Truman

McCullough, David

Touchstone, 1992

pp. 533 - 534

On George C. Marshall, the “first career soldier to become Secretary of State.” Distantly related to John Marshall, “the great Chief Justice.” In World War I, Marshall, “as Pershing’s aid . . . directed the American advance to the Argonne. As Dean Acheson would write, there was little military glamour about him, nothing pretentious. Rather it was an intangible aura that affected people. Like George Washington with whom he was often compared, Marshall was a figure of such flawless rectitude and self-command that he both inspired awe and made description difficult. Churchill called him the ‘noblest Roman.’ Bill Hassett on Truman’s staff spoke of the ‘reverence’ Marshall inspired. Imperturbable under pressure-‘the imperturbability of a good conscience,’ George Kennan called it. Invariably courteous, he was without a trace of petty vanity or self-serving ambition.” Acheson liked to recall in later years that the moment Marshall entered a room, one could feel his presence. “It was a striking and commanding force. His figure conveyed intensity, which his voice, low, staccato, and incisive, reinforced. It compelled respect. It spread a sense of authority and calm. At the Pentagon, some lower-ranking officers had been known to exit from Marshall’s presence backwards, and no one of any rank, not even the President called him ‘George,’ but only ‘General Marshall,’ a title that suited him as though he had been baptized with it.”