Marshall, one of the few men in American history who can truly be described as a soldier-statesman, has not lacked for attention, scholarly and otherwise, since his death at nearly 80 in 1959. Undaunted, journalist Cray (Chrome Colossus, Levi's, etc.) has produced a concise but comprehensive biography that does evenhanded justice to a great man and his achievements; it's a first-rate alternative to the standard (and official) reference, Forrest C. Pogue's four-volume life (1963-1987). Embarking on a military career against the wishes of his parents, Marshall, commissioned in 1902, served in the Philippines, Oklahoma Territory, and other posts. The Great War sent him to France, where he helped train troops and plan operations for the 1st Division. Rising steadily through the ranks, he became the US Army's Chief of Staff in September of 1939. An early advocate of preparedness, Marshall helped FDR mobilize the human and material resources needed to defeat the Axis powers; a grateful Winston Churchill called him ""the organizer of [WW II's] victory."" A thoughtful and effective geopolitical strategist, Marshall became Secretary of State in Truman's cabinet at the start of 1947. During his tenure, Congress passed the European Recovery Act (a.k.a. the Marshall Plan). Stepping down in 1949, the old soldier returned to government as Secretary of Defense shortly after the outbreak of war in Korea. Having supported the President's decision to recall General Douglas MacArthur, he again departed, this time for good. In retirement, Marshall (who left no memoir of his own) took a beating at the hands of right-wing Republicans--notably Senator Joseph McCarthy. He endured with dignity, however, gaining international recognition (including the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize) for his contributions to the cause of world accord. Cray does a fine job of evoking Marshall's steely integrity and his disciplined ability to deal with professional disappointment. He also provides affecting glimpses of a stern commander's surprisingly warm personal life. In all, then, an accessible and admiring, albeit balanced, portrait.