Every morning my email inbox contains an item from Delancey Place - “eclectic excerpts delivered to your email every day”. It’s usually a bit from a recently published book, usually historical in topic, and always interesting.
The entry for May 30, 2014 was from The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur, by Mark Perry. Here’s an edited excerpt from that excerpt: "As [Marshall] scanned the list of senior officers capable of higher command [to be stationed in Australia and lead the war against Japan in the south Pacific] … …Dwight Eisenhower, Mark Clark, George Patton, Omar Bradley, Courtney Hodges, Robert 'Nelly' Richardson, and a half dozen others (all of them listed in the little black book he kept in the drawer of his office at the War Department) he noted that none of them had [MacArthur's] experience. Eisenhower was untested, Clark a sniveler, and Patton a marplot;”
Well, stop right there! Marplot. What’s a marplot? “Inquiring minds want to know” – so to Google I went and found the Merriam-Webster definition:
Definition of MARPLOT: one who frustrates or ruins a plan or undertaking by meddling
I never knew much about Patton, except for what I got from the movie, so the word ‘marplot’ in connection with him could have meant anything. Turns out that the word’s origins are somewhere back in the late eighteenth century. Marplot – what a juicy word, what a useful word! I believe I’ve run into several marplots in my lifetime – haven’t we all?
It’s finding intriguing little gems like ‘marplot’ that keep me going each day to sites like The Writer’s Almanac, Astronomy Picture of the Day, or even the BBC News in Pictures. Takes but a moment, but one never knows what treasures one will unearth, do one?
I never did read the rest of the excerpt, but there’s always more to learn out there.