GEORGE C. MARSHALL THE . LAST GREAT Ame rican? BY LANCE MORROW NO SOLDIER SINCE WASHINGTON HAS HAD HIS ROMAN VIRTUES, AND SO SIGNIFICANTLY SHAPED A PEACE IN MY MINH, A DIAGRAM OF AMERICAN military history might begin with a parallelogram of Georges—George Washington and George Marshall; George Armstrong Custer and George Patton. A geometry of paired oppo¬ sites. In some ways, George Marshall is the best of them all. Custer and Patton are the Hotspur sides—martial peacocks, brave, vain¬ glorious and, in Custer's case, fatally heedless. The cavalier Georges favored flamboyant touches: Custer with his personal Hag and a regimental band, mounted on white horses, playing "Garryowen" across the Montana plains; Patton with ivory-handled pis¬ tols and his warrior-mystic's deja vu— he thought that he had fought with Alexander the Great in another life. Well, as George Marshall said, rue¬ fully, a democracy's leader, even in war, must keep the people entertained. Followed by his dog, Fleet, the Army Chief of Staff briefly escapes his military cares by riding at Fort Myer in 1941. Custer and Patton were performance artists who filled the stage with strut and plumage and flame. They con¬ ceived that the battle was essentially a dramatically amplified projection of themselves. Pairing Patton with Custer is unfair, perhaps. Custer's curtain call was an act ol sell-immolating folly; Pat¬ ton, by contrast, was a brilliant tacti¬ cian and a superb combat leader who redeemed his excesses when he brought the Third Army slashing across Furope toward Hitler's throat. The other two sides of the parallelo¬ gram, the Stoic Georges, shaped larger American business. Washington and Marshall were soldiers of maturity and gravitas: father figures, not sons. In both generals duty evolved beyond ego and broke through to a sort of higher self-effacement, an identification by which they merged themselves with their country's purposes. The Greeks might have thought Patton and Custer embodied hubris; they would have assigned Washington and Marshall to the realm of arete, or virtue—the self fulfilled in noble accomplishment for the state. Washington and Marshall were not only warriors but, after their wars, something more constructive than that. As Emerson said, "Every hero be¬ comes a bore at last." Washington and Marshall both may seem too good to be true. But when I put Washington and Marshall side by side, and look at them against the background of the national leadership now in office, it is easy to think that I am looking at the first American grown-up—and the last. As much as any man, Marshall saved world democracy at the moment ol its greatest danger. He took up his duties as U.S. Army Chief of Staff on Sep¬ tember 1, 193,9, the day that Hitler marched into Poland. He began with an absurdly ill-equipped army of 174,000 men, ranking 17th in the world behind such nations as Bulgaria and Portugal, and turned it into a global fighting force of more than eight mil¬ lion, an army without which the Allies could not have defeated Nazi Germany and Japan. Ulysses Grant was the lirst master of industrial warfare. Marshall was the first genius of bureaucratic warfare, a Napoleon riding a desk. Not martial flamboyance but logistics saved the world in 19^9-4-^, although the world still may not be mature enough to understand that. April 1945: triumphant Red Army soldiers wave a flag over the ruins of Berlin; in a 1947 cartoon (right), Europe hauls itself up from a "rubble heap" with help from the Marshall Plan. West Berlin was rebuilt, but the U.S.S.R. and its satellites refused Western aid. Could anyone else have done the job as well as Marshall? No. Was Marshall indispensable? The question has no answer, except perhaps a quotation from the Tao Te Ching: "The Master doesn'l talk, he acts, when his work is done, the people say, 'Amazing: Wc did it all by ourselves!'" The recent anniversary of the Mar¬ shall Plan notwithstanding, as a soldier George Marshall is half-forgotten now, or four-fifths forgotten, as he knew he would be. That was part of his virtue. There was a moment around Thanks¬ giving of 194^ that might have changed everything and propelled Marshall into higher historical orbit. Franklin Roo¬ sevelt needed to settle upon the gener¬ al who would lead the Allied invasion of France and the reconquest of Eu¬ rope. Everyone assumed that Army Chief of Staff George Marshall would get the job he had magnificently earned. On his way to meetings in Cairo and Tehran, Roosevelt discussed the question with Dwight Eisenhower, then the commander of Allied forces in North Africa and the Mediterranean. As they flew ewer Tunisia, the Presi¬ dent thought out loud: "Ike, you and I know who was Chief of Staff during the last years of the Civil War but practically no one else knows, although the names of the field generals—Grant, of course, and Lee and Jackson, Sher¬ man, Sheridan and the others—every schoolboy knows them. I hate to think that fifty years Irom now practically nobody will know who George Mar¬ shall was. That is one ol the reasons why I want George to have the big command. He is entitled to establish his place in history as a great general." Eisenhower listened in silence. He, of course, wanted to command the invasion but, like everyone else, as¬ sumed the job would go to Marshall. In Cairo in early December, FDR tried to get Marshall to state a preference. Marshall said only that he would do what the President wanted him to do. Days later, FDR made his decision. He reasoned that no one else could deal with Congress as effectively as Marshall did—no other soldier would have Marshall's immense moral author¬ ity and credibility. No one else knew the world military situation so well. As the Cairo Conference ended, Roosevelt told Marshall: "I feel I could not sleep at night with you out of the country." It was done. Marshall accepted the decision without question or comment. Both Roosevelt and Marshall were cor¬ rect in predicting that being kept at his desk in the War Department would deprive Marshall of the honor in his tory that he deserved. History is not lair. Marshall was a greater man than Dwight Eisenhower, yet it was Ike who went to the White House for eight years. Marshall was a greater general, and a better man. than theatrical and self-promoting Douglas MacArthur. Yet MacArthur lives on more vividly in whatever remains of American historical memory. Despite the offer of seven-figure publishers' advances, Marshall refused to write his memoirs after the war; to do so, he suggested, would require him to tell the full story, and such truth-telling would sometimes wound old colleagues. His concern for others was usually concealed behind an on-duty, crisply serious command manner that rarely permitted warmth or familiarity to show. The jovial Franklin Roosevelt on several occasions called him "George," but Marshall rejected it as not suitable from his Commander in Chief. He had a sense of humor, but one so rarely indulged, and so sly and dry that oth¬ ers could miss the point. At a World War 1 armistice celebration, a French attache and a British observer debated the postwar distribution oi Germany's colonics. When the Frenchman gener¬ ously proposed giving Syria to the United States, Marshall declined: "America is opposed to any colony that has a wet or a dry season, and an abnormal number of insects." He allowed, however, that Bermuda would be acceptable. The Englishman was not amused. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarz¬ kopf, heroes of a 42-day video war, made millions for their memoirs. Mar¬ shall belonged to a pretelevision, almost Plutarchian. order. In some ways the burden that he bore was "reater than that of Churchill or Roo- scvclt, because Marshall was the man who turned policy, mere ideas, into men and steel, into facts. He was held more mercilessly than the others to the standard of reality. After World War II, Churchill, who had worked closely with Marshall and often quarreled with him over Allied strategy, said ol the Chief of Staff, "Succeeding generations must not be allowed to forget his achievements and his example." Franklin Roosevelt's Presidential career fell into two acts—the Great Depression and World War II. Mar¬ shall played his two acts in the oppo¬ site order, from war to peace—first as the organizer of global battle, then as a preeminent statesman of lhe postwar period. During the lq^os, when Amer¬ ica was basically isolationist and large¬ ly pacifist, Marshall, along with some others, had the historical imagination to anticipate war on a scale that would In 1884, kid brother George already looked serious. Looking more serious still in 1900, he was a leading cadet at VMI. "It was about lime jor somebody else to swim for the family" have seemed to most Americans an apocalyptic fantasy. It took great dar¬ ing and steadiness to prepare for such an apocalypse. Again, after the war, he led America out of isolation with the Marshall Plan. Marshall's two great acts intersected one day in 1947, fifty years ago this June. Harvard University president James B. Conant presented to George Catlett Marshall a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa. The honor, Conant told the audience ol 8,000 in Harvard Yard, went to "an American to whom Freedom owes an enduring debt of gratitude, a soldier and states¬ man whose ability and character brook only one comparison in the history of this nation." Conant understood the symmetry: the comparison was of course to George Washington. By June 1947, the relief attending vic¬ tory two years earlier had been lost in new anxieties. Churchill, deposed as prime minister and leading the loyal opposition, rumbled: "What is Europe now? It is a rubble heap, a charnel house, a breeding ground of pestilence and hate." The wartime alliance with the Soviet Union had all but disinte¬ grated; the threat of Communist regimes in Europe and the Mediter¬ ranean was real. And now, in 1947, Marshall had a new assignment, Secre¬ tary ol State. Marshall mistrusted elo¬ quence; he said that he was bad with words, and in any case thought an ofli- cer should express himself through his deeds. Looking out at Harvard Yard, he adjusted his reading glasses, and began: "I need not tell you that the world situation is very serious . . ." With that, Marshall set forth the out¬ line of the European Recovery Pro¬ gram or, as everyone soon began call¬ ing it, the Marshall Plan. As the Cold War began, he set in motion the pro¬ gram that would save Western Europe from economic and political chaos, and from the totalitarianism that was over¬ taking mainland China and the Eastern Bloc countries. With Marshall pushing it in Congress and elsewhere, the plan was finally adopted despite notable opposition. "I worked on that," he later said, "as il 1 was running for the Sen¬ ate or the Presidency." He not only testified before Congress, he traveled the country patiently explaining. It was no giveaway pro¬ gram, he told businessmen; countries that wanted financial support had to come up with feasible plans for eco¬ nomic recovery. The aid had a fixed time limit and a fixed cost ceiling; it would be administered by an American businessman, not a bureaucrat, and there was plenty of accountability. Without a thriving Europe, who would we buy from and sell to? Without par¬ liamentary democracy on the Continent, what chance was there for continued peace? Twice in 50 years, he reminded isolationists, America had gone to war to keep Europe free of "single-power domination," clear prool of how much Europe mattered to America. Beyond that, in a vision of a future we understand better now than we did then, he noted that modern communi¬ cations, vastly expanded during World War II, had made the difference between rich and poor nations more glaringly visible than in the past, a recipe for future trouble unless some¬ thing could be done about the dispari¬ ty. In the four years between 1948 and 1952 the Marshall Plan channeled some Si} billion in reconstruction aid and technical assistance to 16 European countries. For that Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize in 193^. A SMALL-TOWN BOY AS SOLDI HR AND STATESMAN, MARSHALL served eight Presidents in a 50-year career. He was born on the last day of 1880, only 15 years after the Civil War, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in a pri¬ marily agricultural nation ol ^8 states. His career—young lieutenant in the Philippines at the turn of the century, General Pershing's chief of staff in World War I, organizer of victory in World War II, Secretary of State as the Cold War hardened—personified the American transformation from small¬ town insularity to global preeminence. The arc of his life was also the nation's trajectory. He molded his life and work to his duty and nation—and those four things became indistin¬ guishable. Marshall's Pennsylvania origins had the savor of a manageable, self-suffi¬ cient and essentially innocent universe, congenial to boyhood, a sort of pow¬ erful Emersonian center fiom which Tom Sawyer might have gone forth into the greater world. The self-confi¬ dence instilled by such a childhood was one of those crucial (but usually obscure) sources of national energy as the United States moved out into the world for the American Century. It was the sort of boyhood that a repre¬ sentative American like Charles A. Lindbergh enjoyed and that Henry R. Luce, a missionary's son in China, dreamed of from afar, and forever missed. The soil of such childhoods nourished the myth of American boun¬ ty, generosity, blamelessness anel im¬ munity from evil in the world. Theo¬ dore Roosevelt fired these assumptions at the world as if they were cannon- balls; Woodrow Wilson would turn them into a sort of missionary theology. George Marshall was descended from John Marshall, the third Chief Justice, and from some of the oldest blood-proud families of Virginia— Catletts, Picketts, Taliaferros. His father, a prosperous Uniontown busi¬ nessman, used to brag about the gene¬ alogy. The son reacted with embar¬ rassment and irritation. "I thought that the continued harping on the name of John Marshall was kind of a poor busi¬ ness," he commented later. "It was about time for somebody else to swim for the family." In a speech he gave years later in Uniontown, just before World War II, Marshall explained that he decided on a military career only after 1899, when, at 18, he watched the triumphant return from the Philippines of Compa¬ ny C of the Tenth Pennsylvania A heart-shaped, floral float conveyed Dutch gratitude to Marshall in 1948. Infantry Regiment: "No man of Com¬ pany C could make a purchase in this community. The town was his. ... It was a grand American small town demonstration of pride [that] reflected the introduction of America into the affairs of the world beyond the seas." That bright moment—America's for¬ eign adventure celebrated to the sound ofjohn Philip Sousa—would arrive, several generations later, at the darker end of the trajectory when the soldiers arriving back, singly, from Vietnam received no welcome home except a glare, a complicated silence, or the taunt: "Baby killer!" (I have sometimes wondered what George Marshall would have done if, born ^o years later, his Commander in Chief had asked him to be the Westmoreland or the MacNamara of the American war in Vietnam. Marshall was, after all, a soldier impeccable in his loyalty and punctilious about obeying orders.) Young Marshall wanted to go to West Point, but both Pennsylvania senators were Republicans and Mar¬ shall's father was a Democrat who sup¬ ported William Jennings Bryan. Mar¬ shall decided upon the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia, which generations of Mar¬ shalls had attended. His older brother, Stuart, VMI class oi '94, was against the choice. The brothers did not gel along. Marshall recalled: "I overheard Stuart talking to my mother; he was trying to persuade her nol to let me go, because he thought I would disgrace the family name. Well, that made more impres¬ sion on mc than all instructors, parental pressure, or anything else. I decided right then that I was going to wipe his face, or wipe his eye." Marshall had his revenge. He not only distinguished himself at VMI, emerging in his final year as unani¬ mous choice for first captain, the high¬ est ranking cadet officer, he also court¬ ed and, after graduation in the class of 1901, married a Lexington woman, Lily Coles, six years his senior, whom Stu¬ art had courted when he was a cadet. OFF TO MINDORO THT: SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR WAS over; Spain had relinquished Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and sold the Philippines to us for $20 million. But now the bloody Philippine insurrection promp¬ ted the United States to expand its per¬ manent army to loo,000. Marshall, a tall, lean, plain-handsome 20-year-old with sharp blue eyes and an air of crisp reserve, won a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Early in 1902, he said goodbye to his bride and set ofl for Mindoro Island in the Philippines, to begin a military career. It ended 4g years and seven months later at the retirement of Sec¬ retary of Defense George Marshall with the permanent rank of five-star general. One of Marshall's attractive qualities as a leader was his refusal to conde¬ scend or bully; perhaps his relations with his older brother taught him that. A briskly intelligent reserve was an ingredient in his authority: no non¬ sense, but no overbearing power dis¬ plays, cither. He had a huge temper, which he eventually learned to con¬ trol. He understood perfectly the way th.it, within the context of Army hier¬ archies, discipline could function During the fighting in Italy in 1945, Marshall finds time to visit the U.S. Fifth Army. Later an impassive Marshall takes a "backseat" beside an ebullient Eisenhower at a victory celebration. In 1943, the two discuss plans with Winston Churchill. through a democratic subtext of respect given and required. Once when he came upon one ol his officers berating an enlisted man (who no doubt de¬ served it), Marshall called the officer aside and said, "You must remember that the man is an American citizen just the same as you are." In the Philippines he soon estab¬ lished an ironclad but low-key style of command. When he was leading his seven-man patrol single file across a jungle stream one day, one of the men yelled "Crocodiles!" The patrol stam¬ peded for the bank, trampling Marshall as they went. "It wasn't a time for cus¬ sing around," he recalled, years later. Instead, he picked himself up, waded forward, ordered the men to fall in, then, at the head of the column, marched them back across the stream and then back again into the water and so across in proper military fashion. Then he held a rifle inspection. In November 1903, Marshall was or¬ dered back to the United States. Now began his long seasoning years—hard work in the obscurity of a peacetime army given over mostly to the waiting games of police duty, mapmaking and necessarily theoretical military exercis¬ es. An army at peace is an animal in hibernation; the seniority system con¬ geals promotions. Garrison duty ritual¬ izes spit and polish, and tedium. Marshall was posted for a time at Fort Reno, in Oklahoma, on the north fork of the Canadian River. The Ar¬ my's old rationale for Plains duty had by now expired; whites had all but completed their settlement, and the suppression of the Indians. From Fort Reno, Marshall set forth by wagon and mule train to map 2,000 square miles of the south western -Texas desert, some of the harshest landscape in America. Because of the seniority system, Mar¬ shall would not be made a first lieu¬ tenant until late winter of 1907 but, in 1906, was admitted to the Army's In¬ fantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Such schools were to become battlegrounds between the Army's older conservatives and its younger reformers, who saw that, be¬ cause of new weapons, the internal- combustion engine and Marconi's wireless, the nature of war had funda¬ mentally changed. Agility, mobility, communications and firepower were about to alter its metaphysics. It was Marshall's eventual mastery of the new realities—the need for rapid thinking and improvising, for a sure snapshooter's instinct in the field, sup¬ ported by formidably organized pipe¬ lines of logistics and manpower—that made him at last the controlling wiz¬ ard of World War II. Marshall biogra¬ pher Ed Cray assesses the historic cost of the transition in military thinking and the resistance of the military Old Guard to new ideas earlier in the cen¬ tury: "The successive bloodbaths blind¬ ly ordered by superannuated British and French generals at the beginning ol World War I would validate the reformers, but the cost would be a gen¬ eration of Europe's young men." Ranked first in his class at Leaven¬ worth, Marshall was promoted to first lieutenant and went on to Leaven¬ worth's Army Staff College. In the- years that followed, up until 1917 when he shipped out for the war in France, he established a pattern of distin¬ guished performance at frustratingly low rank. At the age of 54, in 1913, and still a first lieutenant, he told the com¬ mandant of VMI that the "absolute stagnation in promotion in the infantry has caused me to make tentative plans for resigning as soon as business con¬ ditions improve somewhat." He soon thought better of it. Marshall distinguished himself not¬ ably as a staff officer who, in a scries of large-scale military maneuvers—on the Texas-Mexico border, in Connecti¬ cut, in the Philippines—proved a bril¬ liant improvisationalist capable of mov¬ ing whole armies with remarkable deftness. After the Batangas maneuvers in the Philippines in January 1914, an Army legend has it, the commanding general called his staff together to cite Marshall as "the greatest military gen¬ ius since Stonewall Jackson." At Fort Douglas, Utah, in 1916, the commander, Lieut. Col. Johnson Hagood, paid Mar¬ shall an astonishing compliment on his efficiency report: "This officer is well qualified to command a division, with the rank of major general, in time ol war, and I would like very much to serve under his command." Woodrow Wilson, reelected in 1916 on a promise of keeping America out of war (as Franklin Roosevelt promised to cio in 1940, as Lyndon Johnson promised in 1964), ended by getting us into the war in April 1917 and sending two million Americans to France under Gen. John j. Pershing, who was fresh Irom chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico. TOO VALUABLE FOR COMBAT BY 1917, NO INTELLIGENT SOLDIER HAD illusions about the trench warfare that had been destroying Europe for three years. In one day, July 1, 1916, at the Battle of the Somme, England squan¬ dered 60,000 men, 2,000 more than America lost in 12 years in Indochina. As the First Division's operations officer, a job usually assigned to a lieu¬ tenant colonel, Marshall began training and organizing the inexperienced American troops at Gondrecourt in Lorraine. He saw combat briefly as an observer along Gen. Henri-Philippe Petain's Verdun front. (Marshall got caught under lire, then entangled in barbed wire, and left part of his pants on the barbs as he scrambled back to the trenches.) Made acting chief ol stafl of the First Division, he had a memo¬ rable encounter with Pershing. The general had exploded at Marshall's commander, Gen. William L. Sibcrt. Marshall, in turn, lost his temper on behalf of Sibcrt and blistered Pershing with a furious monologue aboul the condition of the troops, and inadequate supplies and transport. Marshall's fel¬ low7 officers figured Marshall had com¬ mitted professional suicide right before their eyes. In fact, Pershing decided that he had at last found an officer who would tell him the truth. Marshall hoped for a troop com¬ mand. Douglas MacArthur, almost the same age, was already a lull colonel and chief of stall of the 42nd Division. Marshall, however, was considered too valuable as a stall officer. He was trans¬ ferred to Pershing's headquarters at Chaumont. General Ludendorlf's of¬ fensive in the spring of 1918, Germany's last hope of victory, had run out of gas. Marshall was ordered to plan the Amer¬ ican part in an Allied counterattack. Marshall's later story in World War II—too valuable for combat, con¬ demned against his wishes to function as a sort of military desk wizard—was prefigured in the St. Mihiel and Mcusc- Argonne campaigns. Rising rapidly and now holding the temporary rank of colonel, he organized the transfer of some 600,000 American troops, and 900,000 tons of supplies and ammuni¬ tion, from the St. Mihiel sector to the Meuse-Argonne battlefield, all moved by night, in secret, and without detec¬ tion by the Germans. It was one of the largest and most complicated logistical undertakings of the war. The Meuse-Argonne operation in the fall of 1918 was a kind of localized rehearsal for the global task that Mar¬ shall accomplished in World War II. It called into play his remarkable gift of dispassionate concentration upon the task at hand. His second wife, Kather¬ ine Tupper Marshall—a widow whom Marshall married in 1930, three years after his first wife's death—observed his behavior during the first bleak months ol 1942, when the Allies were being thrown back on almost all fronts around the world. She said, "It was as though he lived outside of himself and George Marshall was someone he was constantly appraising, advising, and training to meet a situation." Neither the Meuse-Argonne cam¬ paign nor the logistics of America's global war succeeded simply because Marshall had character. He possessed an extraordinary intellect, an astound- ing memory and what might be called a kinetic military imagination—a genius for seeing the dynamic interaction of facts in rapid motion through time. Marshall's focused analytical intelli¬ gence would be on display when he testified as Army Chief of Staff before Congressional committees or gave occasional press conferences. During World War II, he would sometimes invite 40 or 50 correspondents into his office, listen to a long series of ques¬ tions from them, and then, without notes, deliver a half-hour monologue in which he answered each question in turn (lacing the correspondent directly as he answered that man's question) and at the same time wove all the answers into a coherent overall picture. After World War I, America, of course, demobilized, turning away in horror and relief from foreign night¬ mares to an isolationism that relied upon the vast Atlantic and Pacific moats. Marshall returned to America as per¬ sonal aide to Pershing. With his com¬ mander he sat in on long conversations with President Warren G. Harding. Marshall stood above partisan politics but learned how to deal with poli¬ ticians and national leaders—an appren¬ ticeship that paid off later. His years as aide to the Army Chief of Stafl gave Marshall an education in the political realities of soldiering in a democracy. THE "BENNING REVOLUTION" BUT MARSHALL, ALTHOUGH SUFFICIENTLY horrified by the carnage of the war, again faced a soldier's frustration with peacetime. The nation heedlessly downsized its army to virtually sym¬ bolic proportions, and he was stuck with the permanent rank of major. After five years with Pershing, and a promotion to lieutenant colonel, he became assistant commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Geor¬ gia. It was there that he began training young officers in the lessons of fire¬ power and maneuverability that formed the basis for the new Army. Tactics could no longer be static. Mar- Seated in his garden at age 71, after retiring from a distinguished 50-year career as soldier and statesman, George Marshall at last manages to look relaxed. shall trained officers with a view to what Cray describes as "that first aggressive thrust by an enemy increas¬ ingly motorized, with aircraft rather than cavalry to scout ahead." In one lecture Marshall said, "Picture the opening campaign of a war. It is a cloud of uncertainties, haste, rapid movements, congestion on the roads, strange terrain, lack of ammunition and supplies at the right place at the right moment, failures of communications, terrific tests of endurance, and misun¬ derstandings in direct proportion to the inexperience of the officers and the aggressive action of the enemy. Add to this . . . fast flying planes, List moving tanks, armored cars ..." He was describing exactly the blitzkrieg used by Germany against France in 1940. It was in his five years at Benning, during what became known in the Army as the "Benning Revolution," that Marshall began accumulating the roster of names—kept in his own first- class memory or else in the fabled "black book" that officers thought he maintained—from which he later put together American military leadership in World War II. Lieut. Col. Joseph Stillwell and Maj. Omar Bradley were among Marshall's instructors at Ben¬ ning. It was at Benning, too, that Mar¬ shall developed the reputation—later a sometimes rueful Army legend—for ruthlessness in judging officers and sacking even the most experienced men in favor of junior officers who, in his judgment, were up to leading a modern army. The 1930s were difficult for Marshall. He was in his 50s now, still a colonel. The Army's atherosclerotic system had reasserted itself. He confessed to Per¬ shing, "I'm fast getting too old to have any future of importance in the Army." Finally, in October of 19^6, Marshall made brigadier. Less than two years later, he went to Washington to become the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff under Gen. Malin Craig. By now, history was boiling along like one of the dark-cloud montages tumbling in time-lapse photography across a movie screen. From Tokyo to Berlin, from Moscow to Chungking, to London and Washington and New York, the world situation deteriorated. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt, Chiang, Mao and the Japanese all were making their preliminary moves. The Italian invasion of Ethiopia dramatized the weakness of the League of Nations and was a prelude to larger tragedy. In the Soviet Union, Stalin had launched the show trials that would result in the imprisonment or execution of mil¬ lions of the U.S.S.R.'s party functionar¬ ies, bureaucrats, military officers, phy¬ sicians and scholars—a social and cultural apocalypse. And in March 1936, Hitler moved unopposed into the demilitarized Rhineland. Germany sealed alliances with Italy and with Japan, and helped establish Francisco Franco in power in Spain. In March 19^9, Hitler occupied the remains ol Czechoslovakia. In Sep¬ tember, it was Poland's turn. When Brigadier General Marshall reported for duty at the War Depart¬ ment in Washington, Chief of Staff Craig, an old friend from World War I, greeted him hy saying, "Thank Cod, George, you have come to hold up my trembling hands." Today, World War II and its after¬ math seem a Jurassic age, a remote time when giants roamed the earth perpetrating primitive deeds (Fascism, global conquest, genocide and the nuclear awakening that was the war's last act). The cast of characters (Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Mussolini, Mao) has an earthshaking, mythic qual¬ ity. Out of the origin myth. Hitler became the baseline for the discussion of evil, as Munich became the caution¬ ary model of appeasement. George Marshall becomes in my mind the paradigm of a certain kind of American virtue, now all but extinct. Marshall lingers in the nation's memo¬ ry, I think, with a wistful poignance— a kind of reproach. i Lance Morrow, author of Heart: A Memoir, is a Time magazine essayist and uniuersity professor at Boston Uniuersity.