A Four-Day Work Week?
The charts had been set up five minutes before, the team bustling around Marshall’s desk no matter how hard he was working or whom he was seeing. “It just went off like a theatrical thing,” he said. “They became very expert at it, and it was really a thrilling presentation. You saw the whole war up to the last minute—done in such a way that it was easy, in a sense, to comprehend.”
When Marshall later went to a briefing at Eisenhower’s headquarters in London, he was appalled at the ham-handed way in which it was handled. He ordered General Walter Bedell Smith, who was in charge, back to Washington, “to see how it really should be done.”
This was a snapshot in time of the world situation. Action was taken and orders were issued based on what was learned in the briefing. The next day’s briefing would reflect what happened, and Marshall’s staff would proceed from there.
When my wife, Peggy, and I were standing on Omaha Beach, I looked out at the Channel and tried to imagine 11,000 aircraft and 7,000 ships landing 132,500 men—with another 23,400 landed by parachute and gliders—all within 20 hours. What blew my mind was the fact that, back in the Hotel Moderne in Caen, my Apple G4 laptop represented more computing power than all the Allied and Axis powers combined.
Marshall did not have rooms full of computers spitting out endless analyses and data, forcing everyone to rethink decisions constantly. World War II spanned two hemispheres and caused the deaths of 55 million people—including more than 20 million Russians. It was ultimately won with hand-cranked adding machines, finger-driven typewriters using carbon paper—the Thermofax copying machine had not been invented—mimeograph, Teletype, telephone and couriers.
Yet with this primitive information technology, it took just 11 months—from June 6, 1944, to May 7, 1945—for the Allied armies to completely overrun Eastern Europe, France and Germany and vanquish the mightiest, most dangerous foe in the history of the world. And just 13 months more to clean up the entire Pacific.