Smith, Jean Edward 1932-

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Smith, Jean Edward 1932-


Born October 13, 1932, in Washington, DC; son of Jean M. and Eddyth Smith; married Christine Zinsel, October 24, 1959; children: Sonja, Christopher. Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1954; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1964.


Office—Department of Political Science, Marshall University, One John Marshall Dr., Huntington, WV 25755-2014. Agent—Elizabeth Kaplan, 80 5th Ave., New York, NY, 10011.


Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, assistant professor of government, 1963-65; Center for International Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, research associate, 1967-68; University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, former professor of political economy; adjunct professor, Columbia University, 1998-99; Marshall University, Huntington, WV, currently John Marshall professor of political science. Visiting scholar, Princeton University, 1970-71. Military service: U.S. Army, 1954-61; became captain.


Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1971; Pulitzer Prize nomination, for Germany beyond the Wall; Pulitzer Prize finalist, for Grant.


The Defense of Berlin, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1963.

Der Weg ins Delimma, Ullstein (Berlin, Germany), 1965.

Germany beyond the Wall, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1969.

(Editor) The Papers of General Lucius D. Clay: Germany, 1945-1949, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1974.

(With Herbert M. Levine) Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Debated, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1988.

(With Sharryn Aiken and Katherine Koerner) The Constitution and American Foreign Policy, West Publishing Co. (St. Paul, MN), 1989.

(Editor, with Herbert M. Levine) The Conduct of American Foreign Policy Debated, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1990.

Lucius D. Clay: An American Life, Holt (New York, NY), 1990.

George Bush's War, Holt (New York, NY), 1992.

John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.

(With others) The Face of Justice: Portraits of John Marshall, Huntington Museum of Art (Huntington, WV), 2001.

Grant (biography), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

FDR (biography), Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to literature and political science journals.


Jean Edward Smith is the author of a number of biographies, including Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. Clay (1898-1978) was head of military procurement during World War II and served as U.S. military governor in occupied Germany until his retirement from the army in 1949. He entered into careers in banking and business and was an active participant in President Eisenhower's 1952 presidential campaign. Smith interviewed Clay over a period of six years in preparing the volume. Publishers Weekly reviewer Genevieve Stuttaford said that Clay's "mighty deeds are well chronicled in this meticulously researched biography." In addition to his biography of Clay, Smith also published The Papers of General Lucius D. Clay: Germany, 1945-1949 in 1974.

Smith's examination of the Gulf War of the early 1990s, George Bush's War was called "a solid work" by Herbert Mitgang in the New York Times Book Review, and "the most intelligent history to appear thus far about the ability of a President to promote a splendid little war. Professor Smith writes clearly and documents his opinions with evidence. His book is convincing because his eye never wavers from an essential nonmilitary target: the war-making power in the Constitution and its unwritten corollary, the chance to avoid a hasty war by waiting for a declaration by Congress." Mitgang wrote that the book "is not a polemic; the author allows the evidence to speak for itself. Yet the conclusion he draws is devastating: the Persian Gulf War was President Bush's very own war."

Rae Corelli wrote in Maclean's that "Smith credits Bush with ‘masterly’ Gulf War diplomacy…. But in the end, Smith wrote, the President restored autocratic Kuwaiti rulers who appear to have learned nothing, caused ‘enormous human suffering’ and debased Congress by usurping its exclusive constitutional authority to take the nation to war." A Publishers Weekly reviewer said that Smith considers the U.S. military the one participant in the Gulf War that performed well, "with its realistic doubts about the adventure and its brilliant strategic performance." George Bush's War "should become a standard for future historians," the reviewer concluded.

John Marshall: Definer of a Nation is Smith's biography of the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who served the country for thirty-five years. Marshall (1755-1835) was also a farmer, lawyer, soldier, diplomat, and politician. Booklist reviewer Margaret Flanagan said that Smith shows Marshall to have been "a genuinely warm and humorous intellectual giant, a gifted leader with an infectious personality and the common touch." "To be sure," noted Hebert Sloan in Political Science Quarterly, "Smith is willing to admit that Marshall may have slipped once or twice…. But in this version Marshall never falters when it comes to the things that matter … and he leaves his country better than he found it."

Marshall was largely responsible for establishing and defining the powers of both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution. Harold M. Hyman wrote in America that "this volume imposes no burden on its readers. Smith, to his credit, has mastered the intricacies of the legal, constitutional, social and political his- tory he covers. His Marshall is a consistently jargon-free, wonderfully old-fashioned and fully fleshed life-and-times book, a form that, happily, is not yet obsolete. In addition, Smith makes sense for lay readers of the numerous complex Supreme Court decisions that Marshall either wrote himself or greatly influenced." A Publishers Weekly contributor called John Marshall "essentially a chronological account of a life lived fully."

Grant is Smith's biography of Ulysses S. Grant, a two-term president who took office in 1868 and was the first four-star general in the history of the United States. Grant attended West Point and served with distinction in the Mexican War. Following the war, he began drinking heavily because, according to Smith, his assignments to several different posts kept him separated from his wife and children, to whom he was devoted. Grant resigned from the military in 1854 and returned to civilian life, where he was unsuccessful at various business ventures. He was a clerk when the Civil War began but rose to the rank of brigadier general, largely through the influence of Congressman Elihu Washburne of Illinois. "Smith convincingly portrays a superb tactician as well as a fine strategist—better than Lee, perhaps, who only commanded the Army of Northern Virginia while Grant eventually became the general in chief of all the Union forces," wrote William L. O'Neill in the New Leader. Popular opinion has been that Grant sacrificed his men, but Smith points out that his casualty rate was actually lower than Lee's. The Union employed two million men to the Confederacy's 750,000. "Grant did not lack compassion," said O'Neill, "he simply knew the War could never be won by timely retreats and successful defenses. He would win it by relentless attack, maneuvering when he could, but always taking the battle to his enemy, whatever that required." O'Neill concluded by saying that "Smith tells the whole story admirably. He … is a fine writer and his narrative drive never falters."

After the war, Smith writes, Grant took up Lincoln's stance of going forward "with malice toward none," but was alone in resisting the cry for revenge by radicals in Congress and by Andrew Johnson, who had no love for the southern planter class. When a Norfolk jury indicted Lee for treason, Grant threatened Johnson with his resignation unless the ruling was overturned, and Johnson complied. He cracked down on the emerging Ku Klux Klan, allowing the South to have a fair election. "As Smith shows, however, this did not mean that Grant favored a namby-pamby or standardless Reconstruction," explained a Washington Post Book World contributor. "He pushed for the ratification of the Fifteenth (voting rights) Amendment and tried to enforce black suffrage, even as growing national weariness with the ‘turbulence’ down South undercut national resolve to make good on the war's paper promises. Had Grant's policies been followed, the first Reconstruction might have worked and the second one of our day might have been unnecessary."

A Publishers Weekly contributor called Grant "by far the best comprehensive biography to date of a man who remains an enigma." Smith attributes the reputation of Grant's presidential administration as scandal-ridden to the president's weakness in trusting political advisors who profited from his friendship. Glenn Speer wrote in Book that, while scholars who adhere to previous interpretations of Grant's life and performance may find Smith's biography upsetting, "it will undoubtedly enthrall its readers." Library Journal reviewer William D. Pederson called the book "provocative" and "the best one-volume biography of Grant to date."

Smith next tackled the biography of another prominent and well-respected American leader with FDR. This account of the life of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt traces both his political career and personal life in a single, 880-page volume. Smith particularly focuses on Roosevelt's formative experiences, such as his close relationship with his mother, his post-secondary education at the Groton School and Harvard University, and his brush with polio that left him permanently paralyzed. In an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Carl Leubsdorf remarked: "Smith, taking full advantage of the many FDR sources, from earlier biographies to the papers of the era's principals, has written a marvelous book." Leubsdorf, among other critics, pointed out that Smith avoids hagiography with the text: "Despite his generally positive tone, Smith does not overlook the president's shortcomings." Pederson made a similar comment in a review for Library Journal, noting that Smith "excels at placing his narrative in a balanced context." Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor wrote: "Smith's portrait will ground readers in FDR's controversies and historical stature."



America, May 31, 1997, Harold M. Hyman, review of John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, p. 26.

American Historical Review, April, 1998, Maeva Marcus, review of John Marshall, p. 583.

Army, July, 2001, Michael D. Hull, review of Grant, p. 58.

Book, May, 2001, Glenn Speer, review of Grant, p. 74.

Booklist, September 1, 1990, review of Lucius D. Clay: An American Life, p. 11; January 15, 1992, review of George Bush's War, p. 882; November 15, 1996, Margaret Flanagan, review of John Marshall, p. 555; April 1, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of Grant, p. 1446; March 15, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of FDR, p. 22.

Books in Canada, May, 1992, review of George Bush's War, p. 45; November, 1997, review of John Marshall, p. 34.

Campaigns and Elections, June, 2001, review of Grant, p. 18.

Civil War Times, June, 2001, Joan Waugh, "Grant Reappraised," p. 10.

Foreign Affairs, winter, 1990, Gaddis Smith, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 193; spring, 1992, Gaddis Smith, review of George Bush's War, p. 198.

Independent Review, winter, 1998, review of John Marshall, p. 450.

Journal of American History, September, 1997, Scott D. Gerber, review of John Marshall, p. 658.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1990, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 924; February 1, 1992, review of George Bush's War, p. 172; September 1, 1996, review of John Marshall, p. 1309.

Library Journal, August, 1990, Dennis E. Showalter, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 118; March 1, 1992, Frank Kessler, review of George Bush's War, p. 107; November 1, 1996, Jerry E. Stephens, review of John Marshall, p. 92; February 15, 2001, William D. Pederson, review of Grant, p. 178; March 15, 2007, William D. Pederson, review of FDR, 79.

Maclean's, January 27, 1992, Rae Corelli, review of George Bush's War, p. 24.

Middle East Policy, summer, 1992, Michael Rubner, review of George Bush's War, p. 174.

New Leader, May, 2001, William L. O'Neill, review of Grant, p. 29.

New Republic, February 17, 1997, review of John Marshall, p. 38.

New Yorker, March 10, 1997, review of John Marshall, p. 93.

New York Review of Books, January 30, 1992, Theodore Draper, review of George Bush's War, p. 38.

New York Times, March 18, 1992, Herbert Mitgang, review of George Bush's War, p. B2.

New York Times Book Review, July 29, 1990, Stephen E. Ambrose, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 13; February 23, 1992, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 32; March 18, 1992, Herbert Mitgang, "For President Bush, a War of One's Own"; December 1, 1996, Joseph J. Ellis, review of John Marshall, p. 14; April 22, 2001, Richard Brookhiser, "Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? A Solid, Above-Average, Historically Mistreated President, That's Who," p. 11.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 3, 2007, Carl Leubsdorf, review of FDR.

Political Science Quarterly, spring, 1991, John Gimbel, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 149; fall, 1997, Hebert Sloan, review of John Marshall, p. 526.

Publishers Weekly, June 29, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 93; February 24, 1992, review of George Bush's War, p. 41; September 30, 1996, review of John Marshall, p. 67; February 12, 2001, review of Grant, p. 190.

Technology and Culture, January, 1992, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 175.

Times Literary Supplement, June 6, 1997, review of John Marshall, p. 7.

Wall Street Journal, March 19, 1992, David Brock, review of George Bush's War, p. A12; December 10, 1996, Mark Miller, review of John Marshall, p. A20.

Washington Post Book World, August 19, 1990, review of Lucius D. Clay, p. 5; March 15, 1992, review of George Bush's War, p. 6; May 6, 2001, "The Stuff of Greatness," review of Grant, p. 5.

William & Mary Quarterly, October, 1998, review of John Marshall, p. 663.

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Smith, Jean Edward 1932-

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