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The Making of a Leader: The Formative Years of George C. Marshall (Hardcover)

The Making of a Leader: The Formative Years of George C. Marshall By Josiah Bunting, III Cover Image
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A portrait of one of the greatest leaders of modern history, George Catlett Marshall (1880–1959), and a distillation of the essential lessons his formative years offer to the leaders of today and tomorrow

George Marshall’s accomplishments are well known: after helping to guide the Allies to victory during World War II, he set Europe on the postwar path to recovery with the plan that bears his name and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. But how did he become such an effective leader?

By eschewing the years and accomplishments for which Marshall is most often remembered and focusing instead on the decisive moments that preceded them, The Making of a Leader provides the most detailed look yet at the mettle of Marshall’s character, from his arrival as a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute and his Fort Leavenworth days—where he “learned how to learn”—to his instructive time as John J. Pershing’s aide-de-camp and his critical experiences during World War I. Josiah Bunting III, a lifelong educator and former superintendent of Marshall’s alma mater, highlights the importance of Marshall’s activity between the wars, when he led “the single most influential period of military education” at Fort Benning, eventually culminating in his appointment as Army Chief of Staff in 1939.

In this illuminating portrait, Bunting cuts through the legend of Marshall to the man—his frustrations, passions, loves, and brilliance—revealing a humble commander who knew not only how to lead but how to see the leader in others.

About the Author


JOSIAH BUNTING III is an author, educator, and military historian. A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, he served as a major in the United States Army and later as the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute. His previous books include The Lionheads (one of Time’s ten best novels of 1973) and Ulysses S. Grant (published as part of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s American Presidents series). In recognition of his many accomplishments and lifelong devotion to higher education, Bunting was appointed to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities by President George W. Bush. He lives with his wife in Newport, Rhode Island.

Praise For…


“The Making of a Leader is a real contribution to understanding a great American and the American Century.” — Larry Thornberry, The American Spectator

“Today’s politicians could learn a lot from the selfless career of Gen. George C. Marshall . . . Forrest Pogue authored a masterful, comprehensive biography of this great leader. Josiah Bunting has done a fine job of supplementing and enriching that mammoth work.” — Arthur I. Cyr, Chicago Tribune

“Mr. Bunting conveys a keen sense of balance and perception. Keeping a focus on the big inflection points of Marshall’s life, the author does not turn every incident into a saintly miracle or salutary story. Offering context and interconnection, mixing warts and paeans, he ably narrates the grit and dedication that went into making an American leader.” —Jonathan W. Jordan, The Wall Street Journal

“Illuminating . . . A superb account of the early life of an unsullied American hero . . . [Bunting] doesn’t aim to add another standard biography but rather to examine Marshall’s formative years, [and he] makes it clear that Marshall was a significant figure long before he became nationally known.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"No one could be better qualified to write this superb evocation of General George Marshall's early life than Si Bunting. A US Army major himself, Si was superintendent of Marshall's alma mater the Virginia Military Institute, and has immersed himself in all the archival sources for this jewel of a book. Deeply researched, beautifully written, and profoundly wise on many aspects of life both military and non-military, this book will become an instant classic about how to see a great man's career through the prism of his early life." —Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

"Architect of Allied victory in World War II, namesake of the plan that rebuilt Europe—the deeds of George C. Marshall have been memorialized in excellent monographs, including those by Mark Stoler and David Roll. In The Making of a Leader, Josiah Bunting focuses closely on the experiences that made Marshall ready for the Herculean tasks he would later confront. From his Pennsylvania boyhood through the crucible of VMI to the singular challenges of World War I, Bunting provides invaluable, often vivid evidence of a young man slowly, sometimes painfully finding his skill as a logistician, organizational genius, and shrewd political thinker. The author has filled a niche long needed for a thorough, thoughtful examination of the roots of Marshall's success. All of us in the field owe him a debt of thanks." —Paul A. Levengood, president of the George C. Marshall Foundation

"George C. Marshall is rightly celebrated for his remarkable military accomplishments and famous plan. The Making of a Leader expertly reveals the path of formation by which Marshall “learnt how to learn" and enabled this winner of the Nobel Peace Prize to develop the knowledge, habits of character and leadership abilities that were at the heart of his extraordinary success." —Dr Edward Brooks, Executive Director of the Oxford Character Project, University of Oxford

"George Marshall’s commanding presence in World War II was due not just to his singular genius or his distinguished military record, but rather to his unique morality and his innate ability to lead men to do the impossible. Josiah Bunting's new biography of Marshall’s formative years weaves together his childhood, his schooling, his marriages, and his early Army career to explain why and how Marshall became the towering presence of World War II and the postwar Marshall Plan. A beautifully written and analytical biography by a distinguished biographer, soldier and scholar." —Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Second World Wars

“A lucid and penetrating analysis of General George Marshall’s character development.” —John B. Hattendorf, Editor-in-Chief, Marlborough: Soldier and Diplomat


Product Details
ISBN: 9781400042586
ISBN-10: 1400042585
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: March 19th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English