Last May, as part of the Marshall Foundation’s COVID response, our popular Legacy Series events shifted from in-person lectures to prerecorded Zoom lectures. As we prepare to resume live presentations in Lexington, Virginia, we wanted to make these excellent virtual lectures available in one convenient place. We hope you will find a few presentations from the past year that pique your interest.
The Lost Soldier: Ordeal of a WWII G.I. from the Home Front to the Hürtgen Forest with Chris Hartley
Author Chris J. Hartley offers a perspective on World War II we don’t always get from histories and memoirs. Hartley will be speaking about his book of the same name, which is based on the letters home of Pete Lynn, the diary of his wife, Ruth, and meticulous research in primary and secondary sources. It recounts the war of a married couple who represent so many married couples, so many soldiers, in World War II, starting with their life in North Carolina and continuing as the war increasingly insinuated itself into the fabric of their lives, until Pete Lynn was drafted. He went on to fight in the terrible Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. It’s a story of soldier and wife, home front and army life, combat, love and loss.
Information Hunters: Librarians, Soldiers and Spies with Dr. Kathy Peiss
An unlikely band of information hunters—librarians, archivists, and scholars—came together during World War II, their war effort centered on collecting books and documents. They gathered enemy publications in the spy-ridden cities of Stockholm and Lisbon, searched for records in liberated Paris and the rubble of Berlin, seized Nazi works from bookstores and schools, and unearthed millions of books hidden in German caves and mine shafts. Improvising library techniques in wartime conditions, they contributed to Allied intelligence, safeguarded endangered collections, restituted looted books—and built up the international holdings of leading American libraries for the postwar period.
Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Joe McCarthy with Larry Tye
Joseph McCarthy was a tireless worker and a genuine war hero. His ambitions knew few limits. Neither did his socializing, his drinking, nor his gambling. When he finally made it to the Senate, he flailed around in search of an agenda and angered many with his sharp elbows and lack of integrity. Finally, after three years, he hit upon anti-communism. By recklessly charging treason against everyone from George Marshall to much of the State Department, he became the most influential and controversial man in America. His chaotic, meteoric rise is a gripping and terrifying object lesson for us all. Yet his equally sudden fall from fame offers reason for hope that, given the rope, most American demagogues eventually hang themselves.
Luck and Resilience in the Making of a General with Benjamin Runkle
It is easy to see the old images of Marshall standing next to Pershing or surrounded by future generals on his teaching staff at the Infantry School and, knowing what he achieved in building and leading the U.S. Army in WWII, perceive his rise as inevitable. But his eventual triumphs were anything but predetermined. Indeed, on many occasions Marshall benefited from chance (i.e. Pershing respecting Marshall’s brazen challenge at Gondrecourt in 1917). Yet a less resilient man than Marshall would not have been able to take advantage of these opportunities, a trait that was demonstrated many times. In the end, although Marshall was inarguably the indispensable man to the American war effort in WWII, he would not have been in position to alter the course of world history if not for fortunate twists of fate and his ability to overcome both personal tragedies and professional setbacks.
Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940-1941 with Paul Dickson
The story of America’s astounding industrial mobilization during World War II has been told. But what has never been chronicled before Paul Dickson’s The Rise of the G. I. Army, 1940-1941 is the extraordinary transformation of America’s military from a disparate collection of camps with dilapidated equipment into a well-trained and spirited army ten times its prior size in little more than eighteen months. From Franklin Roosevelt’s selection of George C. Marshall to be Army Chief of Staff to the remarkable peace-time draft of 1940 and the massive and unprecedented mock battles in Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Carolinas by which the skill and spirit of the Army were forged and out of which iconic leaders like Eisenhower, Bradley, and Clark emerged; Dickson narrates America’s urgent mobilization against a backdrop of political and cultural isolationist resistance and racial tension at home, and the increasingly perceived threat of attack from both Germany and Japan.
Daughters of Yalta: The Roosevelts, The Churchills, and the Harrimans with Catherine Grace Katz
Catherine Grace Katz uncovers the dramatic story of the three young women who were chosen by their fathers to travel with them to Yalta, each bound by fierce family loyalty, political savvy, and intertwined romances that powerfully colored these crucial days. Kathleen Harriman was a champion skier, war correspondent, and daughter of US ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman. Sarah Churchill, an actress-turned-RAF officer, was devoted to her brilliant father, who depended on her astute political mind. Roosevelt’s only daughter, Anna, chosen instead of her mother Eleanor to accompany the president to Yalta, arrived there as keeper of her father’s most damaging secrets.Situated in the political maelstrom that marked the transition to a post- war world, The Daughters of Yalta is a remarkable story of fathers and daughters whose relationships were tested and strengthened by the history they witnessed and the future they crafted together.
Blind Bombing: Microwave Radar and the Allied Victory in WWII with Norman Fine
Norman Fine shares a little-known story about a new invention made on the eve of WWII. Despite apathy and resistance from entrenched military establishments, the invention transformed radar as all the combatants knew it from a defensive tool into an offensive weapon of war. Only the Allies had it, and the enemy was mystified by their losses.
The Obligation the Serve: George Marshall and Universal Military Training with William Taylor
William A. Taylor explores Marshall’s pivotal, and ultimately unsuccessful, role in the campaign for universal military training (UMT) after World War II. Taylor uncovers the multifaceted ways in which U.S. leaders planned for national security during the early Cold War, including not only such military calculations as mobilization but such economic ones as costs and such political ones as priorities. The debates regarding UMT revealed tensions regarding how the United States prepared for conflict during times of peace and war. Questions such as who should serve and how proved essential. Ultimately, these debates represented far more than merely mobilization or even military service; they touched on broader questions about the correct size of the U.S. military, how much Americans were willing to pay in taxes to sustain their armed forces, and the delicate balance between national security and civil liberties in American democracy.
Wheels of Courage: How Paralyzed WWII Veterans Invented Wheelchair Sports with David Davis
Wheels of Courage reveals the inspiring story of the world’s first wheelchair athletes: U.S. soldiers, sailors, and Marines who were paralyzed on the battlefield during World War II. They organized the first-ever wheelchair basketball teams within V.A. hospitals after the war, which quickly spread across the nation and changed the perception and treatment of disabled people. This book follows the lives of three of these vets, describing their time in the military, their injuries, their recovery, and their role in creating wheelchair basketball. These men changed the narrative of disability, from one of pity to a new story of hope and endless potential.
An Evening with the Producers of “The Codebreaker”
Released in January 2021, “American Experience: The Codebreaker” introduced the remarkable career and accomplishments of groundbreaking female cryptanalyst, Elizebeth Smith Friedman, to living rooms across the United States to critical acclaim. Join GCMF Director of Library and Archives, Melissa Davis, for a roundtable discussion with the producers about Friedman’s surprising life and the role her papers (housed in the Marshall Foundation archive) played in the making of the film.
Women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion with Elizabeth Anne-Helm Frazier
Join Elizabeth Anne Helm-Frazier for a discussion of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only female African-American unit sent overseas in WWII. Given six months to sort and send two years’ worth of backlogged mail, the women of the 6888th had to identify the seven million military and serving civilians in the European theater and determine where they were now stationed–often from incorrectly addressed mail. Learn how their little-known but crucial service boosted morale and helped pave the way for victory in this presentation.
Women STEM Pioneers of WWII with Laurie Wallmark
Children’s author Laurie Wallmark tells the stories of three women and their groundbreaking contributions to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) during the Second World War. Viewers will learn how Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr developed a radio guidance system, separate the myths of Grace Hopper’s contribution to modern computing from the facts, and discover how cryptanalyst Elizebeth Friedman’s remarkable career was hidden for decades.