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Jacob L. Devers: A General's Life

by James Scott Wheeler foreword by Rick Atkinson

Availablepaperback$29.95 978-0-8131-7598-0
Availablecloth$80.00x 978-0-8131-6602-5
American Warriors Series
616 pages  Pubdate: 08/03/2018  6.125 x 9.25  28 b&w photos, 26 maps

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General Jacob L. “Jake” Devers (1897–1979) was one of only two officers—the other was Omar C. Bradley—to command an army group during the decisive campaigns of 1944–1945 that liberated Europe and ended the war with Nazi Germany. After the war, Devers led the Army Ground Forces in the United States and eventually retired in 1949 after forty years of service. Despite incredible successes on the battlefield, General George C. Marshall’s “dependable man” remains one of the most underrated and overlooked figures of his generation.

In this definitive biography, James Scott Wheeler delivers a groundbreaking reassessment of the American commander whose contributions to victory in Europe are topped only by General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s. Wheeler’s exhaustively researched chronicle of Devers’s life and career reveals a leader who demonstrated an extraordinary ability to cut through red tape and solve complex problems. Nevertheless, Eisenhower disliked Devers—a fact laid bare when he ordered Devers’s Sixth Army Group to halt at the Rhine. After the war, Eisenhower’s and Bradley’s accounts of the generals’ disagreements over strategy and tactics became received wisdom, to the detriment of Devers’s reputation.

An essential contribution to twentieth-century history, Jacob L. Devers provides a fresh and nuanced interpretation of the senior command during World War II and offers a new perspective on a highly accomplished soldier.

Col. James Scott Wheeler, USA (Ret.), is a retired professor of history at the United States Military Academy. He is the author of several books, including The Big Red One: America’s Legendary 1st Infantry Division from World War I to Desert Storm and The Irish and British War, 1637–1654: Triumph, Tragedy, and Failure.

Jacob L. Devers: A General's Life successfully combines the story of Devers’s private life with that of his military life and career to provide a first-rate profile of both the man and the general. The scholarship is impeccable. Wheeler’s discussion of the Devers-Eisenhower controversy is the best and most thorough account I have read. -- Carlo D’Este, author of Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life

This book will become the standard work on Devers. Although offering a sympathetic portrayal of Devers, Wheeler does not sacrifice his basic objectivity. There is also a spark of controversy because the book calls into question the traditional view of Eisenhower’s management of his American subordinates. -- Stephen R. Taaffe, author of Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II

Jacob L. Devers: A General's Life is a major contribution to revising the traditional account of World War II in Europe. Wheeler gives us a very different view of Eisenhower in particular and the senior command relationships in general during 1944–1945. -- Jonathan M. House, author of A Military History of the Cold War, 1944–1962

James Scott Wheeler has given us something more than a simple comprehensive account of one general’s life. By resurrecting a notably underappreciated World War II four-star, he provides readers with an insightful appraisal of American military leadership in wartime. . . . In this engaging biography, [Devers] receives the recognition that has long been his due. -- American Conservative

Retired Col. James Scott Wheeler has closed a serious gap in the historiography of the U.S. Army during World War II [. . .] and has redressed an imbalance in historical assessment of Devers’ career and leadership in combat.
It is decidedly a work of professional scholarship weaving the Army story throughout. -- AUSA

James Scott Wheeler has crafted a biography which exposes the career of Jacob Devers to an audience largely unaware of the incredible service he provided to his country. This [is an] extremely valuable contribution and an important asset in our understanding of World War II. -- On Point

Wheeler has crafted an excellent biography of a general whose accomplishments were pivotal in defeating the Wehrmacht. After years of relative obscurity in the historiography of World War II, Devers’s time has arrived. -- H-Net Reviews

Wheeler’s book is highly recommended for all history audiences – an extraordinary story about an extraordinary man who simply did not see himself that way. -- Military Review

A thorough, readable, solid analysis that does credit to its subject. -- Journal of Military History

Wheeler has produced an excellent biography of a significant senior leader, but also a group biography of American high command in World War II. -- US Military History Review

Wheeler has done an admirable job with (presenting) a rich account worthy of being read by anyone interested in World War II. Devers might not have gotten much attention in his day, but he deserves it now. -- Parameters

In this definitive biography, Wheeler delivers a groundbreaking reassessment of the American commander whose contributions to victory in Europe are topped only by General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s. An essential contribution to twentieth-century history, Jacob L. Devers provides a fresh and nuanced interpretation of the senior command during World War II and offers a new perspective on a highly accomplished solider. -- McCormick (SC) Messenger

Winner, Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Book Award for Biography