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Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was an American general
who commanded the Southwest Pacific in World War II (1939-1945),
oversaw the successful Allied occupation of postwar Japan and
led United Nations forces in the Korean War (1950-1953).
A larger-than-life, controversial figure, MacArthur was talented, outspoken and, in the eyes of many, egotistical.
He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1903 and helped lead the 42nd Division in France during World War I (1914-1918).
He went on to serve as superintendent of West Point,
chief of staff of the Army and field marshal of the Philippines, where he helped organize a military.
During World War II, he famously returned to liberate the Philippines in 1944 after it had fallen to the Japanese.
MacArthur led United Nations forces during the start of the Korean War,
but later clashed with President Harry Truman over war policy and was removed from command.
Douglas MacArthur’s Early Years
Douglas MacArthur was born on January 26, 1880, at the Little Rock Barracks in Arkansas. MacArthur’s early childhood was spent on western frontier outposts where his Army officer father, Arthur MacArthur (1845-1912), was stationed. The younger MacArthur later said of the experience, “It was here I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write–indeed, almost before I could walk or talk.”
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MacArthur’s Jungle War
The 1944 New Guinea Campaign
When General Douglas MacArthur led Allied troops into the jungles of New Guinea in World War II, he was already looking ahead. By successfully leapfrogging Japanese forces on that island, he placed his armies in a position to fulfill his personal promise to liberate the Philippines.
The New Guinea campaign has gone down in history as one of MacArthur’s shining successes. Now Stephen Taaffe has written the definitive history of that assault, showing why it succeeded and what it contributed to the overall strategy against Japan. His book tells not only how victory was gained through a combination of technology, tactics, and Army-Navy cooperation, but also how the New Guinea campaign exemplified the strategic differences that plagued the Pacific War, since many high-ranking officers considered it a diversionary tactic rather than a key offensive.
MacArthur’s Jungle War examines the campaign’s strategic background and individual operations
, describing the enormous challenges posed by jungle and amphibious warfare.
Perhaps more important, it offers a balanced assessment of MacArthur’s leadership and limitations,
revealing his reliance on familiar battle plans and showing the vital role that subordinates played in his victory.
Taaffe tells how MacArthur played the difficulties of the New Guinea campaign
by maintaining his undivided attention on reaching the Philippines.
He also discloses how MacArthur frequently deceived both his superiors and the public
in order to promote his own agenda, and examines errors the general would later repeat on a larger scale up through the Korean War.
MacArthur’s Jungle War offers historians a more analytical treatment
of the New Guinea campaign than is found in previous works,
and is written with a dramatic flair that will appeal to military buffs.
By revealing the interaction among American military planning,
interservice politics, MacArthur’s generalship, and the American way of war,
Taaffe’s account provides a clearer understanding of America’s Pacific war strategy and
shows that the New Guinea offensive was not a mere backwater affair, but a critical part of the war against Japan.
Korean War & Douglas MacArthur
In June 1950, Communist forces from North Korea invaded the western-aligned Republic of South Korea,
launching the Korean War. Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the American-led coalition of United Nations troops.
That fall, his troops repelled the North Koreans and eventually drove them back toward the Chinese border.
MacArthur met with President Truman,
who worried that the communist government of the People’s Republic of China
might view the invasion as a hostile act and intervene in the conflict.
The general assured him the chances of a Chinese intervention were slim.
Then, in November and December 1950, a massive force of Chinese troops
crossed into North Korea and flung themselves against the American lines, driving the U.S. troops back into South Korea.
MacArthur asked for permission to bomb communist China and
use Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China.
Truman flatly refused these requests, and a public dispute broke out between the two men.