Book Review: The General’s General: The Life and Times of Arthur MacArthur


by Kenneth Ray Young

Boulder, CO: Westview, 1994. xv, 400 pp. Illus, maps, notes, bibliog, index. $26.00 paper. ISBN:0-8133-3062-9

A valuable biography of one of the most interesting characters in American military history. Arthur MacArthur’s career began spectacularly in the Civil War, from which he emerged at 19 as a regimental commander, went through two decades of company duty on the frontier, during which he invented what would become the post exchange, and then experienced rapid rise to prominence during the Spanish-American and Philppine Wars.

The most interesting and useful parts of the book are its description of life on the frontier (in 20 years of frontier duty MacArthur never once heard a shor fired in anger), and its extensive treatment of the Philippine Insurrection, during which MacArthur made a number of enemies (notably William Taft) who would later deny him the crowning honor of serving as chief-of-staff of the army before retiring.

Of value also for its deliberate look at the influences that shaped the character of the general’s son, Douglas MacArthur, the book does contain some unfortunate errors of fact (e.g., there is no "Company J").

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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