Author(s): Arthur Herman
A new, definitive life of an American icon, the visionary general who led American forces through three wars and foresaw his nation's great geopolitical shift toward the Pacific Rim-from the Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of Gandhi & Churchill Douglas MacArthur was arguably the last American public figure to be worshipped unreservedly as a national hero, the last military figure to conjure up the romantic stirrings once evoked by George Armstrong Custer and Robert E. Lee. But he was also one of America's most divisive figures, a man whose entire career was steeped in controversy. Was he an avatar or an anachronism, a brilliant strategist or a vainglorious mountebank? Drawing on a wealth of new sources, Arthur Herman delivers a powerhouse biography that peels back the layers of myth-both good and bad-and exposes the marrow of the man beneath. MacArthur's life spans the emergence of the United States Army as a global fighting force. Its history is to a great degree his story. The son of a Civil War hero, he led American troops in three monumental conflicts-World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Born four years after Little Bighorn, he died just as American forces began deploying in Vietnam. Herman's magisterial book spans the full arc of MacArthur's journey, from his elevation to major general at thirty-eight through his tenure as superintendent of West Point, field marshal of the Philippines, supreme ruler of postwar Japan, and beyond. More than any previous biographer, Herman shows how MacArthur's strategic vision helped shape several decades of U.S. foreign policy. Alone among his peers, he foresaw the shift away from Europe, becoming the prophet of America's destiny in the Pacific Rim. Here, too, is a vivid portrait of a man whose grandiose vision of his own destiny won him enemies as well as acolytes. MacArthur was one of the first military heroes to cultivate his own public persona-the swashbuckling commander outfitted with Ray-Ban sunglasses, riding crop, and corncob pipe. Repeatedly spared from being killed in battle-his soldiers nicknamed him "Bullet Proof"-he had a strong sense of divine mission. "Mac" was a man possessed, in the words of one of his contemporaries, of a "supreme and almost mystical faith that he could not fail." Yet when he did, it was on an epic scale. His willingness to defy both civilian and military authority was, Herman shows, a lifelong trait-and it would become his undoing. Tellingly, MacArthur once observed, "Sometimes it is the order one disobeys that makes one famous." To capture the life of such an outsize figure in one volume is no small achievement. With Douglas MacArthur, Arthur Herman has set a new standard for untangling the legacy of this American legend.
Praise for Douglas MacArthur A rip-roaring biography . . . an exciting account of a grand old soldier, who, contrary to his mock-modest protestations, never seems to fade away. . . . With Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior, the prolific and talented historian Arthur Herman has delivered an expertly rendered, compulsively readable account that does full justice to MacArthur s monumental achievements without slighting his equally monumental flaws. Max Boot, Commentary Unfailingly evocative . . . close to an epic . . . More than a biography, it is a tale of a time in the past almost impossible to contemplate today as having taken place, with MacArthur himself as a figure perhaps too remote to understand, but all the more important to encounter. The New Criterion Herman presents a superb reexamination of MacArthur and his role in American history. Booklist (Starred Review) Arthur Herman peels back the layers of myth to reveal the marrow of this man s career in his powerful new history, Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior. . . . [This book] stands above two dozen previous biographies on MacArthur due to Herman s well-researched, balanced evaluation. He has drawn upon vast sources, including Soviet and Chinese archives and even Jean MacArthur s private oral history. . . . American Warrior is engaging throughout and significant in capturing the brilliance of a man whose vision helped define the United States in the twentieth century and beyond. The Dallas Morning News This is revisionist history at its best and, hopefully, will reopen a debate about the judgment of history and MacArthur s place in history. New York Journal of Books To capture the life of such an outsize figure in one volume is no small achievement. With Douglas MacArthur, Arthur Herman has set a new standard for untangling the legacy of this American legend. Bookreporter Many books have been written about General MacArthur s leadership and bravery, but this one has brought to the fore his seminal contributions to geopolitics: that he foresaw the growing importance of Asia to the United States and to a rapidly changing world. . . . A compelling new biography. Henry A. Kissinger With clarity of vision and honest conviction, Arthur Herman has painted an important and enduring portrait of an enigmatic and essential American life. Douglas MacArthur was, with the Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman, one of the most globally influential figures of the nation s rise to imperial status. Herman s excellent book is readable, engaging, and timely. Jon Meacham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Destiny and Power Douglas MacArthur was brilliant and arrogant, captivating and infuriating. He smote America s enemies and vexed America s leaders. He is a wonderful subject for biography, and in Arthur Herman he has found a wonderful biographer: thorough, balanced, insightful, and engaging. This is the best life of MacArthur in a generation. H. W. Brands, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and author of Reagan: The Life Arthur Herman has achieved two near-impossible coups with this well-researched, well-written, and groundbreaking book. He has managed to present Douglas MacArthur in a fully rounded, properly objective way that doesn t fall into the hagiography or revisionism of so many previous biographies, and he also reestablishes MacArthur s central place among the greats of the Allied high command, alongside Dwight Eisenhower, George C. Marshall, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the other giant figures of World War Two. This book is a towering achievement. Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War A sympathetic yet fair portrayal of a majestic but forever controversial figure. It remains indisputable that Douglas MacArthur led one of the most interesting and consequential lives of the twentieth century, and this fine biography captures all its scope and significance. Robert L. O Connell, author of Fierce Patriot From the Hardcover edition."
Arthur Herman is the author of best-seller How the Scots Invented the Modern World, as well as The Idea of Decline in Western History and To Rule the Waves. Gandhi & Churchill was a 2008 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.