4-350 To David Laurance Chambers, April 14, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 14, 1944

Subject: World War II

To David Laurance Chambers1

April 14, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Mr. Chambers:

I have just received your letter of April 8.2

My letter of April 1 did not carry a specific protest directed to you by General Marshall. I merely felt that you would be interested in having me pass along his invariable and inevitable reaction. I am familiar with it as a result of three years’ service in his office.

General Marshall has no idea that he can suppress such writing. His feeling is that his relations with the Army—men as well as commanders—is far more apt to be unfavorably prejudiced by such publicity rather than benefited. The Regular Army personnel in particular is suspicious of the basis or inspiration for write-ups of this character, and he feels, or rather realizes, that their confidence is essential to the successful leadership of the Army.3


Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. This document was written by Marshall for the signature of Colonel Frank McCarthy, secretary of the General Staff.

2. Chambers, president of the Bobbs-Merrill Company, had written to Colonel McCarthy on April 8 in reply to McCarthy’s April 1 letter stating that it was General Marshall’s desire that his biography not be written at that time. William Frye, in charge of War Department coverage for the Associated Press, was under contract with Bobbs-Merrill Company to write Marshall’s biography. The Bureau of Public Relations had already informed Frye that neither the War Department nor individual officers on duty could offer him any assistance. McCarthy insisted that Marshall was “firm in his feeling that the publication of a biography would be detrimental to his best performance of the task in which he is now engaged.” He recommended that Chambers seek an agreement with Frye to abandon the project. (McCarthy to Chambers, April 1, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Chambers replied that “the time for the book is now.” Rather than being detrimental to the chief of staff’s performance, he believed that the book would win Marshall even wider support for his policies. The people were entitled to know that their trust was not misplaced. “Mr. Frye has found his admiration confirmed and increased at every step of his research. The more he has learned of his career, his character, his ideas, the more he has been impressed with them,” wrote Chambers. (Chambers to McCarthy, April 8, 1944, ibid.)

3. Chambers replied, “We do not mean to contest his personal wish, however mistaken we think the ground for it may be.” If a request came from General Marshall himself, they would delay publication until hostilities ended. (Chambers to McCarthy, April 25, 1944, ibid.) William Frye suspended his research on the project in the spring of 1944 and went to the European theater as a war correspondent. (Frye to Marshall, December 6, 1945, ibid.) Bobbs-Merrill Company did publish Frye’s Marshall: Citizen Soldier in 1947.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 408-409.

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Holding ID: 4-350

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