Lucius D. Clay: An American Life

By Jean Edward Smith

45 ratings - 4.2* vote

Lucius D. Clay played a pivotal role in three epochal events of the 20th century: the rescue of America from the Depression, the mobilization of America for World War II and--his crowning achievement--the rehabilitation of West Germany. . . . Thoroughly researched . . . the book leaves you gasping in admiration.--Washington Post Book World.

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Book details

Paperback, 835 pages
1990 by First Glance Books
Original Title
Lucius D. Clay: An American Life
0805017879 (ISBN13: 9780805017878)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


I joke that this is a biography of St. Francis in a General's uniform. Born in the Reconstruction South, he is largely responsible for the reconstruction of Germany after Hitler. His organizational abilities combined with compassion and a clear vision of how to create a democracy from ashes has a lot to teach us today. Interesting reporting of the creation of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex and of the division of Europe after WWII. Human scale history.

David Shaffer

Finished Lucius A. Clay: An American Life by Jean Smith.

A full life biography. Some of us know his name, but I for one knew next to nothing about him.
It briefly covers his childhood and time at West Point. An engineer by training who spent much of the interwar years in his professional alin multiple sites with much of it on Washington DC. During the interwar years and during World War II he worked closely with Sam Rayburn, Harry Hopkins and Jimmy Byrnes.

He spent the bulk of World War II in a staff job being extremely involved in Lend Lease and Deputy Director of War Mobilization and worked on military procurement and at the end of the War he worked briefly under Eisenhower as his Deputy.

He transitioned and became the Military Governor of Germany and Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe. He wzs heavily involved in the de-Nazification program and attempt to fully reunify Germany and later to creation of the West German state. He was in charge during the Berlin Crisis and later returned to assist with the second Berlin Crisis under John Kennedy.

Again as someone who knew little about General Clay I heartily recommend this as a future read.

Jeni Enjaian

There are a few historians whose works I will pick up without knowing a single thing about the subject, David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Barbara Tuchman, and Jean Edward Smith. I picked up this book at a large book sale benefiting the local literacy association not recognizing the man on the cover, the subject of the biography but trusting Smith's historiographical prowess. Smith did not disappoint. For as much as I have read and studied World War II, I knew nothing about Lucius D. Clay or the occupation of Germany after the war. This book brought significant light to the matter. Smith also deftly wove the narrative through an extensive interview with Clay himself, although the date and circumstances of said interview(s) was never mentioned.

I highly recommend this book.

Maryellen Cyr

Comprehensive biography of a great American.

Lorena A. Boylan

ExcellentGood civil affairs reading material, better life management and skill sets. A distinguished officer, true to the Army his. Entire life.