Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur

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Overview

Here, for the first time, is a complete and accurate account of his tumultuous military career and his failed presidential ambitions. Geoffrey Perret, author of groundbreaking works on the history of the U.S. Army and the Army Air Forces in World War II, is the first biographer to have enjoyed unlimited access to MacArthur's official military records, reports, correspondence, and diaries. Perret's biography reveals for the first time the truth about the famous Pershing-MacArthur feud that cost MacArthur the Medal...
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Overview

Here, for the first time, is a complete and accurate account of his tumultuous military career and his failed presidential ambitions. Geoffrey Perret, author of groundbreaking works on the history of the U.S. Army and the Army Air Forces in World War II, is the first biographer to have enjoyed unlimited access to MacArthur's official military records, reports, correspondence, and diaries. Perret's biography reveals for the first time the truth about the famous Pershing-MacArthur feud that cost MacArthur the Medal of Honor in World War I and later led to his banishment to Manila; MacArthur's stormy first marriage, to one of the richest women in the world; how columnist Drew Pearson blackmailed MacArthur over his teenage mistress; MacArthur's role in evicting the Bonus Army from Washington in 1932; why MacArthur's air force was wiped out at Clark Field after receiving the warning from Pearl Harbor; the notorious payment of $500,000 to MacArthur shortly before his daring escape from the Philippines; MacArthur's controversial role in Pacific War strategy; President Truman's secret plan to fire MacArthur two years before the Korean War; MacArthur's successes and failures in the Occupation of Japan; the brilliant landing at Inchon, masterminded by MacArthur; and the crucial Wake Island conference between Truman and MacArthur, and Truman's decision to relieve MacArthur of all his commands.

In the first cradle-to-grave biography of MacArthur in nearly 20 years, Perret reveals new information and offers fresh insights into this landmark figure of American history. From his obsessive interest in becoming the most highly decorated soldier in American history to his disastrous flirtation with presidential politics, MacArthur is revealed, warts and all. of photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Perret (A Country Made by War) interprets Douglas MacArthur here as someone whose temperament was intellectual and who, like U.S. Grant, became a soldier by the constant exercise of willpower. In this context, MacArthur's vanity and authoritarianism reflected an underlying insecurity that remained uncompensated for by the ever-greater successes he achieved until his 1950 dismissal by President Truman. Perret's angst-ridden protagonist is very much a MacArthur for the '90s-neither a warrior nor a charlatan but a person who sought and overcame himself as he did his country's enemies. Perret's narrative of MacArthur's career, though comprehensively researched, is less nuanced than D. Clayton James's still standard three-volume The Years of MacArthur. Yet the present work, well written and provocative, stands as the best single volume on its complex subject. Photos.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Perret (A Country Made by War) interprets Douglas MacArthur here as someone whose temperament was intellectual and who, like U.S. Grant, became a soldier by the constant exercise of willpower. In this context, MacArthur's vanity and authoritarianism reflected an underlying insecurity that remained uncompensated for by the ever-greater successes he achieved until his 1950 dismissal by President Truman. Perret's angst-ridden protagonist is very much a MacArthur for the '90s-neither a warrior nor a charlatan but a person who sought and overcame himself as he did his country's enemies. Perret's narrative of MacArthur's career, though comprehensively researched, is less nuanced than D. Clayton James's still standard three-volume The Years of MacArthur. Yet the present work, well written and provocative, stands as the best single volume on its complex subject. Photos. (May)
Library Journal
In telling the story of MacArthur's rise through two world wars and the Korean War to his dismissal by President Truman, Perret (There's a War To Be Won, LJ 9/15/91) describes an intellectual who became one of America's greatest soldiers only through the constant exercise of will to power. Despite a tendency to whitewash such questionable aspects of MacArthur's career as his handling of the Bonus March and his conduct of the Philippine campaign of 1941, Perret offers a more convincing characterization of MacArthur than the warrior-prince of William Manchester's American Caesar (1978) or the posturing charlatan of Michael Schaller's Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General (LJ 4/15/89). While D. Clayton James's three-volume The Years of MacArthur (Houghton, 1970-85) remains the most comprehensive study of this complex man, Perret's study is now the best one-volume biography. For all libraries.-Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Gilbert Taylor
Perret convincingly brings alive the leather-jacketed, corn-cob smoking, rumple-hatted MacArthur. Even the artful descriptions of MacArthur's studied sartorial casualness serve a biographical purpose, to illustrate the man's self-willed determination to stand out as a hero. The fact that he melodramatically embellished his combat brushes with death is merely another character habit Perret successfully dissects, for beneath the self-dramatization, such events convinced MacArthur that he was man of destiny, protected by God. Perhaps mysticism, rather than an oversize ego, explains things, because some of his actions display an uncanny circularity: in World War I, he was ordered to take a hill or die trying; he survived to give a similar order in New Guinea. His personality and leadership fit the army, for as Perret observes in his opening sentences, MacArthur never lived a minute outside it: he was born on post to one of its famous generals; in his famous 1962 West Point valedictory, he vowed his last conscious thoughts would be "of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps." Perret also improves on preceding biographers in telling of two youthful MacArthur romances. Perret offers a complete view of MacArthur's emotional highs and lows, of his traits both faulty and sterling, of his feats successful or failed. A witty, judicious, unstoppable read--guaranteed.
Kirkus Reviews
WW II historian Perret (Winged Victory, 1993, etc.) has produced a fully comprehensive biography that does evenhanded justice to a great, if flawed, man and his considerable achievements.

Capitalizing on unrestricted access to his subject's papers, the author provides a consistently engrossing account of the general who "was the quintessential twentieth century incarnation of the tragic hero." MacArthur graduated first in his class at West Point in 1903. After earning a chestful of medals for bravery in WW I France, his meteoric career included a four-year stint as superintendent at West Point and service as the Army's chief of staff. He retired in 1937 but was recalled to active duty in mid- 1941. In 1942 MacArthur assumed command of the Allied forces battling Japan in the Southwest Pacific. In 1945, he received Japan's surrender in dramatic ceremonies aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. MacArthur subsequently served as supreme commander of the forces occupying Japan, a post he used to institute enduring economic and sociopolitical reforms. Given command of United Nations forces at the inception of the Korean war, MacArthur landed American troops at Inchon in a daring amphibious assault that led to a to routing of the invading enemy. By marching north through the partitioned country, however, MacArthur drew Communist China into the conflict. In the wake of bitter disagreements with his superiors about American strategy, the aging general was recalled. Perret makes a fine job of evoking not only the qualities that helped MacArthur become a world-class soldier but also the quixotic arrogance and vanity that eventually brought him to grief. He also offers affecting glimpses of a remote commander's surprisingly warm personal life and occasional walks on the wild side.

In brief, then, a balanced, warts-and-all portrait that could renew interest in a justly celebrated but ever elusive warrior.

From Barnes & Noble
Colorful, controversial, and self-promoting, Douglas MacArthur was born at the Little Rock Barracks in 1880 and passed away 84 years later at Walter Reed Hospital--dying as he had lived: in the bosom of the United States Army. In this masterful biography, we learn of MacArthur's stormy first marriage and his tempestuous relationships with John J. Pershing, whose enmity cost MacArthur the Medal of Honor in WWI; with blackmailing journalist Drew Pearson; and with Harry Truman, the scrappy and powerful President who finally succeeded in stripping MacArthur of his command. We also discover the brilliance and folly of MacArthur's military decisions, from his controversial role in the Pacific War strategy to his dazzling success at Inchon and his disastrously off-target predictions at the Wake Island conference. Historian Geoffrey Perret has created in this book a balanced portrait of the dynamic leader whose personality and spirit dominated the American military scene through much of the twentieth century. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765456625
  • Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/23/1996
  • Pages: 663

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