American Caesar (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
To many students of current history, the name William Manchester is inextricably linked with his two well-received studies of President John F. Kennedy: The Portrait of a President: John F. Kennedy (1962) and The Death of a President: November 20-November 25, 1963 (1967). Though he has written three novels as well as a collection of essays, Manchester is primarily known for his histories and biographies dealing with such subjects as the Krupps of Germany, H. L. Mencken, and the Rockefeller family. This most recent work, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964, represents the author’s finest biography to date, offering as it does a definitive and exhaustive account of five-star general Douglas MacArthur’s extraordinary life proceeding from the implicit thesis that this superb military leader’s contributions to American, Philippine, Japanese, and Korean history are in danger of being underestimated by future generations.
Following a standard biographical procedure, Manchester “begins before the beginning” by discussing the many accomplishments of Douglas’ father, Arthur MacArthur, who began an exemplary soldier’s career at the age of eighteen, joining the 24th Wisconsin regiment that stormed Missionary Ridge at the Civil War battle of Lookout Mountain. Later, after much service, Arthur was ordered to the West to fight marauding Indians; during this tour of duty, he married Pinky Hardy. Soon thereafter, in 1880,...
(The entire section is 1497 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Christian Science Monitor. LXX, October 23, 1978, p. B14.
Harper’s Magazine. CCLVII, October, 1978, p. 95.
Kirkus Reviews. XLVI, July 15, 1978, p. 792.
Los Angeles Times. October 1, 1978, “Books,” p. 1.
National Review. XXXI, January 5, 1979, p. 36.
New Republic. CLXXIX, September 30, 1978, p. 27.
New York Review of Books. XXV, October 12, 1978, p. 14.
Village Voice. XXIII, June 19, 1978, p. 83.
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