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American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964
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American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  5,628 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Inspiring, outrageous... A thundering paradox of a man.Douglas MacArthur, one of only five men in history to have achieved the rank of General of the United States Army. He served in World Wars I, II, and the Korean War, and is famous for stating that "in war, there is no substitute for victory."AMERICAN CAESAR exaines the exemplary army career, the stunning successes (and ...more
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Published May 12th 2008 by Back Bay Books (first published September 30th 1978)
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My, oh my, what a book, what a man!

Most fascinating is perhaps his years as proconsul in Japan, and how he was able to be the gentle, wise ruler of which Lao Tse and Plato spoke (Republic), and in fact he was an avid reader of Plato's Republic. His magnanimity and wisdom in that role were a historical achievement for which there are few if any precedents.

The infamous flap in Korea which eventually led to his unceremonious dismissal is in and of itself a multi-faceted situation, which will not ea
This may well be the best biography ever written. Douglas MacArthur, the famous general of the Pacific in WWII, The man who lost the American air fleet to Japanese bombs, and lost thousands of men in the Phillipines, who returned victorious, and became the ruler of an area larger than that controlled by the Romans at the height of the empire is a complex, tragic, and frustrating subject. Sometimes he is a military genius, sometimes he is lucky, and sometimes he is a pompus ass in the extreme. He ...more
Feb 19, 2009 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Military History, WWII, U.S. History
This book has been sitting on my shelf for years waiting to be re-read; its pages discolored, its cover cracked but its story as fresh in 2009 as it was in 1984.

Undoubtedly, the greatest military mind in the history of the United States, Douglas MacArthur can only be understood by the standards of the late 19th Century. He was a chivalric warrior who could not begin to comprehend the war on terror and the other limited wars of today. In his mind, you fought a war to conquer the enemy, completely
In the paperback edition of "American Caesar" that I read, one of the blurbs that's quoted falls back on the old cliche that this biography reads like a novel.
It's a tempting description for such a gripping book, but William Manchester's biography in reality is nothing like a novel. For one thing, no novelist would dare invent such an enigmatic character as Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
At one point, Manchester describes MacArthur walking onto a Pacific island during World War II, just behind the firs
R.M.F Brown
"Caesar was and is not loveable."

With that, William Manchester launches into a rip-roaring biography of America's greatest and most complex soldier. A warrior who hated war, a man of great charisma and generous spirit, who could be equally as vain and petty.

MacArthur was an enigma. Fearless, always willing to led from the front, and yet, fearful of his mother's wrath.

I could go on, but what Manchester has done, has given us one of the greatest historical biographies, equal to Kershaw's biograp
Mary JL
Nov 29, 2008 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any fan of a good biography or one interested in history
This is of course a biography of General Douglas MacArthur. It contains a lot of information and I really like the fact that it is well balanced. Manchester clearly outlines MacArthur's strengths and weaknesses.

One really good point he made is when he describes MacArthur's role in Occupied Japan. MacArthur was an incredibly good choice to be in charge of the occupation. He was somewhat aloof and not the usual type of handshaking, smiling politician. That worked especially well with Japanese of t
Excellent writing and a rich subject. Gives so much understanding to American and Asian history. His contributions to the fortunes of Japan, Australia, Philippines, and Korea continue to be felt today.

The section on Korea corrected a lot of false impressions I had about that war (I did not fully appreciate the lack of leadership coming from Washington and I never really understood how problematic MacArthur was being towards the end). It also set off a lot of what-if daydreaming on my part. What
Oh wow...what a talented writer, and what a fantastic subject! Mr. Manchester writes a thoroughly in-depth analysis of a complex man. I always appreciate a well-researched book, and Manchester's style is completely readable.

As for the General...I must say I did not know much about him. I held the Bonus March against him, which was an excuse for not reading the book. This book reversed my opinion and I feel nothing but respect for him...a true warrior and humanitarian. His courage astounded me.
I did it! Longest book I have read since I joined Goodreads. Very fascinating biography of one of the most interesting characters in American military history. Though somewhat dated (written in 1978), it benefitted from the author being able to interview many people that knew MacArthur. The book portrays MacArthur honestly, flaws and all. He had his moments where he shined, such as the Southwest Pacific campaigns and Inchon, but times where he failed miserably, such as right after Pearl Harbor a ...more
Took me some time to read this book. I found that Mac Arthur was a larger than life character. William Manchester presents a balanced picture of him and is not afraid to criticize the General. What I thought was remarkable was the personal bravery Mac Arthur displayed on his pre WWI Mexican raid and the his time in France. Some of his actions were almost suicidal but he lead his men in battle and was not afraid to but himself in harms way. His personal life early on was dominated by his mother a ...more
Dave Gaston
Alpha Male personified; at his very best and his very worst. In terms of understanding World War II, missing the story of General MacArthur as Supreme Commander is like tripping over the importance of the Manhattan Project. He was a military genius under who’s sole command the Pacific allied force strategically gained victory over Japan. MacArthur exuded his title of “Supreme Commander.” He did not possess “delusions of grander”... there was no delusion, he was Grand and God Given... He knew it, ...more
Upon the death of General Douglas MacArthur - 5-star general, Medal of Honor Winner, Field Marshall of the Philippines, proconsul of Japan, Republican presidential hopeful, and creepy mommy's boy - an obituary observed that MacArthur's "[m:]emory will never know peace."

So true. Even today, almost 50 years after his death, people are arguing about his legacy. Well, at least I am. With anyone who will listen.

By any measure, MacArthur had an extraordinary career, filled with incredible ups and do
Benjamin Thomas
This is, I believe, the best historical biography I have ever read...and I've read some great ones. Part of that may be due to the subject at hand, Douglas MacArthur, one of the more complicated personalities of history out there. A brilliant man, but flawed in several respects, he was such a major figure of American history and, indeed, world history. He was at once, a genius, a great leader of men, a supreme strategist, as well as an incredible egoist capable of monumental mistakes in judgemen ...more
Aaron Crofut
MacArthur was one of the last noble giants to walk this Earth. With the cynicism of our current culture, it's almost impossible to imagine him or anyone like him living among us today. The man was born into a world in which the Midwest was a dangerous frontier rather than boring flyover country and died explaining to LBJ that Vietnam wasn't a place we should send American troops. The world changed remarkably during those 84 years, but MacArthur remained MacArthur of the 19th Century idealism. Hi ...more
Read this some time ago, but it popped upon my list of recommendations. I recall it fairly well. It's a very detailed biography of MacArthur that talks about his personal life in considerable detail. It is also quite good through World War II. The book falls short a bit with regard to his time in Japan as SCAP. That is a bit of a shame because so much happened during his tenure there to include the (American) writing of the Constitution that Japan uses today. John Dower and others have covered t ...more
A very critical and well written historical account of one of America's most important Commanding Generals in the history of the nation. Investigative journalism is prevelant within and through out the whole book but comes out most effectively in my view with regard to the account of the Court Martials of General Billy Mitchell and then again later in a documented account of the last conversation that President Truman had with General MacArthur during the time of the Korean War. The promise of T ...more
Justin Nichols
What a book and what a Soldier,

This is one of the best-written biographies I have ever read. It is nonfiction which flows so smoothly like a novel. Manchester gives the great General his due, showing the many times he risked his life on the front lines even when his Flag rank would have allowed him to remain in safety. On the other hand, many embarrassing facts are also on display here- for example, how the "Supreme Commander (SCAP)" owes a key promotion to his doting mother's intervention, and
Frank Hughes
The best, most enthralling biography I've ever read. An extraordinary man of so many contradictions it makes your head spin. A vainglorious narcissist, a man of extraordinary physical courage, a politician, a philosopher, a master strategist, and the diplomat whose extraordinary administration of a defeated Japan rebuilt a defeated feudal nation into a democracy and economic powerhouse. Read this and you'll be eager to read Manchester's multiple edition biography of Churchill, the final book of ...more
Michael Burnam-fink
General MacArthur was the last of the Great Men. It's hard to overstate his talents. Number 3 cadet at West Point (of all time. #1 is Robert E. Lee, #2 a nobody from the class of 1884), decorated for valor again and again in WWI, a brilliant and unconventional commander of amphibious warfare in the Philippines, and Proconsul to Japan, where he single-handledly reformed the devasted country into a modern nation. His genius, energy, vision, shaped the world we live in.

And yet, he was a deeply flaw
Manchester might be the greatest nonfiction writer of all time.
MacArthur, like many people, was a complicated human being. He was also exceptional - at his best, he was the greatest, and at his worst, he was horrible. I don't know enough about MacArthur outside of this book and in larger WWII histories to claim whether or not Manchester is accurate. However, his biography strikes me as amazingly fair. There are PLENTY of critiques of MacArthur's personality, ego, wartime leadership, and domesti
I highly suggest this book to anyone who is interested in interesting leaders and WWII history. MacArthur had a most important impact for many decades and has been often very misunderstood. Took me forever to read this book, it is very long and tedious at times, but well worth the read. Mac Arthur was a larger than life character. The author presents a balanced view of him and criticizes the General realistically. Many of his actions were practically suicidal but he did lead his men into battle ...more
Douglas MacArthur was one of those historical figures that I really didn't know much about, but knew that he had been both a revered and a controversial figure. I knew he had a connection to the state of Arkansas, to the Philippines, and to Korea. But I was very unaware of the incredible role in played in postwar Japan.

In this book, written in 1978, William Manchester thoroughly chronicles his history, discussing his father and grandfather to demonstrate that MacArthur was a man of destiny in s
I had the honor of being in the audience when General MacArthur gave his "Farewell to the Corps" speech. I was there because I had followed his banner from the time I was a teenager, having already read 2 of his biographies and having seen him land at Houston's Hobby Airport when he returned from Korea and ride through throngs of cheering Texans. He was my living military hero. So, after he had given his historic speech, I waited for him to appear along with General Westmoreland and saluted, whi ...more
Jill Hutchinson
I can't possibly add to any of the previous reviews on this thread......suffice it to say, this may be one of the best biographies I have ever read (and I've read a lot). MacArthur was a complex man and Manchester captures his personality and career masterfully. This is a must read!!!
Another superb Manchester book. He sets history into context. He started out by thinking he would not like MacArthur and he was right. But he came to admire him for his military expertise.

Thanks again, Louis. You remind me of books I read long ago.
MacArthur, one of the greatest of all American generals and perhaps of all time, is presented fully, warts and all, by Manchester. For all of MacArthur's faults (egotism, paranoia, stubbornness) he was a great asset to the US and to our Allies. I think his greatest accomplishment was his five years in Japan as the Viceroy/Supreme Commander. He had the understanding, liberal values, and broad perspective to help Nipon to rise from the ashes and to become on of the strongest and most creative coun ...more
I've never been a big MacArthur fan. His hyper-ego, his imperial ways, his tendency to play the blame game, and his fondness for extremely purple pronouncements spoken with Shakespearean fervor disinclined me to feel otherwise.

The fine historian W.R. Manchester makes no effort to overlook these less-than-charming qualities in the general's character. But this extensive and balanced account made me more aware of MacArthur's more sterling qualities, such as his personal courage--he won 7 Silver St
Monte Dutton
A dark aspect of the time is that many people limit their reading, if they're reading, to that which they already want know or want to. I've never been an admirer of Gen. Douglas MacArhur, though my father's Uncle Cas served under him in the Philippines. But I want to know about significant figures in history, and that's why one of my favorite biographies was about Ronald Reagan, whom I do not admire, and why one of the books I've read over the past couple years was about Barry Goldwater. I'm in ...more
Like most Americans, I knew of Douglas MacArthur before listening to this audiobook. I knew he was a five-star general of the army like Eisenhower, Marshall, and Bradley. I knew he commanded forces in the Pacific in World War II, constituting the southern effort that mirrored the central Pacific effort commanded by Chester Nimitz. I knew that he was sacked early in the Korean War by President Truman for insubordination. I knew that he was called “Dugout Doug” by troops who believed he did not sh ...more
Chris Cassleman
I'm finding this book very interesting and engaging. I can't seem to put the book down. I'm addicted to it. MacArthur is such a dynamic and inspiring figure. I knew very little about him before I started reading the book, which I think is typical for a lot of people. It's a shame because I think we have a lot to learn from him. I think MacArthur's story represents a lot of what is great about the United States. He was so much more than just a soldier. He led a really extraordinary life. MacArthu ...more
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William Raymond Manchester was an American author and biographer, notable as the bestselling author of 18 books that have been translated into 20 languages.He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.
More about William R. Manchester...
A World Lit Only by Fire The Last Lion 1: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40 Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War The Death of a President: November 1963

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