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American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  8,437 Ratings  ·  211 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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 793 pages
Published April 30th 2008 by Back Bay Books (first published September 30th 1978)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 24, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

 photo Douglas20MacArthur20West20Point_zpsczuluj8y.jpg
Douglas MacArthur at West Point. Following in his father’s footsteps.

The blare of trumpets, the clash of arms, the screams of the wounded, the bullets whizzing through the air, and the acrid smell of cannon smoke were all part of the life of Douglas MacArthur since the day he was born. His father’s exploits hung on him like a second skin. At the Battle of Missionary
Jan 04, 2010 Rogier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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
Sep 27, 2008 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 09, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 28, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Sep 22, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2012 R.M.F Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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. Genius needs no explanation, genius has always been flawed, from Achilles to Newton, great men have always followed their own co
Mary JL
Nov 26, 2008 Mary JL rated it liked it  ·  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
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!!!
Aug 24, 2010 Mcgyver5 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, wwii
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
David Hill
Nov 14, 2015 David Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book sat on my bookshelf for years before I was willing to make the investment necessary. This is 800 pages of small print (including the index, notes, and bibliography). There are a number of photographs scattered throughout the book and a few maps in the middle. If the battles had been covered in more detail I'd have wanted more maps than are provided, but as this book is about the man rather than the battles they are sufficient.

Reading this book I realized that, although I've read quite
Jul 20, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
At the time I was old enough to get a sense of who Douglas MacArthur was (which was about the same time this biography came out), the general was still part of the cultural landscape. Even as a kid, were I to find some occasion where it seemed apropos, I could have quoted MacArthur's famous line, 'I shall return', and many, if not most, would have known not only who said it but when and why. I can't believe that's true anymore. If I were to take a poll, I think I'd find that MacArthur has truly ...more
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
Oct 24, 2012 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 10, 2009 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Justin Nichols
Jan 24, 2013 Justin Nichols rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 01, 2012 Frank Hughes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Janine Urban
Jan 01, 2013 Janine Urban rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to believe that MacArthur is not a fictional character. That a man so bold, egotistical, and brazen truly lived. But he did. Manchester does a great job of depicting the good and the bad that was Douglas MacArthur. From victories in the Philippines to Japan, escape to Australia, and being relieved by Truman in Korea, this book is an exhaustive look at the complex character of one of only five U.S. Men to achieve the rank of five-star General. Definitely one I'd recommend.
Dec 17, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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.
Willie Latane
May 02, 2016 Willie Latane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I got bogged down in such descriptive language it was a very enlightening read.
Apr 30, 2010 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kenneth Jr.
Jun 16, 2016 Kenneth Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
American Caesar is another masterful rendering by the late William Manchester. It is a long, insightful and in-depth examination of General MacArthur the man and his history-making effect on the Army, two World Wars, Japan and Korea. Following his life from his forbearers through his death in 1964 the author enlightens the reader on the General’s keen intelligence as well as his flamboyance, arrogance, shyness and flaws – “the best of men and the worst of men.”
History buffs will delight in the
Jan 19, 2017 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ron-klein
When I started this book, I had a generally negative attitude toward Gen. MacArthur, mostly for what I viewed as his braggadocio, his defiance toward authority, and for the Korea debacle. By the time I finished the book, I had a much more respectful view of him. He was a genuine military genius; he was a brave--sometimes almost suicidal--commander; despite his deep flaws, he was a genuine, caring individual. I've learned that part of what made him so great WAS these very flaws. What a delightful ...more
Tim Martin
Generals of WWII fascinate me. This book, while hard to read in some places (as most biographies are) kept me going through the end. So much to discover about a generation that had the fortitude to make decisions and to wade through the politics without sacrificing their principals. Egos can be channeled for ultimate good.
Aug 16, 2016 Vern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and informative book on one of the most controversial military leaders in U.S. history. Before reading this book my opinion of MacArthur was extraordinarily negative. I thought he was a narcissistic, egocentric, paranoid, self-promoter. This book affirms that he was all those things, but he was also a brilliant military strategist, possessed tremendous personal courage, and was genuinely concerned for the welfare of his troops. His downfall towards the end of his career was his handl ...more
Jun 22, 2016 Fred rated it liked it
Shelves: biographical
I bought this book not only to learn more about MacArthur, but also because I was especially interested in reading about a couple historical events that I’ve not found much written about. The first event was the Japanese bombing raid on Clarke Field in the Philippines that managed to catch all of our airplanes on the ground and so destroy them all. As the raid occurred one day after Pearl Harbor, how could those forces, which should have been on highest alert, have been caught by surprise? This ...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.
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“I will not take by sacrifice what I can achieve by strategy.” 3 likes
“A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys.” 2 likes
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