7 thoughts on “Unhistory Monday: The General”

  1. The best and shortest character study I have seen on “Big Mac” is from British liaison officer, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Wilkinson, who reported to Churchill that:

    “He is shrewd, selfish, proud, remote, highly strung and vastly vain. He has imagination, self-confidence, physical courage and charm, but no humor about himself, no regard for truth, and is unaware of these defects. He mistakes his emotions and ambitions for principles. With moral depth he would be a great man; as it is he is a near miss which may be worse than mile…. His main ambition would be to end the war as pan-American hero in the form of generalissimo of all Pacific theaters…. he hates Roosevelt and dislikes Winston’s control of Roosevelt’s strategy. He is not basically anti British, just pro-MacArthur.”

    MacArthur was a high strung, neurotic, political, glory hound SOB with the eye for the main chance and was a pompous ass, but he was physically fearless and had the courage of his convictions…whatever they were at the moment.

    He was also brilliant, lucky, he learned from his own mistakes, and he listened to people who knew more than he did while taking the credit for their good advice (See Gen. Kenney & Adm. Barbey).

    MacArthur was the most decorated American soldier of WW1. MacArthur’s valor under fire in the famed 42nd ‘Rainbow’ Division was legendary and earned him the distinction of being the most decorated American soldier of World War I.

    He likely didn’t feel he had anything to prove early in WW2, at least until the “Doug-Out Doug” talk started. See Carlo D’Este here:


    MacArthur did not go to the front at either Bataan or Buna. However, after being burned twice, MacArthur went to the front far too often for a three or four star’s job description, too include exposing himself to Japanese rifle fire.

    Admiral Barbey had to throw him off one of his light cruisers during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. When it looked like Kurita’s gunline would break through the Taffy CVE groups and reach the transports.

    The man literally stood on the bridge of ships under Kamikaze and torpedo attack (after & before the Leyte incident above). He had that kind of ego, see Ike on MacArthur from the same D’Este article:

    “Eisenhower’s greatest compliments were reserved for MacArthur:

    ‘He did have a hell of an intellect! My God, but he was smart. He had a brain.’

    All genius has its price, and for MacArthur it was an inviolate belief in his own infallibility.

    ‘MacArthur could never see another sun, or even a moon, for that matter, in the heavens as long as he was the sun,’ Eisenhower told biographer Peter Lyon.”

    More truthful than fatual…and pretty much on-target.

  2. Classic.

    “”What we are trying to do now is to create a tactical situation that is favorable to us. Once that is accomplished, the actual killing of Nips can be handled by more efficient means such as aerial bombardment, mass starvation, and the like.”

  3. I always remember the story of his being at West Point and his mother moved into a hotel; on a hill where she could peer onto the grounds – to let her son know she was there and to keep studying.

    AFAIK the hotel is still there.

    Would arrogant and audacious be an apt description of him? That famous photo of him stepping off the landing craft at Leyte was reshot – he didn’t like the first take.

    How many generals could have pulled off Inchon.

    I think his greatest achievement is molding postwar Japan.

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