Unsung U.S. General Gets His Day
Alumnus “to be applauded for shining a light on” Gen. Albert Wedemeyer in new biography, says Wall Street Journal.
If someone asked you to name a famous American World War II general, you might think of Eisenhower, Patton or Bradley. Yet the most brilliant military mind of the era may have belonged to Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, the strategist who drafted the “Victory Plan” to defeat Germany, according to John J. McLaughlin, author of a new biography of Wedemeyer and a graduate of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.
“He was overshadowed by the line officers, which is not unusual in the military, and well-known historians have not given him the kind of recognition he deserves,” McLaughlin, who earned his D. Litt in 2008, said in an interview. “He was a man who deserved to be in the same pantheon of heroes.”
Wedemeyer, who died in 1989, was a Nebraskan who graduated from West Point. In 1936 the Army sent him to Germany’s Kriegsakadamie, or war college, in Berlin to study war theory and tactics. Later, drawing upon that experience, he proposed a massive build-up of the American military and an invasion of France.
In his book, General Albert C. Wedemeyer: American’s Unsung Strategist in World War II, favorably reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, McLaughlin treats Wedemeyer as a prophetic voice that was not always heeded. Although Wedemeyer urged a cross-channel invasion in 1943, British leader Winston Churchill opposed the idea, and D-Day did not take place until 1944. Wedemeyer, meanwhile, was transferred to China, a move McLaughlin believes Churchill helped engineer.
“We all know from history and politics that when underlings oppose the upper tier, sometimes there are consequences,” he says. While in China Wedemeyer urged greater U.S. support of nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. But “the establishment didn’t listen,” McLaughin says, and communists eventually took over the country.
McLaughlin’s book was expanded from the doctoral dissertation he wrote while at Drew. A retired attorney who previously earned master degrees from Drew in literature and theology, he is also the founder of the New Jersey World War II Book Club.—Mary Jo Patterson