Who are the very best historical figures (generals, nation leaders, statesmen, monarchs, philosophers, military theorists) to study from in terms of leadership, strategy, tactics (in modern conventional warfare, siege warfare, maneuver warfare, guerrilla warfare, sea, air, etc.), different types of philosophy, and great political skills for a statesman? How and or why, what were their significant achievements, personalities, downfalls, and triumphs??
(Figures who are either great in character or achievement, controversial, or even notorious/infamous)
Also, what are some great, noteworthy books to read and study in these topics, especially in military history and military leadership?
So far, I know of historical figures like Napoleon, George Catlett Marshall, Patton, Jomini, Sun Tzu, Von Clausewitz, Rommel, Yamamoto, Genghis Khan, Alexander The Great, B.H. Liddell Hart, Scipio, Hannibal, Caesar and a few others.. but who else is extremely notable and important to study for military leadership, strategy, theory, and politics??
The often-overlooked and possibly greatest American military leader in history - U.S. Grant. Read Ron Chernow's tremendous biography of Grant. It's a page turner. The US Civil War had more than its share of notable generals, for better (Lee, Jackson, Sherman, Forest, Stuart, Sheridan, Longstreet, etc.) or worse (McClellan, Hooker) or simply controversial (Custer, Beauregard).
You mentioned Patton & Marshall but how about other WW2 giants like MacArthur (William Manchester's "American Caesar" is a great source), Nimitz, Halsey, Eisenhower (both a military & political giant), Bradley, Stillwell, Clark, King, among others.
Matthew Ridgeway commanded the 101st Airborne Division ("Band of Brothers" fame) in WW2. He parachuted into battle no differently than his privates and corporals. He later took over from MacArthur in the Korean War and did a fine job. It was said that while MacArthur commanded from his hotel suite in Tokyo, Ridgeway commanded from a jeep just behind the front.
Right now I'm reading a biography of Curtis LeMay, the great bomber commander whose tactics of replacing high explosive bombing raids, which were so successful against the concrete & steel cities of Germany but not so much over the bamboo and wood cities of 1944-1945 Japan, with low-altitude (not popular with the bomber crews) incendiary (essentially gigantic napalm attacks) raids. The result was the burning to ash almost all Japanese cities, save for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which suffered different (but equally lethal) fates at the hands of LeMay's B-29s. The March 1945 raid on Tokyo resulted in at least 100,000 dead in a single night and the destruction of most of the capital.
One of the most under-rated generals whom almost pulled off a miracle was Creighton Abrams. He took over the Vietnam War from Westmoreland and very nearly turned into a victory (or at least tie, a la the Korean War), against all the odds. While President Nixon was demanding withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam (from 543,000 in 1969 to 23,000 by 1972), Abrams had to continue to carry on the war. He supervised the building up of the South Vietnamese military to take on the war from the Americans. US military advisers to the South Vietnam army were essentially commanders no less than British colonial officers were over their Indian troops generations earlier, making possible (along with fleets of B-52s and other US aircraft) the defeat of the communist Easter Offensive of 1972.
John "Black Jack" Pershing commanded a US Army in World War One which numbered roughly 2,000,000 troops by war's end, certainly among the greatest commands ever held by a single American commander.
Yamashita, the "Tiger of Malaya", commanded the great Japanese victory over the British culminating with the capitulation of Singapore in February 1942. His forces numbered half of his British opponents. Later, he carried out a vigorous defense on Luzon in 1944-1945, in a campaign of movement and tactical withdrawals which were almost unheard of by the Japanese army in WW2, only surrendering when the Emperor ordered him to do so in August 1945. His trial and execution by the Americans after the war remain controversial today. Some blame MacArthur for this, saying he was angry that Yamashita was never defeated on the field of battle.
Moshe Dayan commanded the Israeli military during its greatest victory, 1967's Six Day Way. The Israelis were dramatically outnumbered by the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, etc. They had fewer tanks and planes, too. They won overwhelmingly and stunningly.