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The Principal Officers Behind Histories Great Commanders, Napoleonic Wars to World War I
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591149903
  • Binding: Hardcover and eBook
  • Era:
  • Number of Pages: 288
  • Subject: History
  • Date Available: May 2008
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The two-volume Chief of Staff examines the history, development, and role of the military duty position of the chief of staff. Many books have studied history's great commanders and the art of command. None have focused exclusively on the chief of staff­−that key staff officer responsible for translating the ideas of the commander into practical plans that common soldiers can execute successfully on the battlefield. In some cases, it is almost impossible to think of certain great commanders without also thinking of their chief of staff. Napoleon's chief of staff Berthier and Eisenhower's chief of staff Bedell Smith are two examples that are profiled in this work. Zabecki and his collaborators examine the history, development, and role of the chief of staff primarily through profiles of the most important practitioners of the art. These books are published in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army.

Maj. Gen. David T. Zabecki, editor of Vietnam magazine and author of several military history books, served as an infantry rifleman in Vietnam. After earning his commission, he was an operations officer, intelligence officer, a chief of staff. In 2003 he was the senior security adviser on the U.S. Coordinating and Monitoring Mission in Israel, where he was responsible for the Roadmap to Peace negotiations between the Israeli Defense Force and the Palestinian Authority's multiple security organizations. He lives in Germany.

"Overall, these two volumes will be valuable for those interested in the evolution of command systems, and the individual biographies are valuable reading for those interested in the times of the individuals covered…Most importantly these volumes remind us that higher command is really a team activity: behind every great Commander, there stands a Chief of Staff to making him look good." —David Emery, The Journal of Military History

"Other than that of the commander, no position in a large modern military organization is as important as that of chief of staff. Yet, few aside from those senior officers fortunate enough to have had the services of a capable chief of staff understand the central role played by the holder of this key billet. Military commentators and historians have written surprisingly little about either the position or its most notable occupants.   With these two volumes retired U.S. Army Major General David T. Zabecki makes a significant contribution to overcoming this deficiency and gives a wide audience an invaluable resource. I learned much in reading this long overdue work and commend it to all practitioners, researchers, and students of the military profession." —Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)

"David Zabecki has edited a splendid 2 volume work on Chiefs of Staff, that linchpin position on the military staff, where as Moltke put it is done 'that meticulous and anonymous work that wins wars.'   Those he has chosen perfectly illustrate the profoundly important role of 'the chief' in leading and harmonizing the efforts toward a 'fully integrated, high performing staff.'  Zabecki knows how staffs work through both his rigorous study and his own experiences and he has done a superb job of telling the story of how the profession evolved and the concept matured in the last two centuries.  The 'information age' has done nothing but make the concept and the relationships even more important in this new century.  This work should be a permanent fixture at Staff and War Colleges throughout the profession." —Maj. Gen. William A. Stofft, U.S. Army (Ret.), Commandant at the US Army War College, 1991-94

"This important book is essential reading for anyone seeking a better understanding of the crucial role of the military chief of staff, and in particular of the critical relationship between chief of staff and commander—essential reading, not least, for all aspiring chiefs of staff and commanders." —Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, Director of the UK Defence Academy

"One of the most intriguing military history books published in recent years! Zabecki's apt choice of Chiefs of Staff and selection of competent authors is striking: He has looked into military history of the previous two centuries from a new angle. Why did it take so long until a historian ventured into this gap in international research?" —Colonel Dr. Karl-Heinz Frieser, Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, Potsdam, author of The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West

"Long overdue, this is the first comprehensive study that focuses exclusively on the role of the operational-level chief of staff.  It addresses a long unfilled gap in understanding about how military decisions are made and carried out.  Tracing the evolution of the role of the chief of staff from the Napoleonic Wars through Vietnam by examining the lives and service of those who toiled in the shadows of the great commanders, this insightful two-volume set of essays by distinguished military historians breaks new ground.  Looking at both process and personalities, the contributors provide very useful and unique insights into the complex relationships between commanders and their principle staff officers, while at the same time giving an appreciation for how military staffs and planning have evolved over time.  Meticulously documented and extremely well written, this book is an important addition to the historiography of the profession of arms." —James H. Willbanks, PhD, Director, Department of Military History, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, author of Abandoning Vietnam and The Tet Offensive: A Concise History

"David Zabecki has made a major contribution in editing this outstanding collection of sketches of chiefs of staffs—the individuals who do the work, but receive little of the credit.  This is a must read for all those interested in the processes of command." —Williamson Murray, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University, Author of The Past as Prologue:  The Importance of History in the Military Profession

David T. Zabecki Major General U.S. Army (Ret.) enlisted in the Army during 1966 and served in Vietnam as an infantry rifleman. After receiving his commission he went on to command at six different levels. He also served as an Operations Officer, an Intelligence Officer, and a Chief of Staff. In 2003 he was selected to be the Senior Security Adviser on the U.S. Coordinating and Monitoring Mission in Israel, charged with advancing the Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East. General Zabecki holds a PhD in Military Science from Britain's Royal Military College of Science. He is author of several books on military history, including the Naval Institute Press' Chief of Staff: The Principal Staff Officers behind History's Great Commanders.

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