Jean Edward Smith was a member of the faculty at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years, and at Marshall University for twelve. He has also been a visiting scholar at Columbia, Princeton, and Georgetown. In addition to Bush, he is the author of Eisenhower in War and Peace; FDR, winner of the 2008 Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians; Grant, a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist; John Marshall: Definer of a Nation; and Lucius D. Clay: An American Life.
If, as head of military procurement, Clay was in effect the nation's economic czar, his job as Military Governor of a devastated Germany was, as John J. McCloy has phrased it, "the nearest thing to a Roman proconsulship the modern world afforded." In 1945, Germany was in ruins, its political and legal structures a shambles, its leadership suspect. Clay had to deal with everything from de-Nazification to quarrelsome allies, from feeding a starving people to processing vast numbers of homeless and displaced. Above all, he had to convince a doubting American public and a hostile State Department that German recovery was essential to the stability of Europe. In doing so, he was to clash repeatedly with Marshall, Kennan, Bohlen, and Dulles not only on how to treat the Germans but also on how to deal with the Russians.
In 1949, Clay stepped down as Military Governor of Germany and Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe. He left behind a country well on the way to full recovery. And if Germany is today both a bulwark of stability and an economic and political success story, much of the credit is due to Clay and his driving vision.
Lucius Clay went on to play key roles in business and politics, advising and working with presidents of both parties and putting his enormous organizing skills and reputation to good use on behalf of his country, whether he was helping run Eisenhower's 1952 campaign, heading up the federal highway program, raising the ransom money for the Bay of Pigs prisoners, or boosting morale in Berlin in the face of the Wall. The Berliners in turn never forgot their debt to Clay. At the foot of his West Point grave, they placed a simple stone tablet: Wir Danken Dem Bewahrer Unserer Freiheit- We Thank the Defender of Our Freedom.
It was in tolling the death of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835 that the Liberty Bell cracked, never to ring again. An apt symbol of the man who shaped both court and country, whose life "reads like an early history of the United States," as the Wall Street Journal noted, adding: Jean Edward Smith "does an excellent job of recounting the details of Marshall's life without missing the dramatic sweep of the history it encompassed."