Memoirs and Decency
In the preface to Education of a General, a biography of General George Marshall, the author, Forrest Pogue, explains that Marshall would not write his own memoirs.
His refusal to write his memoirs threatened to leave a serious gap in our knowledge of one of the great leaders of World War II. Pressed repeatedly during the war by friends to keep some record, he declined, saying that a diarist ran the risk of doing only those things which would look good in the journal or of putting down only those actions which would make him look good. A journal which he kept in World War I was later destroyed on the grounds that he may have been unfair to some of the men discussed therein.

Despite pressure from publishers and friends to write his autobiography, he refused to listen to lavish offers of money and declined all inducements to write articles or sketches or to use the services of a ghost writer. Only when the George C. Marshall Research Foundation was organized did he finally agree to cooperate with a trained historian in a series of interviews. Even here, he drew back from pronouncing harsh judgments on his contemporaries, constantly reminding his biographers the he didn't want readers turning through the book to see who had been insulted on page nine.

What are the chances of someone in government today having the same, high moral standard? People like Alan Greenspan can't wait for their $8 million advance to say how stupid the people were with whom they worked.

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