Mattis’s drive, born of his devotion to the Corps, is his most telling trait. He works insanely hard, propels himself extremely quickly, making himself, every day, a better Marine. Much of the work is intellectual. He thought the second Iraq war was a crazy idea, but when he was ordered to command part of it, he started reading Xenophon and ancient books about warfare in Mesopotamia.
“If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you,” Mattis and West write.
In Mattis’s career you see something one saw in the great George Marshall’s career: That you need to work within a structure to be creative. Both generals were total company men, dedicated to their service, yet they were constantly trying to change its practices to keep up with the times.