In 1960, Henry Steele Commager, a professor of history at Amherst, wrote an article that asked why America had failed to produce a generation of leaders to rival the country’s founding generation. It’s true that the Civil War had given rise to a great president and two generals of unusual military gifts, but Commager saw in his day no leaders of comparable distinction. I’d like to talk about a group of men in living memory whose leadership skills rivaled those of the makers of the Revolution and the architects of the Constitution. These were men who saw the country through the Second World War and especially through the early years of the Cold War—all of whom worked at one time or another for George Marshall. One cluster in ...