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The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur Hardcover – April 1, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fifty years after his death, Douglas MacArthur remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. His admirers continue to cite his battlefield courage, his military acumen and daring, and his wisdom in administering the occupation of Japan. His detractors cite his egotism, his contempt for his civilian and military superiors, and his recklessness. All of these characteristics and more are on display in this excellent but limited examination of MacArthur’s life in the critical years preceding and including WWII. Perry, who in previous works has described the “partnership” between historical figures, views the odd but successful relationship between MacArthur and President Roosevelt. Roosevelt didn’t like or trust MacArthur, and he was acutely aware that MacArthur’s brutal dispersal of the Bonus Marchers was a political disaster for his predecessor, Hoover. Yet, he and his advisors effectively “tamed” MacArthur and harnessed his military talents. Conversely, MacArthur distrusted Roosevelt’s politics and favoritism toward the U.S. Navy, but he learned to restrain his go-it-alone instincts and won Roosevelt’s respect, if not affection. This is an informative and easily digestible rendering of their uneasy but effective cooperation in winning the war in the Pacific. --Jay Freeman


Boston Globe Best Books of 2014

New York Times Book Review
“[A] well-written, insightful portrait of a commander whose occasional military genius vied with an overweening ego that alienated his superiors in Washington and led to his eventual downfall.”

Wall Street Journal
“Mark Perry's enjoyable The Most Dangerous Man in America amply captures the general's ‘proud and egotistical’ streak."

Washington Post
“[An] engrossing book on the great, though greatly flawed, general… fans of military history and general readers will have much to enjoy and to ponder: The author offers a vivid and convincing recounting of MacArthur’s tremendous skill as a pioneer of air-land-sea battle in the Pacific, along with ample evidence that ‘proud and egotistical’ MacArthur ‘was his own worst enemy.’”

Boston Globe
“[A] dazzling biography…[a] deft portrayal centered mainly on MacArthur’s World War II years.”

Foreign Affairs
“Without ever denying MacArthur’s flaws and mistakes, Perry revives the general’s reputation by carefully and positively appraising his role in some of the war’s key moments.”

Dallas Morning News
“Perry sets out to demonstrate how FDR ‘tamed and used’ the general as the principal tool that would defeat the Japanese. Perry accomplishes this efficiently through an entertaining narrative that will satisfy MacArthur’s defenders…”

Christian Science Monitor
“A perceptive, authoritative biography of the legendary general.”

Weekly Standard
“Perry has written an engaging and fresh story about Douglas MacArthur that also sheds light on some of the lesser-known figures who supported him…The Most Dangerous Man in America will introduce Douglas MacArthur to a new audience and compel readers already familiar with him to consider this dynamic personality in a different light.”

Washington Independent Review of Books
“A riveting and accessible biography of General Douglas MacArthur...simultaneously providing insights into his behavior and filling in needed and appropriate biographical nuggets in order to illuminate his bigger than life persona.... A noble portrait of an often misunderstood and complex 20th-century American.... Without diminishing the humanity of the book’s central protagonist, Perry captures the conundrum of being a great man and presents a story that is full of its own kind of romance and adventure.”

Shelf Awareness for Readers
“A compelling, succinct account of a deeply flawed but brilliant leader, a man seemingly created for the circumstances through which he lived… With fluid prose and fascinating personalities, The Most Dangerous Man in America should appeal to military history and biography buffs alike.”

San Antonio Express-News
The Most Dangerous Man in America is Perry’s tour de force as a biographer. With scholarly precision and a desire to present MacArthur as a man, minus the myth and the legend, he gives us a detailed look into our nation's top soldier in the east during World War II. Despite MacArthur’s flaws, and they don’t go unrecognized here, his brilliance when it came time to enact the first combined-arms operation in the Pacific is captivatingly told for all to understand.”

Roanoke Times
“Perry’s skill as a storyteller brings the reader into the action of MacArthur and the officers with whom he interacted, and those who were relegated to talking with MacArthur’s adjutant, Richard Sutherland…[The Most Dangerous Man in America] is certain to have an impact on those who read it, and they will come away with a better understanding of the challenges of the Pacific campaign.”

ARMY Magazine
“In The Most Dangerous Man in America, Perry has made a monumental contribution to our understanding of two extraordinary leaders…who shaped a strategy for the defeat of Japan.”

American History Magazine
“Provocative and stimulating.”

Buffalo News
“Perry undertakes a thorough re-examination of MacArthur’s role in World War II, with the goal of bursting the myth promoted by Roosevelt’s inner circle that this dangerous, uncontainable commander, and possible Republican foe, deserves the judgment accorded him by modern historians…In making his case, Perry dazzles in his telling of the Pacific narrative through the eyes of his general…That is Perry’s story and he tells it superbly: The political infighting, the inter-service rivalry, the president who favored the Navy, all overlaid on the internal bickering within MacArthur’s talented and high-powered staff.”

Military Heritage
“Easy to follow prose and insightful judgments of the decisions not only of MacArthur, but his opponents and fellow Allies.”

History Net
“Well written and researched, The Most Dangerous Man in America is bound to foment renewed debate.”

“An excellent…limited examination of MacArthur’s life in the critical years preceding and including WWII....informative and easily digestible.”

“A study of quiet authority… A majestic overview with an engaging sense of the nuance of character.”

Library Journal
“A gripping read, this book will be valuable to the novice and specialist alike.”

Publishers Weekly
“[Perry] provocatively reinterprets the volatile relationship between F.D.R. and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.”

Lewis Sorley, author of A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam
“Second only to his monumental self-regard was Douglas MacArthur’s ability to polarize those who encountered him. Thus Mark Perry’s achievement in this even-handed and insightful assessment is all the more remarkable. Concentrating on the events of World War II, he reveals in telling detail the strengths and weaknesses of this most controversial military figure.”

David Crist, Senior Historian, Joint Chiefs of Staff
“The book is extremely well-written and the story simply enthralling. It pulls you in from the first page. Mark Perry has written balanced, accurate book on one of the most important men in American military history. If there is one biography to read about Douglas MacArthur, this is it.”

John Prados, Author of Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun
“Mark Perry intrigues with his inquiry into Douglas MacArthur, one of the most fascinating, frustrating characters in modern U.S. history. In The Most Dangerous Man in America, Perry not only illuminates General MacArthur’s actions and motives in the Depression-era U.S. Army and World War II, he shows MacArthur’s human side, sheds new light on the relationship between him and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, reframes FDR’s wartime leadership, and gives deserved attention to such comrades as Robert L. Eichelberger. Don’t miss this fresh vision of the general who returned to the Philippines.”

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
“A pleasure to read, Mark Perry's The Most Dangerous Man in America is a revealing and topical biography on arguably the greatest general in American history. It shows MacArthur at the pinnacle of greatness and the nadir of vanity—usually simultaneously—during the most critical periods of the Japanese campaign in WWII. Replete with new information, insights and perspective on this most enigmatic of American generals, MacArthur's legend is thoroughly but respectfully dissembled to show him, and the generation of political and military leaders that won WWII, as petty, vindictive but brilliant military strategists and ruthless political infighters. Mark Perry's well-balanced book stands far above the crowded collection of official military histories, biographies, hagiographies and analyses of General Douglas MacArthur and should be mandatory reading for those that aspire to command—that most humbling of military experiences—at any level.”

Eliot Cohen, author of Supreme Command and Conquered Into Liberty
"MacArthur's reputation has been in eclipse for some time. Mark Perry restores much of it in this vivid and compelling account of his career before Korea. Without scanting MacArthur's faults and failures, he makes a convincing case that during World War II he was not merely an able but at times a brilliant commander."

David Kaiser, author of The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
"A balanced and wide-ranging portrait of one of the United States' most brilliant and controversial military leaders, reminding us that MacArthur had great strengths as well as weaknesses."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1St Edition edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465013287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013289
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My ancestor, Frazier Hunt, was included in this book, as well as his dear friend, Brig. Gen. Bonner Fellers ("Uncle Bonner"). As someone who is pursuing his PhD at Penn State with an emphasis on MacArthur and Fellers, I must say that I LOVED this book. This author gets it. He synthesized all the current history and wrote a piece that is understandable for not only the general public, but also scholars and/or hard-core Southwest Pacific Area schelps like me. There were only a few factual errors...and they were minor. e.g., the author mistakenly wrote that the 28th Infantry Division was sent to the SWPA. It wasn't. I also take some umbrage with the author's description of Uncle Bonner and my great-grand father, Frazier Hunt, but, by in large, he was dead on. The reader will esp. enjoy the interesting relationship that MacArthur had with Roosevelt and the other sharks in the shark tank (sorry, Virginia, but most in the high command hated each other), the difficult decisions that had to be made, and humanized MacArthur...something my great-grandfather passed down to my grandfather, mother, and uncles. Thank you, Mr. Perry.
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