This technique is used by bad historians to assert facts and opinions that have been disproved or off-the-wall. Primary and reliable secondary sources, (even when listed in the bibliography) are ignored. Instead a fact/assertion is based on an unreliable or obscure secondary source.
Thomas Ricks “The Generals” states “MacArthur tried to keep Marshall down in the 1930s”. What is Thomas Ricks’ source? An interview with Omar Bradley in the late 1950s! Why would Omar Bradley know anything about it? Well…Meanwhile his Bibliography lists Clayton James’ definitive ‘MacArthur’ biography, Pogue’s George Marshall interview transcripts, and his definitive George Marshall Biography. All these sources (based on interviews and source documents) state that MacArthur did NOT try to “keep Marshall down. Both books point out:
· MacArthur was not vindictive and didn’t try to keep anyone “down” while Chief-of-Staff or as SWPA Theater Commander
· MacArthur and Marshall were not ‘rivals’ before 1930 – they barely knew each other
· MacArthur didn’t help Marshall “jump the line” – but then he didn’t help anyone “jump the line”
· The Seniority System was based on Congressional and Presidential action – MacArthur disliked it and presented a new promotion system to Congress in December 1934
· FDR and the Secretary of War were the key players in deciding who to promote to General in the 1930s
· MacArthur stated in writing that “Marshall was the best of the Infantry Colonels”
· In 1935, MacArthur recommended Marshall be promoted to General.
· MacArthur wanted to promote Marshall to “Chief of Infantry” a two-star general position.
· Marshall’s transfer to Chicago in 1933 was not a “career killer” but an important and sensitive post. Marshall didn’t want to go because he hated living in big cities and liked the South.
Yet Ricks ignores this and uses an unreliable secondary source to bash MacArthur. It’s the secondary source two-step.