CRF Blog

Retreat and Advance

by Bill Hayes

In Retreat and Advance for the New York Times Book Review, Lynne Olson reviews two books on Douglas MacArthur: Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan by Seymour Morris Jr. and The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur by Mark Perry.

Nonetheless Roosevelt gave him the assignment. When Japan surrendered in August 1945 after the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman, who despised MacArthur, felt he had no option but to name him supreme commander of the Allied occupation. Despite everything that had gone before, it was an inspired choice. Given virtually complete control, the autocratic, aloof MacArthur came to be regarded as a demigod by the Japanese, who could relate to his imperial personality far more easily than could his American colleagues. In return, he showed an uncharacteristic sensitivity in his dealings with both Japanese officials and citizens, believing, as he told the White House adviser Robert Sherwood, that if they were treated liberally and with dignity, “we shall have the friendship and cooperation of the Asian people far off into the future.”

Instead of trying Emperor Hirohito, who was considered a deity by his people, as a war criminal, MacArthur chose to keep him as constitutional monarch. [more]

For a free related classroom lesson, see Truman, MacArthur, and the Korean War from  CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive.