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Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure by…

Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure (1936)

by J. F. C. Fuller

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Most important point is that the leader must lead in person and that the personal factor in battle in critical. This sentiment comes from the author's experiences in WWI where he saw the brutal and mechanical killing machine that was trench warfare. In Fuller's opinion, this horrible state of affairs was created and allowed to be sustained for years mostly due to the failure of generals on either side to leave their safe headquarters far in the rear and lead the battle. One of Patton's favorite books. This copy from the US Army Library. ( )
  SPQR2755 | Oct 13, 2013 |
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‘For what art can surpass that of the general? – an art which deals not with dead matter but with living beings, who are subject to every impression of the moment, such as fear, precipitation, exhaustion – in short, to every human passion and excitement. The general has not only to reckon with unknown quantities, such as time, weather, accidents of all kinds, but he has before him one who seeks to disturb and frustrate his plans and labours in every way; and at the same time this man, upon whom all eyes are directed, feels upon his mind the weight of responsibility not only for the lives and honour of hundreds of thousands, but even for the welfare and existence of his country.’

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War with impersonal leadership is a brutal soul-destroying business, provocative only of class animosity and bad workmanship.
“You officers amuse yourselves with God knows what buffooneries and never dream in the least of serious service. This is a source of stupidity which would become most dangerous in case of a serious conflict.”
-- Frederick the Great
The more mechanical become the weapons with which we fight, the less mechanical must be the spirit which controls them.
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Major-General J.F.C. Fuller has been called “the most brilliant, most stimulating, and most arrogant and aggravating military writer of the twentieth century.” This book helped end his military career, for in it he presents a devastating critique of the decline of Western military thought, and in particular of the collapse of active leadership. He dates this to the end of the American Civil War, after which Western generals became increasingly removed from the battlefield. Fuller argues that the three pillars of generalship are moral courage, creative intelligence, and physical fitness – a requirement for surviving near the front lines. His thesis that most of the great generals of history were young men who personally led and inspired their armies from the front, rather than anonymously pushing them forwards from the rear, did little to endear him to the aging and reactionary military establishment of the day. The evidence, however, remains on Fuller's side.
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The seminal treatise on Generalship, by Major-General Fuller, reputed to have been the most formative book in General Patton's military training which he kept with him at all times.

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