MacArthur: A Biography

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Douglas MacArthur is best remembered for his adaptability that hoisted him to his greatest accomplishments. Adaptability now reigns as the most indispensable trait for high military leadership in an era of technological leaps that guarantee the nature of war will radically change during the span of an ordinary career. No American figure better exemplifies this trait than the man who was commissioned before the Wright Brothers' first flight but became a keen exponent of an entirely new dimension in warfare. He was...
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MacArthur: A Biography

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Douglas MacArthur is best remembered for his adaptability that hoisted him to his greatest accomplishments. Adaptability now reigns as the most indispensable trait for high military leadership in an era of technological leaps that guarantee the nature of war will radically change during the span of an ordinary career. No American figure better exemplifies this trait than the man who was commissioned before the Wright Brothers' first flight but became a keen exponent of an entirely new dimension in warfare. He was also in charge of the U.S. occupation of Japan, the most successful occupation in history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A vivid, compelling portrait of our most enigmatic battlefield commander. Richard B. Frank strips away both myth and malarkey to reveal both Douglas MacArthur the general and Douglas MacArthur the man."—Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer prize-winning author of An Army at Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942-1943


"Richard B. Frank's incisive biography of General Douglas MacArthur offers not only a great read, but a timely and useful study both of the dilemmas of civil-military relations and the challenges facing American military leaders thrust onto a global stage.  The writing is always clear, the history always accurate, and the analysis consistently stimulating.  For all his faults, MacArthur was indisputably a great man among great contemporaries—this book will make the reader ponder the disappearance of such greatness among our nation's leaders, military or civilian."—Ralph Peters, author of New Glory and Never Quit The Fight


"Douglas MacArthur was either the greatest American military commander of the 20th century—or a dangerous meglomaniac. In this shrewd, fair, but unblinking biogaphy, MacArthur is both- at once-brilliant and deeply flawed and, in Frank's skillful telling, an endlessly fascinating character. Rich Frank has long been a premier historian of the Pacific War. Now he has shown that he is first rank biographer as well."—Evan Thomas, Newsweek editor-at-large and author of Sea of Thunder


"A classic example of good things in small packages, this addition to the Great Generals Series owes much to its author, an expert on the Pacific War and a particularly accomplished writer. Those attainments allow him to do a remarkable degree of justice to his subject, one of the most controversial leaders in American history. From early on, MacArthur, scion of a military family, exhibited great talents and a colossal ego that made it difficult for him to cooperate with either his fellow commanders or his civilian superiors, leading one of the latter, President Truman, to terminate his career during the Korean War. MacArthur's insensitivity to politics didn’t, however, prevent him from practicing a high level of statesmanship as military governor of occupied Japan. Frank's portrait of him is that of a man clearly related to the little girl who had a little curl in the middle of her forehead. When he was good, he was indispensable; when he was bad, he made colleagues and superiors think of firing squads. A good addition for any and all twentieth-century American history collections."—Booklist


"Frank (Guardalcanal) presents the reader with a fair assessment of both the man and the soldier, covering the failures and triumphs in an assured and dispassionate tone."—David Lee Poremba, Haines City P.L., FL


"His own unique take on this historic figure."—NewsMax


"No general in American uniform during World War II was more controversial or more idolized than Douglas MacArthur.  It takes a rigidly objective historian and painstakingly careful research to produce a biography of him that is both balanced and accurate.  Richard B. Frank has succeeded brilliantly."—Brian John Murphy, America in WWII


"America is hard on its politicians and generals.  Whereas writers and composers are remembered for their creative peaks, and their lesser works are forgiven, politicians are often remembered for their failures, generals for their blunders. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was long an exception to this rule, for he spent a lifetime burnishing his image and training a staff to do likewise.  But history is catching up, and we now have a readable and objective biography by respected World War II historian Richard B. Frank, who is immune to the general's considerable charisma."—John M. Taylor, The Washington Times 


Kirkus Reviews
In-depth analysis of the enduring paradox of America's most revered five-star insubordinate-an installment of the Great Generals biographical series for which retired General Wesley K. Clark is nominal editor and provides a foreword. Frank (Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, 1999, etc.), who has written commendably on World War II in the Pacific, here offers an intensive dissection of Douglas MacArthur's decisions, good and bad, both as a field general and administrator of the U.S. occupation of Japan. A review of MacArthur's role as the latter is particularly timely given the current failures in Iraq of pacification, democratization and reconstruction-not to force a direct parallel-over which he then successfully presided (although Frank stresses that the overall plan was wholly the Truman administration's). That this is specifically a military biography is illustrated by the relatively sparse treatment-a mere page-given to one of the biggest risks MacArthur ever took: Summoned in 1930 as the Army's new Chief of Staff, he brought from the Philippines a 16-year-old girl named Isabel (he was then 50) and stashed her in Washington for some months until she grew restless and, discovered by a MacArthur media nemesis, columnist Drew Pearson, was paid off to disappear. Frank is, however, candid at length in recounting some of the general's consistent failings, such as blatant self-promotion in communiques (most Americans believed he was outnumbered by Japanese forces in major actions, which was not the case), plus deflecting blame on subordinates while taking credit for their achievements. His operational brilliance, including the "leapfrogging" strategy in the Western Pacific,which undoubtedly shortened the war, is also well covered. Frank also enumerates cases where MacArthur's insubordinations were, in retrospect, essentially the right move. Admirably punctures the mythology and goes to the wall with an irresolvably complex personality. Agent: Robert Gottlieb/Trident Media Group
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230613973
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Series: Great Generals Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 519,995
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD B. FRANK is the author of Guadalcanal and Downfall and winner of the General William Greene Award and the Harry S. Truman Book Award. He lives in Annandale, Virginia.

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Table of Contents


Chapter One: Beginnings (MacArthur's family background and career to 1930.)

• Chapter Two: Chief of Staff (MacArthur's tour as Chief of Staff, the Bonus March and the New Deal.)

• Chapter Three: From the Center to the Fringe (MacArthur's role in developing Philippine armed forces and his recall to active duty in July 1941.)

• Chapter Four: Catastrophe (MacArthur's defeat in the first Philippine campaign and his escape to Australia.)

• Chapter Five: An Expensive Education (MacArthur's appointment as one of two Pacific commanders and his ill managed first campaign on New Guinea.)

• Chapter Six: Parameters (MacArthur's challenges as a theater commander, his achievement in logistics and allied relations, his subordinate commanders and Pacific strategy.)

• Chapter Seven: Apprenticeship (MacArthur's campaigns on New Guinea from February 1943 to January 1944 and his gradual mastery of air power, amphibious operations and the bypass strategy.)

• Chapter Eight: Breakthrough (The stroke of luck that permitted a dramatic advance in code breaking leading to MacArthur's most impressive campaign in World War II; meanwhile his misadventure in presidential politics.)

• Chapter Nine: Return and Redemption (MacArthur's campaigns in the Philippines from October 1944 to March 1945.)

• Chapter Ten: Regression, Invasion and Surrender (MacArthur's wholesale abandonment of the bypass strategy, his role in the planned invasion of Japan, his brilliant conduct of the surrender ceremony and an examination of his Pacific campaign casualty record.)

• Chapter Eleven: Shogun in Khakai (MacArthur as ruler of Japan, his key contribution in staving off a famine and public health disaster; his key roles in political reform.)

• Chapter Twelve: Triumphs and Challenges (MacArthur's role in economic and cultural reform and a review of the less successful aspects of the occupation.)

• Chapter Thirteen: Korea Triumph (MacArthur's ill advised appointment as UN commander and his brilliant landing at Inchon.)

• Chapter Fourteen: Korea Disaster (The shared responsibility for the disaster at the beginning of Chinese intervention and MacArthur's well deserved dismissal by Truman.)

• Chapter Fifteen: The Sum of the Man (The lessons of MacArthur's life as a military commander, educator and administrator; the failure of his superiors to enforce subordination.)

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