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Supreme Commander: MacArthur's Triumph in Japan

Supreme Commander: MacArthur's Triumph in Japan

3.8 4
by Seymour, Jr. Morris Jr.

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Seymour Morris Jr. combines political history, military biography, and business management to tell the story of General Douglas MacArthur's tremendous success in rebuilding Japan after World War II in Supreme Commander, a lively, in-depth work of biographical history complementary to The Generals, The Storm of War, and


Seymour Morris Jr. combines political history, military biography, and business management to tell the story of General Douglas MacArthur's tremendous success in rebuilding Japan after World War II in Supreme Commander, a lively, in-depth work of biographical history complementary to The Generals, The Storm of War, and Truman.

He is the most decorated general in American history—and the only five five-star general to receive the Medal of Honor. Yet Douglas MacArthur's greatest victory was not in war but in peace.

As the uniquely titled Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, he was charged with transforming a defeated, militarist empire into a beacon of peace and democracy—“the greatest gamble ever attempted,” he called it. A career military man, MacArthur had no experience in politics, diplomacy, or economics. A vain, reclusive, and self-centered man, his many enemies in Washington thought he was a flaming peacock, and few, including President Harry Truman's closest advisors, gave him a chance of succeeding. Yet MacArthur did so brilliantly, defying timetables and expectations.

Supreme Commander tells for the first time, the story of how MacArthur's leadership achieved a nation-building success that had never been attempted before—and never replicated since. Seymour Morris Jr. reveals this flawed man at his best who treated a defeated enemy with respect; who made informed and thoughtful decisions yet could be brash and stubborn when necessary, and who lead the Occupation with intelligence, class, and compassion.

Morris analyzes MacArthur's key tactical choices, explaining how each contributed to his accomplishment, and paints a detailed picture of a true patriot—a man of conviction who proved to be an outstanding and effective leader in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) continues to intrigue historians. While Mark Perry (see review below) traces MacArthur's career from 1932 through World War II, Morris (American History Revised), a businessman-turned- historian, looks extensively at secondary sources to examine the general's tenure as supreme commander for the allied powers in Japan from 1945 to 1951. Morris accessibly shows how MacArthur managed to implement a number of reforms in postwar Japan, including a new constitution, land reform, and giving women the right to vote, while at the same time encouraging Japan to disarm peacefully and formally renounce any future war plans. By keeping in place the highly respected Emperor Hirohito, he was able to effect a relatively smooth transition to peacetime, creating an economic environment that would make Japan a powerful force by the end of the century. Morris shows that while MacArthur has been rightfully honored for his leadership of American forces in the Pacific during World War II, his performance in leading Japan from war to peace should be considered one of his finest accomplishments and one from which we could have learned more. VERDICT A well-crafted history of an underappreciated aspect of MacArthur's career. Recommended for students of the postwar era.—Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
The New York Times Book Review - Lynne Olson
…the story [Morris] tells is a fascinating one.
Publishers Weekly
Businessman and historian Morris (American History Revised) argues that success of the occupation of Japan after WWII was primarily due to the enlightened leadership of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the only American to ever receive the “majestic title” of “Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.” Mostly derived from first person accounts and secondary sources, Morris examines all of the major achievements of the occupation including MacArthur’s triumphant arrival in Tokyo, his first meeting with the Emperor, the forging of the Japanese Constitution, the Japanese war crimes trials, and the shift in U.S. policy toward economic revival. He analyzes events from the perspective of MacArthur’s decision making and concludes that MacArthur’s actions were most impressive for their effectiveness, stating that “for his performance in Japan, Douglas MacArthur rates a seat of honor.” The book also addresses MacArthur’s personal flaws, most notably his incredible ego and the general disdain he held for—and which was reciprocated by—most of his contemporaries. The conclusion reached is that MacArthur’s successes are that much more incredible because they were accomplished despite his abrasive personality. Morris has produced not just a good general history of the occupation, but a powerful argument that MacArthur continues to warrant his place as one of the great generals in American history. (Apr.)
Evan Thomas
“MacArthur was more right than wrong as the post-war ruler of occupied Japan. A very readable and instructional treatment of a misunderstood figure. ”
James Bamford
“Morris tells in dramatic fashion how this ultimate warrior, almost overnight, became the ultimate peacemaker, turning a devastated, militarized Japan into a functioning democracy in five years without firing a shot.”
John Steele Gordon
“Seymour Morris Jr. has done General MacArthur’s reputation a great favor by spotlighting his now nearly forgotten service as the American viceroy in postwar Japan. With entertaining prose and good research, he shows us how MacArthur brilliantly midwifed devastated Japan’s rebirth as a modern, democratic state.”
Gautam Mukunda
“A fascinating study of the greatest success of Douglas MacArthur, one of the most consequential and controversial Americans of the twentieth century.”
The New York Times Book Review
“The story he tells is a fascinating one”
Thomas Fleming
“This remarkable book tells us how America — and a great general — revealed to the world that peace can be waged as triumphantly — and far more creatively — than war.”
Kirkus Reviews
An unabashedly admiring reappraisal of Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) as supreme protector of a great fallen nation at the close of World War II. Publishing around the same time as Mark Perry's The Most Dangerous Man in America (2014), the pursuit of the many lives of the five-star general continues in this enthusiastic breakdown of MacArthur's wildly successful five-year occupation of defeated Japan, a model to be followed and studied. Author and entrepreneur Morris (American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts that Never Made It into the Textbooks, 2010) believes the record regarding MacArthur's administrative coup in helping Japan recover needs elucidation, from his initial decision to arrive in Japan unarmed for the surrender ceremony of Sept. 2, 1945, to his insistence on sparing Emperor Hirohito to his radical push for emancipating Japanese women. Above all, MacArthur was a keen student of history and modeled his magnanimity toward the vanquished Japanese on Gen. Ulysses Grant's honorable treatment of Gen. Robert E. Lee, among other examples, hoping to gain trust in his new charges rather than instill fear and provoke alarm from reactionary elements. Hence his highly controversial decision to keep the emperor in power, although he was stripped of his godlike status: MacArthur recognized that the emperor could help "bring about a spiritual transformation of the Japanese people." Moving swiftly as supreme commander on the orders of President Harry S. Truman yet with powers so vast that he was able to operate over the heads of the War Department, the general brought food to the starving people, neutralized the Japanese military, repatriated millions of Japanese troops and civilians, instituted land reform, kept the Russians at bay and implemented the "Nuremberg of the East" trials. Most astonishing was how MacArthur's wily team managed to rewrite the Japanese Constitution—with codification of more sweeping rights for women than in any other country except Russia. A gung-ho, breezily entertaining study for lay readers.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Seymour Morris Jr. is the author of American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts That Never Made It into the Textbooks. He is also an international business entrepreneur and the former head of corporate communications for the world's largest management consulting firm. A resident of New York City, he holds an A.B. and M.B.A. from Harvard University.

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Supreme Commander: MacArthur's Triumph in Japan 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
MemphisRazz More than 1 year ago
Given his role on the world stage for so many years, I often thought that the one aspect of his career that had never been covered was MacArthur's role in the occupation of Japan. I was amazed to read that he felt that any occupation that lasted over five years would fail, he easily absorbed- and followed the advice- of two junior officers, become something of an expert in public health and wrote into the Japanese constitution that women would receive equal pay for equal work. As Morris wrote, had MacArthur departed or died after the success of the Inchon landing, he would be included in the highest ranks of American General Officers. Had he not dismissed the Japanese as a race in his post-recall Senate testimony he would still be revered in Japan. Unfortunately for MacArthur, while he often reached the greatest heights, he also reached the greatest lows as well. What this book does articulate very well is MacArthur's role that was very well executed and until now almost ignored.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
atcross More than 1 year ago
The information in this book is a gold-mine. Runs counter to politically correct history, wealth of detail and one audiobook I listened to in a single day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who is this author and did he self-publish? All you have to do is read to page xv in the Preface to know that the author knows little about WWII, as that's where he credits Jimmy Doolittle with Curtis LeMay's role in the war. Obviously, it was good that no publisher proofread the book because this goof, this mind-boggling dufus bozo mistake tells you up front how little the author knows. Just another tale of the war by a very amateur member of the fan club -- a member that Mac himself would have scorned. (my guess: the author picked up this "story" in the "dog & pony" presentations that the expensive consultants do in trying to relate successful historical figures, especially successful generals. to their consulting projects, implicitly comparing the ceo client with the general. Takes more than such schmoozing to write real history.)