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Publisher's Summary

Virtually all Americans above a certain age hold strong opinions about Douglas MacArthur. They either worship him or despise him. Now, in this superb book, one of our most outstanding writers, after a meticulous three-year examination of the record, presents his startling insights about the man. The narrative is gripping, because the general's life was fascinating. It is moving, because he was a man of vision. It ends, finally, in tragedy, because his character, though majestic, was tragically flawed.
©1978 William Manchester (P)1991 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Listening to Parker, one imagines a jovial uncle delivering a slap on the back and sitting down to describe war experiences in a rich voice filled with humor and pathos. The 'you-are-there' quality grabs and holds. This is a carefully done, seamless audio presentation." ( AudioFile)

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An Honest Portrayal of a Flawed Hero

Manchester has been hailed as one of the all-time great biographers. His two-part trilogy (yes, the third part was never written.) of Churchill is fabulous. This biography of MacArthur is also excellent. You will learn many new aspects of the island-hopping strategy so brilliantly executed to conquer unfathomable expanses of the Pacific. (Caveat: get a good map to refer to as you listen.) The size of the Japanese conquests that the US had to liberate was immense. The flawed character of the capable General is also a fascinating study.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great material. Well read.

McArthur was a complex and gifted leader. This biography treats him fairly and brings to light many facts that have been buried or misinterpreted by previous treatments. It is neither fawning hagiography nor poisonous character assination. It was a great listening experience.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • SDit
  • LA County, CA USA
  • 02-13-13

Masterpiece of Biography

Where does American Caesar rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the best. The writing pulls the reader in.

Any additional comments?

A little dated in its 1970s attitudes and fascination with Japan's modern economy, but otherwise an extremely engaging and balanced look at an important historical figure.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A Great American

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.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Barry
  • Petaluma, CA, United States
  • 08-18-12

Thorough and detailed

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • X
  • Cincinnati, OH, United States
  • 03-13-11

Hail Caesar and Hail Manchester!!!

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Great Leader....indeed.

I must admit I didn't expect such a balanced account. A real leader of leaders in a time of many great leaders. You will love him or hate him but it is impossible to remain indifferent. I became immersed in the life of the man and the history of the time. The narrator did a top job.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • Williamsburg , VA, USA
  • 05-20-08


This seems to be a well balanced picture of one of the greatest Americans. Manchester makes effort to point out the flaws in MacArthur's character as well as his genious as a military leader and statesmen.

If one reads one book on the life of this extrodinary man, this should be it.

Although, I did find I needed a dictionary at times to understand the author. And some may find some of the details a bit too much for thier liking.

Parker does an excellent job as narrator.

Despite the extranious details and PhD vocabulary, I found it gripping and truley enlighting to learn about one MacArthur's that spanned over 50 years as a military leader through both World Wars, Occupied Japan and the Korean War.

Moreover, I am saddened to realize that so many people of today are literally clueless as to what this one man has done for the world in terms of winning the war in the Pacific (along with
Fleet Admiral Nimitz), reconstruction of Japan, and shaping cold war policy in the wake of World
War II and the Korean War

Read or listen to the book to learn for yourself.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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One of the Essential Audibles

Grab this one. Manchester is an incredbile author and does a great warts and all bio of a fascinating subject.
It is slightly longwinded at times, but he captures the essence of the man from childhood through his "fading away".
The narrator didn't stand out like Humphrey Bower or Kevin Pariseau, but he keeps story moving.
Complaints below were that Manchester is too pro-Macarthur. While he may not be as critical of Macarthur, he doesn't put him on a pedestal. The man comes across as brilliant, arrogant, egotistical, yet a true family man.And his handling of the Truman issue was very fair-handed, rapping both for the issues.

I would love to see Manchester's book on Krupp next on audible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • RB
  • Blauvelt, NY, United States
  • 02-08-11

Very informative book on Mac Arthur

I am a history buff and thought I knew alot about Mac Arthur. This book informed me on many things I did not know about Mac Arthur. Including his family back and his thought process on many things he was involved in. I was very impressed with this book and highly recommend it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful