In This Review

Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith (American Warriors Series)
Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith (American Warriors Series)
By D.K.R. Crosswell
The University Press of Kentucky, 2010, 1088 pp

Walter Bedell Smith, known as "Beetle," first saw action in World War I, rose to become General Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff in World War II, and ended his career as the number two in the State Department during Eisenhower's presidency. Beetle is a major contribution to the history of World War II. Crosswell gets all the important things Smith did after the war out of the way in the opening chapters in order to concentrate on the Allied campaigns of 1944-45, the real meat of the book. From Smith's vantage point, one sees the defeat of Germany in a new light, with Crosswell constructing a masterly account of how the larger-than-life personalities of the key Allied commanders, including George Patton and Bernard Montgomery, struggled to develop a coherent strategy against a surprisingly resilient foe.