27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective

By Raymond Moley | Go to book overview

Soft Heart in a Hard Shell
HUGH JOHNSON

OF ALL THE FIGURES mentioned in this book, it is most difficult to write of Hugh Johnson. For to recall the days of my association with him, the causes in which we were joined, the disappointments we shared, the manner of the man and the atmosphere in which he moved through the last great ten years of his life is to feel again his vitality, his cosmic pretensions, his torrential emotion and his armored divisions of words. It means, too, a return of the feelng that came with his death--bitter regret that he burned his precious vitality so recklessly, that he could not have seen the frustration at the end of the war he opposed so earnestly, that he could not counsel us on the problems of its aftermath. Even more, there is regret that the country he loved could not have benefited for many more years from the ideas he created in such abundance, the color he gave to dull matters of state and the inspiration he generated by the written and spoken word.

With all the externals of a tough realist, a ruthless engine of discipline and judgment and a volcano of invective, he was in reality a man of tender and copious emotion, a sentimentalist and a dreamer of fine-spun fancies. No man ever secreted a softer heart in a harder shell.

Hugh Johnson graduated from West Point in 1903. Douglas MacArthur was a classmate. Johnson rose rapidly in the Army, but his restless mind moved to other fields, and a few years later he captured a law degree at the University of California. Fifteen years after graduation from West Point, he was a brigadier general. He planned the selective-service system of the First World War and helped in its administration. He moved into industry

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