80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2014
I have read several books concerning General Douglas MacArthur. A few have been scathing, giving him hell for just about everything he did (the author Stanley Weintraub does not think much of him) some are admiring (William Manchester comes to mind). Mark Perry, in this excellent book, does not fall under either category. He looks at the record and the relationship between MacArthur and President Franklin Roosevelt and Army Chief of Staff George Marshal and calls the shots as he sees them. He obviously believes that all three of these men were good men and talented men. They needed each other during hard times. They helped form each others' characters and ideas. In the end, MacArthur was brilliant as a military commander, perhaps even a genius, all the while earning the anger of other people with his arrogance and near paranoia that others were against him. Perry has done a great job of separating the faults of the man from his sometimes astonishing successes. We are lucky that he took the time to do so and then write this book.
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
The author was one of only three historians who interviewed General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), and he was fortunate to do so, for this was only three years before MacArthur's death at the age of 84 in Washington, D.C. This authoritative biography relates exceedingly well the life and times of perhaps the greatest and most fascinating and enigmatic of all American generals of the 20th century.
MacArthur was raised in an old military family of the old West, fought the Mexicans during the occupation of Veracruz in 1914, served in the two World Wars, and had a prominent role in the Korean Conflict (1950-1951) -- serving officially in the U.S Army from 1904-1964. His accomplishments were outstanding and copious, but Mark Perry, the author of this book describes them well, succeeding remarkably well in relating why the General continues to fascinate us.
MacArthur was the only American to rise to become Field Marshall of the Philippine Army, earning also the Medal of Honor for his military service in the Philippine Campaigns, a decoration and badge of honor also awarded to his father, whom MacArthur revered. General MacArthur strove to emulate his father whose early achievements MacArthur feared he could never attain. In fact, he surpassed his admired and accomplished father, MacArthur being only one of 5 Americans to rise to the rank of General of the Army (5 star general).
The Big Chief (one of MacArthur's nicknames) was to become a legendary figure for his military strategies, tactics, and prominent role in the wars in the Pacific theater, fighting not only the Japanese during World War II, but also the North Koreans and Red Chinese in the ensuing cold war, a drawn out conflict that was not so cold for MacArthur.
The conflict against the communist Chinese was to be the downfall for MacArthur, not for being decisively defeated by the enemy in the field, but for inciting the wrath of his Commander-in-Chief, the American President Harry Truman, who feared Mac Arthur's actions could precipitate World War III. The sharp conflict between General and President brought not only the downfall of MacArthur but also of Truman, whose approval rating dropped to 22% after relieving MacArthur of his command, consequently refusing to run for re-election. In the election that followed in 1952, General Dwight D. Eisenhower won the Presidency serving two terms.
The book, though, is not a hagiography of MacArthur. In fact the author tries hard to point out flaws in the old general, who is shown "proud and egotistical," deemed "his own worst enemy," etc. Ironically, as events played out, MacArthur proved the truism that even paranoids have enemies, and after his recall by Truman, like the old soldier of his ballad, his military career ended; he did not enter politics; he just faded away into the pages of history -- and the mist of legend. Nevertheless, this is enthralling history and biography, which I recommend to all who enjoy American history, as well as to those who enjoy reading about great American heroes.
The reviewer, Dr. Miguel Faria, is a medical historian and the author of Cuba in Revolution -- Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). He has written numerous articles on political history and communism, including "Stalin's Mysterious Death" (2011); "Stalin, Communists and Fatal Statistics" (2011); "the Political Spectrum -- From the Extreme Right and Anarchism to the Extreme Left and Communism" (2011); etc. His articles are posted at his website drmiguelfariadotcom & haciendapublishingdotcom
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2014
This book covers almost exclusively MacArthur's experiences in the Southwest Pacific during WWII. His egotism is on almost every page, but the book covers inter-service rivalies to an extent that I never knew before. I suggest this as required reading for thos interested in the Pacific theater during WWII.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
This is Mark Perry's ninth book, and they just keep getting better. While billed as a revisionist history by some reviewers, Perry has proven his excellence as a solid reporter, superb historian and dazzling writer. I have rarely seen such a broad selection of fine reviews -- from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post and Boston Globe. Better yet, The Most Dangerous Man In America is a page turner. I couldn't put it down.
21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2014
Of the numerous books about Douglas MacArthur this book is unique in that it examines his life and career through the lens of being Army chief of staff in 1932 through the surrender of Japan in 1945 with a focus on his complex and challenging relationship with Franklin Roosevelt. MacArthur was vain and egoistical but also a brilliant strategist who, according to the author, led the most successful combined arms operations military history while in the Southwest Pacific in World War II. His rivalry with the Navy, his relationship with Australia, and how he was used by FDR to advance the New Deal make for fascinating reading as was the fact MacArthur could select a "royal court" for his staff yet chose excellent combat commanders for his land, air, and sea operations. An unanswered question for me was how MacArthur's experience with the Civilian Conservation Corps set the stage for his extraordinary leadership in remaking Japan following World War II.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
Mark Perry is able to lead one to understanding of the character of a man, famous for his conquests and at times infamous for his own failing. I found it most educational as a book that describes the thinking of men who are destined to lead others to war and during war.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2014
I've read a lot about the history of World War II and almost every book leaves you with a VERY low opinion of Mac. This book leaves you with a low opinion of Roosevelt, Truman and Marshall, especially Marshall. The title of this book would leave uou with a different anticipation. It only reflects a quote from Roosevelt.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2015
The title is misleading. It reflects Roosevelt's fear of a presidential rival in an upcoming election. MacArthur came out of WWII a great hero. At the time of the Korean Conflict, most Americans took his side when Truman fired him as commanding general. But over time Truman's reputation has been rehabilitated and MacArthur's star has dimmed. Much of this was due to the published memoirs of his colleagues, Eisenhower included, showing his arrogant and petty side. Author Perry does not gloss over these defects, yet manages to burnish his reputation. MacArthur was in an impossible position when the Japanese invaded the Philippines. There was no possibility of relief. His escape to Australia was inglorious. In his efforts to keep his promise to return, MacArthur had to fight not only the enemy, but Roosevelt and the Europe First policy, the Navy and their central Pacific campaign, as well as the the program equip Russia. All these prevented the general from getting needed supplies. These are clearly detailed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2014
This book was a great disappointment--hardly being a biography, as suggested by the title. It begins with MacArthur's as Chair of the JCS and ends with the surrender of the Japanese on the USS Missouri, omitting his upbringing on one end and his time as "shogun" in post-war Japan and his command of US forces in Korea on the other end. It also omits his disagreement with Truman which led to his dismissal. It is mainly a description of WWII Pacific theater in terms of personal and professional competition among the personalities.
This book could have benefitted from the services of a good editor; one ought not have to read a paragraph 2 or 3 times to figure out the antecedents for the pronouns. The maps were insufficient; if the author wants the reader to be paying attention, then give them the tools to follow the details.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2015
Perry never makes his case that MacArthur is "The Most Dangerous Man in America". It is from a quote of FDR's at a time that MacArthur was a perceived political threat before WWII but makes for an attractive marketing title. The book is well written and is a nice history of the War in the Pacific from the US Army's point of view.. As opposed to the Navy's point of view. It is also a small period of a long distinguished life.The tone of the book reflects the author's less than neutral position of MacArthur by favoring FDR's decisions and noting MacArthur's strategic and personality failings.. Whereas, William Manchester's "American Caeser" is much more pro-MacArthur and much more detailed. The clash between the Navy and the Army is nicely presented.Still, a good read and would recommend it.