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American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 -…

American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 - 1964 (1978)

by William Manchester

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1,192146,725 (4.09)37
  1. 00
    The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume I: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 by William Manchester (weloytty)
    weloytty: Another biography of a towering twentieth century political/military figure by the same author. Neither are without error or bias, but they are a wonderful introduction to either figure as well as great examples of popular biographies.

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A well written book about a great American - Definitely a complex man. I wish that William Manchester had been less apologetic about the negatives in MacArthur's. life. I found it irritating when the author would insert phrases like "we can understand his failure" or some such wording as he starts to explain MacArthur's behavior. Manchester's glossing over his receipt of the Medal of Honor in World War I was disappointing at best.
Definitely a good read about a complex leader. ( )
  busterrll | May 8, 2015 |
The biography of General Douglas MacArthur, written by one of the men that served under him in the Pacific theater of World War 2. Sometimes the reading was kind of laborious, but I finished it feeling that I really did understand what made the man. I especially enjoyed the account of the war with Japan and MacArthur's superior tactics. ( )
  troybert | Sep 30, 2011 |
This was a very fascinating book, very detailed, and very well researched. Only about the last 6 paragraphs of the book did not have end notes associated with them.

MacArthur was, as a Japanese statesman said to John Gunther in 1950, “Not a simple man”. And this book could not have been a simple book to write. Neither completely sympathetic to the General, nor a trashing of the General, I felt this book took a very good “middle-of-the-road” approach to the subject. Manchester treads a fine line in praising the General when it is richly deserved, and knocking him justly when that to is deserved.

It feels like Manchester truly tried to understand a man that is very hard to understand. And what a man to try and understand! Perhaps one of the most brilliant strategic offensive Generals in the history of the United States (if not the world), but it could be argued, he wasn't too good at defensive fighting. The inexcusable lack of judgment leading up the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, for example, is outweighed by the brilliancy of the strategic fight he lead in the Pacific after that. And by all arguments, the amphibious landing at Inchon was a master stroke of military leadership.

Where I think he will (and should) go down in history as a great leader is by the people of the Philippines, and Japan. His proconsul-ship of the defeated Japan, the very same Japan he defeated on the battlefield, is what will always cement his reputation, both there, and here at home.

The book spent almost a full chapter on the public fight between the General and Truman. And pretty much lays the blame for it in both corners. Both men made drastic mistakes, both men did the right things, in the wrong manner, and neither man would surrender. It is my opinion, after having read several Truman biographies, and now this book, that neither man could get through to the other. Neither made an effort to see things from the others point of view, and both were pig-headed enough to never back down.

All and all, a very good book, well written, and enjoyable to read.

On a side note: In this book, Manchester debunks Merle Miller's claims in “Plain Speaking” that MacArthur slighted Truman at Wake Island. The only documented source of this slight is Miller himself, all other sources do not concur with that. Ref page 588 of Manchester's book for that discussion. ( )
2 vote Bill_Masom | Jun 17, 2011 |
A book in the old mold of what kids read in high school: voluminous, weighty, and at least demonstrating some admirable qualities.
  gmicksmith | Jul 15, 2010 |
Excellent biography. The scope of his life was truly epic, leadership in three major wars and reshaping Japanese society after WWII. MacArthur led a dramatic life and Manchester crafted the raw material of that life into an informative and entertaining read. My only criticism of the book is the lack a guide to the figures in MacArthur's life, a guide to at least the staff officers he had in the Pacific would have been useful considering they're introduced once and then most referred to by their last names for the rest of the book. ( )
  cblaker | Jun 30, 2010 |
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American Caesar, no less: from the title onward, Manchester has produced a biography of MacArthur so grandiose and so singleminded as to satisfy even the giant ego of its subject. But this "great thundering paradox," "the best of men and the worst of men," is not without his manifold, if more life-size, fascinations. He was, ineluctably, his father's son: at 18, Arthur MacArthur dashed up Missionary Ridge to plant the Union flag and win the battle--and later, his insubordination as military governor of the Philippines cost him his pest and his career. Young MacArthur learned everything from his father, it appears ("It's the orders you disobey that make you famous," he said in World War I), except what his paranoia perhaps did not permit him to learn; how to escape his father's fate.
added by smasler | editKirkus Reviews (Sep 1, 1978)
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Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

-Simonides at Thermopylae
To the 29th Marines

3512 landed on Okinawa April 1, 1945
2821 fell in 82 days

The highest price ever paid by a U.S. Marine Corps Regiment in a single battle
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He was a great thundering paradox of a man, noble and ignoble, inspiring and outrageous, arrogant and shy, the best of men and the worst of men, the most protean, the most ridiculous, and the most sublime.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316544981, Hardcover)

MacArthur, the public figure, the private man, the soldier-hero whose mystery and appeal created a uniquely American legend, portrayed in a brilliant biography that will challenge the cherished myths of admirers and critics alike.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:04 -0400)

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Biography of one of the most controversial American generals.

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