with a dazzling synergy to lead the American military effort in World War II, in roles that blended politics, diplomacy, and bureaucracy in addition to warfighting. They transformed an outdated, poorly equipped army into a modern fighting force of millions of men capable of fighting around the globe. They, and Marshall in particular, identified the soldiers, from Patton and Eisenhower to Bradley and McNair, best suited for high command. They helped develop worldwide strategy and logistics for battles like D-Day and the Bulge. They collaborated with Allies like Winston Churchill. They worked well with their cagey commander-in-chief. They planned for the postwar world. They made decisions, from the atomic bombs to the division of Europe, that would echo for decades. There were mistakes and disagreements, but the partnership of Marshall and Stimson was, all in all, a bravura performance, a master class in leadership and teamwork.
In the tradition of group biographies like the classic The Wise Men, The Partnership shines a spotlight on two giants, telling the fascinating stories of each man, the dramatic story of their collaboration, and the epic story of the United States in World War II.
Edward “Ted” Aldrich is an international banker and commodity specialist. He and his wife, Susie, have three children and live in Westport, Connecticut.
A joint biography of Stimson and Marshall, two pillars of the American Century, is a valuable addition to history.
If the American Century had two gods, they would be Henry Stimson and George Marshall. No two men did more to shape the basic international order of the 20th century than these two men. As Secretary of War and Secretary of State in three different administrations, Stimson was the original Wise Man, the statesman who was the central icon of the foreign policy establishment that created and presided over the system of free trade and security alliances that literally lifted the world from devastation to prosperity after World War II. At the Pentagon during World War II, an open door connected Stimson’s office to that of General Marshall, the Organizer of Victory who later gave his name to the plan that rebuilt Europe.
Ted Aldrich has written a wonderfully interesting, thoroughly compelling joint biography of Stimson and Marshall. He gets at the forces that shaped these men and made them so alike—their extraordinary self-discipline and drive to power that was at once wildly ambitious and yet personally humble.
The contrast to the current day will pop out at readers. Aldrich writes with a confident, readable style that carries you along. Through these men we remember how America truly did become great. At the same time, Aldrich has a clear eye about their foibles and blind spots. Stimson and Marshall were Olympian figures, yet in Aldrich’s capable hands, human and relatable.
As Ted Aldrich shows in fascinating, often gripping detail, America was supremely fortunate to have—in George Marshall and Henry Stimson—two extraordinary public servants who worked in close concert to help guide America to victory in World War II. Marshall was Army chief of staff while Stimson was secretary of war, and as Aldrich makes clear, they were men of unimpeachable integrity and an unusually strong sense of duty. If you’re looking for an inspiring tale about heroes in our past, you could do no better than to start here.
This is a long overdue book about how a Wall Street lawyer and an Army lifer teamed up to win World War II and set the gold standard for civilian oversight of the military. With new and penetrating insights, Ted Aldrich examines the collaborative relationship between Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, individuals of matchless integrity and strength of character. Working together, always with an open door between adjoining offices, their achievements provide lessons in ethical leadership, bipartisanship, and candor that are so badly needed today.
Ted Aldrich uses the fascinating lives of Henry Stimson and George C. Marshall, two founding fathers of the American foreign policy establishment, to reveal much about the American Century. Aldrich’s double biography is gracefully written and insightful. The Partnership will appeal to any reader who savors an insider’s account of the decision-making that led to victory by the Allies during World War II…an invaluable addition to the literature on the war.
NetGalley Review: 5 stars
Last updated on 13 Dec 2021
"The partnership of George C. Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson was responsible for the prosecution and planning of the Second World War. There have been numerous quality biographies of George marshall, but where the true new insight is found in this book are the details about the largely forgotten Henry Stimson. Well worth the time especially for those who are unaware of Stimson and his vital role in the Victory over Fascism."—Casper Hileman, educator at City of Suffolk
“This highly readable account of the lives of two of the most consequential people in the United States’ involvement in the Second World War will appeal to those interested in U.S. history and biography.”-Library Journal (starred review)
In this superb and deeply researched first book, independent scholar Aldrich covers the lives and careers of FDR’s Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson (1867–1950) and FDR’s Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (1880–1959). During the Second World War, Aldrich argues, these two men, brought together by President Roosevelt, formed a powerful working partnership second to none in the military history of the United States. Each man, through their strength of character, led by example and demanded much of their subordinates while also demanding much of themselves. They shared a similar view of American defense efforts: Stimson was a staunch interventionist, while Marshall believed the U.S. needed a well-trained and well-equipped army at the ready. While much has been written about the relationships of the United States’ top battlefield commanders, little has been written about the relationships between the nation’s civilian and military leadership. Aldrich’s dual biography fills that niche very well and gives good insight into the lives of Stimson and Marshall. VERDICT This highly readable account of the lives of two of the most consequential people in the United States’ involvement in the Second World War will appeal to those interested in U.S. history and biography.
"Edward Farley Aldrich examines the two men with a fine-tooth comb and leaves the reader more than satisfied with the research and his views on Stimson and Marshall, through thick and thin. A notable book for 2022."