In This Review

The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur
The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur
By Mark Perry
Basic Books, 2014, 416 pp

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt saw the danger in Douglas MacArthur. The man Roosevelt inherited as army chief of staff was a military celebrity, a war hero with a political agenda, an expansive ego, and a shaky grasp of the proper conduct of civil-military relations. A less confident president might have sought to keep MacArthur at arm’s length, but Roosevelt saw how he might tame MacArthur and use him for his own purposes, such as providing a degree of political cover with Republicans as he cut the army’s budget. It was during World War II that Roosevelt took his greatest gamble on MacArthur, putting him in charge of the U.S. offensive against Japan. In this absorbing and vivid account, Perry argues that the bet paid off. Without ever denying MacArthur’s flaws and mistakes, Perry revives the general’s reputation by carefully and positively appraising his role in some of the war’s key moments. Just as Roosevelt knew how to manage his most egotistical subordinates, so MacArthur, as Perry shows, relied on the quality of his combat commanders and his own ability to get the best out of them.