1-279 To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer, September 17, 1929

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 17, 1929

To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer1

September 17, 1929 Fort Benning, Georgia

Dear John:

The manuscript of your new book arrived during my absence on a camping trip in the mountains, and after my return I was pretty much occupied with a number of all-day riding excursions which had been planned to take advantage of the cool days towards the end of the summer. Therefore, I was too sleepy at night to manage much reading, until my last few days.

I think you have done a beautiful job. I think your Chapter III is a classic, and to a degree which is almost a disadvantage to the remainder of the book. All of the matter is unusually well written, but this one chapter is unique, in my opinion, in the presentation of military matters.

I took a liberty, unauthorized, but I believe, well advised. Mary Roberts Rinehart’s cottage was right close to my cabin. I made an engagement with her for one afternoon and without telling her whose manuscript I was reading, and after a brief resume of what the entire book was about, I read to her Chapter III.2

She had been undoubtedly prepared to be bored with some trite, amateurishly written military discussion. She sat in front of the fire, smoking, while I did my best. When I had finished, she jumped to her feet and exclaimed, “That is magnificent; that is one of the most interesting things I have ever heard. I am thrilled with it." She wanted to read the entire manuscript, but there was no time for that. She button-holed me several times later to discuss it.

Now my idea in doing this was to get the reaction of a trained writer and a super-expert on publicity, as well as that of a woman, and mother. You may remember that her article in the Saturday Evening Post was one of the most potent weapons used to organize the women behind the administration’s effort to pass the Selective Service Act in April 1917. She wrote this from the viewpoint of a mother.3 It might appeal to her to review, or at least liberally quote, your book, and if she did, I promise you it would be good advertising.

I suggest that you quietly have the publisher send her one of the first copies, without any request for a review.

I hope you do not mind the liberty I took. It probably will not appeal to you as very important one way or the other, but I believe I have a better sense of procedure in this direction than you have.

I just returned Thursday night and my school work opened this morning. General King arrives at noon, General Fuqua tonight; and General Summerall on Thursday. I will be pretty busy.

Affectionately yours,

Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, General Correspondence, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. To support his request for General Pershing to read the book and write an introduction, Palmer wrote to Marshall on September 20 to say that he was “taking the liberty” of sending a copy of the letter printed here to the general. (LC/J. McA. Palmer Papers.)

2. Marshall meant that he had read the first part of Part III, “Dramatis Personae,” which is printed as chapter XV. (See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-280 [1: 347].)

3. Mary Roberts Rinehart was a well-known author of novels, plays, and nonfiction. During the World War she wrote for the Division of Syndicate Features of the Committee on Public Information (the Creel Committee).

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 346-347.

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