SUPREME COMMANDER by Seymour Morris Jr.

SUPREME COMMANDER

MacArthur's Triumph in Japan

KIRKUS REVIEW

An unabashedly admiring reappraisal of Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) as supreme protector of a great fallen nation at the close of World War II.

Publishing around the same time as Mark Perry’s The Most Dangerous Man in America (2014), the pursuit of the many lives of the five-star general continues in this enthusiastic breakdown of MacArthur’s wildly successful five-year occupation of defeated Japan, a model to be followed and studied. Author and entrepreneur Morris (American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts that Never Made It into the Textbooks, 2010) believes the record regarding MacArthur’s administrative coup in helping Japan recover needs elucidation, from his initial decision to arrive in Japan unarmed for the surrender ceremony of Sept. 2, 1945, to his insistence on sparing Emperor Hirohito to his radical push for emancipating Japanese women. Above all, MacArthur was a keen student of history and modeled his magnanimity toward the vanquished Japanese on Gen. Ulysses Grant’s honorable treatment of Gen. Robert E. Lee, among other examples, hoping to gain trust in his new charges rather than instill fear and provoke alarm from reactionary elements. Hence his highly controversial decision to keep the emperor in power, although he was stripped of his godlike status: MacArthur recognized that the emperor could help “bring about a spiritual transformation of the Japanese people.” Moving swiftly as supreme commander on the orders of President Harry S. Truman yet with powers so vast that he was able to operate over the heads of the War Department, the general brought food to the starving people, neutralized the Japanese military, repatriated millions of Japanese troops and civilians, instituted land reform, kept the Russians at bay and implemented the “Nuremberg of the East” trials. Most astonishing was how MacArthur’s wily team managed to rewrite the Japanese Constitution—with codification of more sweeping rights for women than in any other country except Russia.

A gung-ho, breezily entertaining study for lay readers.

Pub Date: April 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-228793-9
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2014




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