Books Monographs

The Soldier-Statesman in the Secret World: George C. Marshall and Intelligence in War and Peace

By David Robarge, CIA Historian (July 2023)


Marshall, the Army’s Chief of Staff during 1939-45 and Secretary of State and Defense during 1947-49 and 1950-51, respectively, is best known as the Allies’ “true organizer of victory” during World War II and steward of the economic recovery program named after him—the Marshall Plan—that helped stave off communist-incited instability in postwar Western Europe as it started to rebuild from wartime destruction.

Marshall’s illustrious reputation as one of America’s greatest 20th-century leaders rests almost entirely on his achievements in wartime and the immediate postwar cold peace. In contrast to that familiar heroic narrative, an examination of Marshall’s far less-well-known engagement with the world of intelligence during those years reveals a significantly more complicated picture. . . .

A thorough review of the resources at the George Marshall Research Library, official records, and a large body of primary and secondary sources reveals that between 1939 and 1951, Marshall was much more involved in intelligence affairs than has been indicated in the extensive literature about his role in World War II, his diplomatic mission to China, and his service as head of the State and Defense Departments. His sterling reputation as a “soldier-statesman” and “the military equivalent of a corporate manager” is well deserved, but his record as an “organizer of intelligence” during World War II is much more nuanced and has only been superficially examined up to now.



Chapter 1: Managing Wartime Military Intelligence

Chapter 2: Encouraging Inter-Service Intelligence Integration

Chapter 3: Mixed Relations With Donovan and COI/OSS

Chapter 4: Marshall and the “Special Sources”

Chapter 5: Postmortems on Intelligence Failure at Pearl Harbor

Chapter 6: Intelligence and Marshall’s Views on the

Atomic Bomb

Chapter 7: Bureaucratic Tangles, Liaison Tensions, and Collection

Problems in China

Chapter 8: At State: Protecting Departmental Equities, Dealing

With Covert Action

Chapter 9: At Defense: Establishing Rules of the Road

With CIA

Chapter 10: Handling the “Second Red Scare”

Conclusion: Marshall as an “Organizer of Intelligence”

Bibliography of Sources Cited or Consulted


This edition, published in July 2023, corrects minor editorial errors that appeared in the original version, which was published in February 2023.


All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or any other US government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views. This material has been reviewed by CIA solely for classification.

This publication may include copyrighted material. Such items should not be reproduced or disseminated without the express permission of the copyright holders.

ISBN: 978-1-929667-36-9

Download PDF of George C. Marshall—The Soldier Statesman in the Secret World (241 pages)

The Author

David Robarge is Chief Historian of the Central Intelligence Agency. He joined CIA in 1989 and worked as an analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence. After earning a Ph.D. in American History from Columbia, he moved to the History Staff in 1996 and was appointed chief historian in June 2005.

Along with his classified works, Dr. Robarge has written a declassified biography of Director of Central Intelligence John McCone and unclassified monographs on CIA’s A-12 reconnaissance aircraft and intelligence in the American Revolution. He has also written a biography of Chief Justice John Marshall.

His articles and book reviews on CIA leadership, analysis, counterintelligence, technical collection, and covert action have appeared in Studies in Intelligence, Intelligence and National Security, the Journal of Intelligence History, and the Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence.

Dr. Robarge has taught at George Mason University and currently teaches at Georgetown University.