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American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 -…
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American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 - 1964 (1978)

by William Manchester

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    The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory 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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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. ( )
1 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 |
William Manchester, noted historian, brings us an even-handed picture of a very complex, gifted man. As with most men of genius, there are accompanying problems of temperament, ego and psychological stability. No one doubts MacArthur's military daring, his ability to confound the enemy, or his own personal courage, but along with these attributes emerges a man of vanity, paranoia and arrogance. Manchester gives us glimpses of the close-knit family--wife, Jean, young son, Arthur and MacArthur who together survive the bombardment of Corregidor, a frantic trip by PT boat and bomber to Australia, life there, back to Manila, Tokyo and finally home to the Waldorf Towers in New York City. He was a private man, shunning society as much as possible with his wife and son providing all that he needed in the way of emotional support. It is to his credit that in the midst of an adoring public and great access, he remained faithful to his wife and was a good, though indulgent, father to his son. One of the greatest surprises in his life is the way in which he "ruled" Japan after its defeat, fashioning a constitution that liberated Japan from its feudal past, released political prisoners and elevated women to be equal members of society. One of the great ironies of the aftermath of WWII is how the proud, fanatic, defeated nation of Japan, came to respect and appreciate the man most responsible for its downfall. I was one of those who as a young girl was at National Airport at 1 am to welcome him back to the US after his firing by President Truman in 1951. After one final brilliant maneuver in the landing at Inchon in Korea, MacArthur was stripped of all command for what his livid commander-in-chief called insubordination in the policy of pursuing the Communist Chinese who had entered the battle in the Korean War. MacArthur was a patriot and a warrior and could not adjust to the new world of limited engagement and political timidity. He returned to popular acclaim and was honored by succeeding presidents. ( )
  seoulful | Jan 4, 2010 |
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Epigraph
Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

-Simonides at Thermopylae
Dedication
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Biography of one of the most controversial American generals.

» see all 2 descriptions

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