American MacArthurnWilliam Manchester: AmericannCaesar: Little, Brown and Co.;nBoston.nby Alan LevinenWilliam Manchester has writtennwhat is probably the best one-volumenbiography of General Douglas MacArthur.nThough not unflawed. it offersnconsiderable insights into MacArthur sncomplex personalitv and relationships.nAmerican Caesar is well-written in spitenof occasional lapses mto a dialect similarnto “Timese,” and attempts to be cutesyn—Manchester frequently refers to thenJapanese as the “Nipponese.” It is essentiallynfair-minded, though Manchesterndoes sometimes measure Mac-nArthur by the anachronistic, and perhapsnephemeral standards of a later dayn—does it make any sense to refer tonMacArthur as a “male chauvinist”? Thenfalse analogy with Julius Caesar impliednin the title cannot be taken very senriously. Fortunately, however, Manchesternhimself does not seem to takenit very seriously either, and it is notnallowed to warp the book. Nor does itnprevent Manchester from presenting anfavorable, even perhaps occasionallvntoo favorable, view of MacArthur.nwhom he regards as the most gifted ofnAmerican generals.nOne of the best aspects of Manchester’snbook is his treatment of MacArthur’snearly life. Like his very distantnrelative. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mac-nArthur was dominated and propellednby a formidable mother. While growingnup in a succession of isolated Armynposts he acquired an amazingly broadneducation and cultural tastes. It wasnperhaps because of this that he wasnable to easily dominate his peers atnWest Point, which was an educationalnwasteland even in military matters untilnMr. Levine is a historian and a frequentncontributor to these pages.nIS InChronicles of Culturen.MacArthur himself instituted reformsnin the 1920s. Manchester does not makenclear whether this, or JMacArthur’s fanaticalnperfectionism, was the sourcenof his fantastic egomania and vanity.nThough Manchester perhaps overemphasizesnthese unpleasant characteristics,nwhich are after all no morenback to World War I. as Manchesternand manv other writers have ne mvsterv that Manchester doesnnot solve is why MacArthur was sonunpopular with ordinary soldiers duringnWorld War II. How did a man who e.x-n”Douglas MacArthur is one of the major embarrassments of Americannhistory.” • .c,, «•n— Timen”The pro-MacArthur tilt of the book is equally obvious in small ways. Anynpart of the MacArthur makeup, including his bladder, can take on heroicnqualities.”n—New York Times Book Reviewnimportant historically than Cyrano denBergerac’s nose, they are the onlynserious flaws that he exposes in Mac-nArthur. To paraphrase Churchill’snremark about Attlee, MacArthur was anvain man, but he had much to be vainnabout.nManchester’s account of MacArthur’snmilitary career is generally excellent,nthough the section on the Pacific Warnis marred by quite a few inaccuraciesnin small details, none of which, however,nbear on Manchester’s argumentsnor his high evaluation of MacArthur’sngeneralship. Manchester does err. however,nin portraying MacArthur’s relationshipnwith Admiral Nimitz’s commandnin the central Pacific as a perpetualnclash over which theater should launchnthe main offensive against Japan. It isnan interesting, though little known factnthat for a time early in 1944, Nimitznand his planners swung over to backingnMacArthur’s concept of a single drivenfrom New Guinea to the Philippines.nAdmiral King, MacArthur’s eternalnenemy among the Washington brass,nintervened to force Nimitz to abandonnthis position and resume the centralnPacific drive. It is also uncertain thatnMacArthur’s relationship with GeorgenMarshall was a permanent feud goingnnnhibited courage bordering on recklessnessnthroughout his life acquire thentag “Dugout Doug”? In the First WorldnWar, by contrast, he was very popularnwith his men. Manchester argues thatnbetween the world wars Americans hadnbeen influenced by a growing mood ofn”antiauthoritarianism” and “antiheroism”;nsoldiers were offended by Mac-nArthur’s obvious enjoyment of command,nhis gold-encrusted cap, and thenegocentric tone and awful inaccuraciesnof his communiques. (Among othernfaults. MacArthur regularly announcednthat battles and campaigns had beennfinished long before they actually were.)nI doubt that Manchester’s analysis ofnchanges in the American national characternis correct—if such a thing actuallynexists—but in any case other commandersnmanaged to surpass MacArthur’snfaults without attracting such hostility.nMacArthur may have issued distortedncommuniques, but he never let considerationsnof personal prestige affectnhis conduct of operations, as MarknClark did during the advance on Romenin 1944. Admiral Halsey was respected,nand even popular, though in 1942 henannounced that the Allies would be innTokyo by the end of 1943, and boastednthat he would ride through Tokyo onn