Book Reviews

MacArthur by Mitchell Yockelson

The history buff in me couldn’t wait to get his hands on this book.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Yockelson’s prose is easy to read and made this biography of one of America’s most iconic heroes an easy page-turner.  Yockelson starts with the childhood of Douglas MacArthur, detailing how he grew up as a military kid, moving from post to post whenever his father was transferred.  MacArthur grew up seeing the west while it was still wild in many ways and loved the military life.

Yockelson then describes MacArthur’s West Point days, as well as his adventures in WWI during which he would earn 7 silver stars, two distinguished service crosses, a Purple Heart and be recommended (though denied) for the Medal of Honor twice.  From there MacArthur served as Chief of Staff under Hoover and FDR before being assigned to serve in the Philippines.  It was while he was there that the U.S. was drawn into WWII by Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Again, Yockelson tells of MacArthur’s wartime exploits with enough detail to keep the story moving, but not so much to bog the reader down.  After WWII came MacArthur’s time to serve Japan by rebuilding it’s government.  Of all his accomplishments, it was his treatment of the Japanese people that I found most noble about this great general.  As they describe, he did not treat them as vanquished foes, but as allies in need of help.  YOckelson concludes with MacArthur’s brilliance in the Korean War, his clashing with Truman and subsequent firing, and his final speeches to congress, and then a decade later to West Point.  Sprinkled throughout was the story of a man who tried to honor God the best way he knew how, by honoring his country.

I found the book informative, easy to read and fair.  Yockelson doesn’t sugarcoat over some of the messier details of MacArthur’s life (like the mistress he had while serving as Chief of Staff or his surly attitude towards Truman over Korea and China), but he does treat the life of MacArthur with the respect deserved of a man who gave so much for his country.  A must-read for any history fan out there.

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