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Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur Paperback – May, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

With the possible exception of George S. Patton, is there a 20th century military figure who fascinates us as does Douglas MacArthur? Hero of Leyte, military genius, youngest brigadier general in World War I, MacArthur had a brilliant mind and an eye for self-promotion. This latest biography, utilizing substantial new research, makes a strong case for MacArthur's leadership abilities and his fierce independence without neglecting MacArthur's shortcomings as a man and as a tactician. Perret concludes that the landing at Inchon, which turned U.S. fortunes around in the Korean War, was one of the boldest and best-executed military invasions in history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media Corporation; 1st edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155850723X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558507234
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
General MacArthur is one of those truly fascinating historical figures, one that truly deserves study by even the casual military history student. He has been labeled an "egomaniac", a "primadonna", a "genius", etc., etc. This book attempts to blend all those summations into one biography, and does so flawlessly.
Mr. Perret's work is by far better than the other noted MacArthur biography, "American Caesar". Mr. Perret is a great deal more balanced and thoughtful in his treatment. His work is also a good deal more enjoyable to read.
The one thing that I think is noteworthy about this book as a whole is that while it does a marvelous job of chronicling MacArthur's life, it is done without casting judgment one way or the other. I noted above that MacArthur draws a wide range of emotions - from egomaniac to genius. Mr. Perret manages to corral all those different facets of MacArthur's personality and present them in such a way that the reader is allowed to see all sides equally and make his own conclusions. That, I believe, is what separates Mr. Perret's work from "American Caesar". "American Caesar" was largely biased towards MacArthur's primadonna persona, and as such, that bio fell on its face.
While Mr. Perret expertly and rightfully spends much of his work covering MacArthur's fight for the Phillipines - a place that occupied all his thoughts during WWII - he is remiss in not adequately covering Korea, specifically, the landing at Inchon. That is Mr. Perret's one shortcoming in this book. The Inchon landing was perhaps one of the greatest master strokes of modern warfare, and definitely of MacArthur's waning days in the Army, yet it is passed over without a lot of detail. I think Mr.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jim Gates on November 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am amazed at the vitriolic diatribe by at least two of the reviewers.
In response to one review review, I would like to make just a few corrections. First, if you want to read an outstanding and well-researched biography of Douglas MacArthur, do not read Manchester's. I take no umbrage with her criticism that Perret's biography is not the definitative work (the author's goal was to write the best one-volume biography of this enigmatic man). However, I don't know who C. Clayton Douglas is or what four-volume biography of MacArthur he wrote. I do consider D. CLAYTON JAMES' three-volume biography to be the definitive study on the general to date.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have met the author and like him. He is a very charming individual, careful historian, and good author. I liked the book, not because I felt it is the best biography of MacArthur but because of the way he tells the story. Consider this example.
D. Clayton James, in volume 2 of The Years of MacArthur, relates the story of what happened when land-based airpower finally arrived in Leyte in October 1944. "Monsoon rains and frequent Japanese air attacks during the week following the capture of Tacloban airfield made it difficult for the engineers to lay the 2500 feet of steel matting for a runway for the waiting Fifth Air Force fighters on Morotai. . . . When the first two squadrons of P-38's landed at the field on October 27, MacArthur and Kenney were waiting to greet the pilots as they stepped down from their fighters." (P. 568)
Now compare James's passage to Perret's:
"Two days later MacArthur was having lunch when he heard a familiar sound, the engines of P-38s being throttled back. Kenney had ordered half the 49th Fighter Group to fly up from Morotai. . . .
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Belenky ( on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Having admired General MacArthur when I was a boy and kept a scrapbook of clippings on his doings during the Korean War, having read "American Ceasar" by William Manchester, and having been more recently disenchanted with MacArthur from other readings, I found Perret's book wonderful. On the surface, it explains certain things that have remained a mystery to me, e.g., why MacArthur left his airforce on the ground after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It turns out he had ordered the planes redeployed and the orders were not carried out for reasons that Perret explains. At a deeper level, it provides a satisfying picture of MacArthur that avoids the Scylla of criticism and the Charybdis of adulation. Perret comes across as balanced, objective, and factual. And, the reader is left with the feeling that the facts have been presented and he can decide for himself. Finally, Perret seems comfortable exploring the darker aspects of MacArthur's personality. For example, in describing MacArthur's treatment of General Robert Eichelberger, Perret writes "... for MacArthur broke into brave, genial Bob Eichelberger's soul and found the cracks."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on February 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
As several reviewers pointed out, this book has a few flaws. I do feel some of the criticisms hurled are a bit off the mark. This is a one volume book. There is absolutly no way a completely comprehensive sudy of this man could be accomplished in such a short space. For a one volume work though, it is very, very good. Yes, you can disagree as to the actual greatness of the man, as reflected in the various stages of his life, but the author has at least presented to us a starting point. This work, along with others, gives us a good picture of Macarthur the soldier and the man. Recommend you read this one.
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