USMC journalist, turned Embassy FSO, now USAF Web Chief
As a former Marine, I always considered Douglas MacArthur a failure because I perceived he was disrespectful of his leadership, specifically the American Presidency.
However, after reading this book and getting a much more nuanced understanding of the chaotic politics of the time, and watching the movie, the Trial of Billy Mitchell, I wonder if even I would have been able to follow such ludicrous orders as they endured.
In the end, I came to deeply admire Gen. MacArthur and I'm grateful in the modern era for the Japan we have now. I also had no idea that Gen. MacArthur's initial failure to understand the movement of technology developments and the significance of airpower resulted in the Bataan Death March, the largest surrender of American troops. While he was a great man, when he made a mistake, it was a colossal failure.
This book is written by a great Marine, William Manchester, and he highlights the fascinating and the painful realities of the world of MacArthur. The story transported me during my daily commutes as I listened to it from an audible download through my car stereo each morning and afternoon. Some elements were so painful that my eyes became teary.
Douglas was truly a great American and we're lucky he commanded the helms he did during those critical moments in history.
The stories regarding the Korean War. I never studied that conflict very deeply
I chose this book because I knew nothing about MacArthur (beyond the superficial) and I had a project which was going to be tedious and long. I wanted a long audio book. This book pleasantly surprised me, and I enjoyed it. Caveat: I enjoy military history and psychological breakdowns, and this book delves deep into these. It may not be for everyone. Good history, though.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
MacArthur deserves to be better remembered. He's in jeopardy of being recalled merely as the guy Truman had to fire for insubordination. But he was a complex character: arrogant, brilliant, the consummate military commander, perennial outsider. Eventually, the powers that be found a proper use for him, keeping the Japanese busy while they focused on Europe. MacArthur was understandably a little paranoid given the way he was treated, but whether he ever understood how he was being used is a mystery this book never answers. Maybe it cannot be answered. The book is comprehensive in its scope, and the author works hard not to draw inferences unsupported by his sources. This is the virtue of good biography and also its shortcoming. Because why do we read biography if not to understand what the subject was thinking or feeling? For all the documentation about MacArthur and all the witnesses who knew him, there just isn't that much information about his internal life. Of course, MacArthur had a vested interest in cultivating his own version of himself. Manchester does about as well as anyone could in reconstructing MacArthur.
Overall this was a very good book and I highly recommend it. The discussion of MacArthur's father provides the core of a side discussion on the generation of military leaders that preceded MacArthur, and I thought that this was especially valuable. I also thought this book did a good job of de-mythologizing MacArthur and showing how he was truly perceived in his own day, which was different than how we perceive him today. In addition, the book does a good job of explaining an important sub-theater of WW2 and the Korean War.
Male. Mammal. High school equivalency graduate. I like fruit and I just got a haircut. I would describe myself as somewhere between Christmas and being buried alive.
The epic life story of one of the greatest generals in American history as told by a virtuoso biographer and storyteller. You tell me. Does it get any better than this? Well yes, it does. The narration of Tom Parker (also known as Grover Gardner) can best be described as an iron fist in a velvet glove. Parker complements the story with his gravitas and smooth diction. I have listened to about 50 audio books from many genres. I can tell you without reservation that this book is a must in your collection. Buy it. You won't be disappointed. One last thing. This not just a book for those interested in military history. The story covers every facet of MacArthur's life and it should be of interest to anyone. MacArthur was truly fascinating.
This masterpiece endures and allows a glimpse back in time at heroic and seriously flawed personalities. It is of special significance given the fighting of another war. Who to trust; the generals or the politicians. History teaches strange lessons.
When it's impossible for me to go there, reading takes me there.
Yes and no. Yes, it's good to know the facts. No, the narrator's voice really gave me a headache.
No. There must be a better biography of Douglas MacArthur.
Not much. Much.
Look for an alternative biography of Douglas MacArthur.
50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction
Manchester didn't write a lot of books, but what he did write is stunning. This book was a revelation in the quality of the writing which made for a very enjoyable read!
If you ever wondered how japan recovered to take on the world after ww2 Like I did read this. Your preconceived notions of MacArthur will take a big hit and a facinating rarely visited story will fill in an overlooked hole in the usual telling of the ww2 story.
Beyond the WW2 aspect- this biography is a fascinating well told tale of a giant of the times. If you liked this- read the last lion trilogy, which is Manchesters masterpiece bio on Churchill.
When JFK died Jackie asked HIM to write the story of his last days!!( wish audible had that one). and his other book for that matter called- the arms of krupp . AUDIBLE please put out his missing 2 books thanks
As a young man I had no knowledge of MacArthur what so ever. I read this because I'm interested in military history and my grandfather served under him in The Pacific. This was a fabulous read; entertaining all the way through. I found myself laughing aloud at his antics and bravado. If I ever had "The Dinner" where I could invite people dead or alive, Mac would be seated at my immediate left