THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA by Mark Perry
Kirkus Star

THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA

The Making of Douglas MacArthur

KIRKUS REVIEW

In a study of quiet authority, Perry spotlights the presumptuous commanding general at the moment of his evolving maturity during the Pacific theater and apotheosis in the Philippines.

Working by comparison and contrast as he has done in previous works on George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower (Partners in Command, 2007) and Ulysses Grant and Mark Twain (Grant and Twain, 2004), Perry draws Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) in sharp relief against the actions and policies of Franklin Roosevelt, who recognized his rival’s power and perversity and privately called him the most dangerous man in America. Roosevelt admired the war hero and Army chief of staff, inherited from Hoover’s administration, and mistrusted his motives and ambition, but Roosevelt resisted dismissing him, as recommended by his New Dealers. Instead, he shrewdly employed him as a foil to his Republican opponents. While Perry is not blind to MacArthur’s overriding character issues—including arrogance, vanity and paranoia—the author does suggest that the general has been judged overwhelmingly by his strong-arm tactics, his leadership obtuseness after the Pearl Harbor attack and his later confrontation with President Harry S. Truman—and also underappreciated for some of his actions during his wartime command in the Pacific, namely the coordinated land, sea and air assault of Operation Cartwheel. “Exiled” to the Philippines yet providentially situated in 1940 when chaos was unleashed in the Pacific, MacArthur nonetheless underestimated the Japanese threat and overestimated the Philippines’ troops. His “dilatory” response on the morning of Dec. 8, 1941, led to the Clark Field debacle and the “dooming” of the Philippines. Perry impressively moves through each of the seminal arenas of the Pacific war.

A majestic overview with an engaging sense of the nuance of character. Thankfully, Perry doesn’t become mired in familiar biographical detail.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-465-01328-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2014




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