Strategy in Crisis; The Making of a Leader

Being there . . . . with author John T. Kuehn, Professor of Military History at the Army Command
and Staff College, in examining the Pacific War from 1937 to 1945 from the pivotal point of
strategy. As one of the results of 7 December 1941, we, and, of course, our Allies, were swept
into by that time the middle of the ongoing Sino-Japanese War in China. That on-going conflict
partially determined, almost a year earlier, the Japanese planning to finally assault Pearl
Harbor. We all know the four-year aftermath and consequences that followed, especially in
terms of the strategic decisions to be made by us in the forthcoming sea battles and island
invasions for the Pacific. Thanks to his brilliant strategic paradigm, the professor, cautiously and
sensitively, brings us back to those anxious, trial and tribulation, days when our potpourri of
Allied friends shared life and death. They included the Dutch, British, Australians, New
Zealanders, and, yes, Stalin’s Russians. The United States and the Empire of Japan, naturally,
were the two powerful shafts around which all the chaos and destruction had to adapt and
adjust. Author John Kuehn, renowned and internationally respected to this day, knows both
nations’ historic strategies in crises by heart. After all, he served as the Fleet Admiral Ernest J.
King Visiting Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College from 2020 to 2021. He
retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 after 23 years of service as a flight officer to write six
scholarly WWII stunners about our America’s best men and ships, and battles, especially with
the Navy General Board Level, either at the tables in Annapolis, DC, or on deck in the turbulent
Pacific Waters.
After that mentor-exemplar, meet the only general Hitler, Tojo, and their immediates,
privately wished they had among their private, personal supporting strategy staffs: George C.
Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army through World War II. “General Marshall,”
wrote Stephen E. Ambrose, in his acclaimed, “Eisenhower, Soldier and President”, “was the big
man of the age – – Ike, Roosevelt, Churchill, Truman, Stalin, Acheson, Patton, Bradley – – all
believed George C. was the greatest man they ever met.” In biographer Ed Cray’s 1990 life
story, “General of the Army, George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman”, book reviewers and
serious readers alike agreed you had a rare, almost affectionately warm, sympathetic, insightful
book. Ed tells why the general was so highly regarded.
Reviewed and recommended by Don DeNevi
“STRATEGY IN CRISIS – – The Pacific War, 1937 – 1945”, by John T. Kuehn. Naval Institute Press,
Annapolis, Maryland: 2023, 222 pages, 9 ¼ “x 6 ¼”, hardcover, Essentials of Strategy Series.
“THE MAKING OF A LEADER – – The Formative Years of GEORGE C. MARSHALL”, by Josiah
Bunting III. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, A Borzoi Book; 2024, 245 pages, 5 ¼” x 7 ¾”, hardcover,
$30. Visit,;
strat’e-gy, n. 1. The science and art of employing the armed strength of a belligerent to secure
the objects of a war, esp. the large-scale planning and directing of operations in adjustment to
combat area, possible enemy action, political alignments, etc.; also, an instance of it. 2. Use of
stratagem or artifice; intrigue.

A perfect example: the Double Attack strategy of the Allies agreed upon March 28, 1943, was
thar MacArthur should push up through the south-west Pacific Islands north of Australia, while
Nimitz hopped from island to island across the central Pacific, to meet in Tokyo. This strategy
operation was code-named “Cartwheel”, which began the arduous task of cutting off Japan
from its new south-east Asian empire. After the epic victory on Guadalcanal, Admiral Ernest
King, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, had persuaded the Joint Chiefs of Staff that new
operations should aim to throw the overextended Japanese onto the defensive. The question
was where they should be launched, and which operation should have priority. Hence the
immediate need for strategic thinking and decision. Jonathan Parshall, the coauthor of
“Shattered Sword: the Untold Story of the Battle of Midway”, sums up the enormous challenge
John Kuehn faced in writing a succinct, nonpareil, thesis-level narrative of battle designs,
operation miniature, and their specific strategies over an eight-year period. Startling are his
conclusions that the Axis failures must be considered in terms of coalition strategies continued
until the summer of 1945. Not surprising, the Allies strengthened, then toughened, coalition
warfare along all fronts. When Jonathan concludes his critique with, “Laudable”, we triple echo
the shout-out to John.
When Josiah Bunting III’s “The Making of A Leader – – The Formative Years of GEORGE C.
MARSHALL” was published this past Spring, military historians, researchers, retired officers sat
up and smiled. All knew, as Andy Roberts, author of “Churchill: Walking with Destiny”, put it,
“No one could be better qualified to write this superb evocation of General George Marshall’s
early life than author, educator, and military historian, Josiah Bunting. Deeply researched,
beautifully written, and profoundly wise on many personal aspects of General Marshall’s life,
both military and non-militarily, his wonderfully narrated account provides new, vivid
information how George grew into one of our nation’s supreme leaders.” In short, true,
knowledgeable military buffs have been waiting for this youthful portrait for eight decades!
Never has a writer cut through the legend of Marshall to the strong yet humble man he was, his
loves and passions, peak experiences and low frustrations, grace, kindness, fierce resolution,
patriotism beyond description. George C. Marshall. What a president, leader of the free world
he would have made – no nonsense, but, if warranted, punishing, and again, if deserved,
John T. Kuehn and Josiah Bunting III, a very special kudos to each of you! Meanwhile, we’ll
wait until your next arrive.

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