cover image The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur

The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur

Mark Perry. Basic, $29.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-465-01328-9

Relying on personal accounts, letters, diaries, and interviews, Perry (Grant and Twain) provocatively reinterprets the volatile relationship between F.D.R. and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Calls for “a man on a prancing steed” were widespread during the tumultuous Depression; the obvious candidate was then army chief of staff MacArthur. Angling to claim the White House, F.D.R. desired to “tame” this man of considerable abilities and make him “useful to us.” For 15 years he succeeded, making optimal use of “the most dangerous man in America” by channeling MacArthur’s ego and talents instead of opposing him outright. MacArthur’s 1941 assignment as commander of U.S. forces in the Far East was a lost cause from the beginning—and both Roosevelt and MacArthur knew it. But returning to the Philippines became MacArthur’s obsession, and despite his prickly persona Roosevelt kept him in command for “sound military reasons.” MacArthur established the institutional and doctrinal framework for one of WWII’s most successful economy-of-force campaigns, developed America’s most successful senior combined-arms command and logistics team, and convinced Roosevelt that America’s debt to the Philippines could be paid only by their liberation in arms. It is a distinguished list of achievements and Perry demonstrates the debt MacArthur owed to Roosevelt’s insight as well as his thick skin. (Apr.)