Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Book Review: MacArthur: America’s General by Yokelson & Mansfield

Since finishing a year of reading Beyond Opinion, I went looking for another Thomas Nelson book to read and review. I’ve known Thomas Nelson is publishing biographies lately. That’s a great coincidence. After reading Andy Andrews’ “The Final Summit”, I committed myself to reading biographies. I selected “MacArthur: America’s General” by Mitchell Yokelson and edited by Stephen Mansfield, author of The Faith of Barack Obama (which I reviewed) and several other books on my to do list.
I can’t say I’ve given Douglas MacArthur much thought. It never occurred me me he was much of a Christian, at least, not one a biography series of the saints who came before us would include. So I already learned something. I knew MacArthur was a West Point graduate, and served in the Army for a buttload of a long time (52 years!) I knew he served in 3 major conflicts and that President Truman relieved him during the Korean (U.N. sanctioned undeclared war police action) War.
And so, Yokelson’s MacArthur was a pleasant surprise and a great read. It started with MacArthur’s grandfather, Judge MacArthur, and chronicled his father’s (Arthur MacArthur’s) service from the Civil War through the Spanish American War and the years afterward.
I read this book in Kindle format. I found it to be a quick and exciting read. I wouldn’t call it a comprehensive read, but it covers the life of MacArthur and his influences well enough that I probably now know more about that man than all but those who have chosen to study him deeply. At least, those who weren’t alive during his time.
I learned MacArthur was a voracious reader. His library of more than 8000 books burned when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, yet apparently he left a still impressive library at his monument in Norfolk. I wish I’d known about it the last time I was there, although I’m currently about a 3 hour drive, so I could talk a buddy or two into taking a drive with me on a weekend. MacArthur’s reading makes me feel better about the books I’ve acquired. I have no count of the paper books I own. I have 20 books in my “ready service” locker where I’m staying in Virginia. God knows how many books I have at my house in New Jersey. I have more than 310 Kindle books to date. I have more than 14,000 books available on Safari Tech Books, with about 70 bookmarked. So hopefully, it’ll do me some good in the future.
MacArthur started his Army career as an engineer, but it doesn’t seem his heart was in it. He made his name as an Infantry commander. And what a name it was! He was a general before the end of World War I, and made a General Of The Army (5 stars!) before World War II ended. He personally accepted the Japanese surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, and oversaw the occupation and rebuilding of Japan.
I can’t say I have much experience reviewing biographies. I plan to get better at it, as I’ve committed to reading more of them. If you want to read about a true American hero, MacArthur: America’s General is a great, quick way to go. I’m sure there are larger books out there, but this is a quick, comprehensive way to find out about the life and career of this great man. You may have heard of him, but this book will help you get to know him.

MacArthur: America's General (The Generals)

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