Douglas MacArthur
220px-MacArthur Manila.jpg
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1880
Date of Death: 1964
Cause of Death: Natural causes - biliary cirrhosis
Occupation: Soldier
Parents: Arthur and Mary MacArthur
Spouse: Louise Cromwell Brooks (divorced 1929)
Jean Marie Faircloth
Children: Arthur
Military Branch: United States Army (1903-1937, 1941-1952, World War I, World War II,);
Philippine Army (1937-1941)
Political Party: Republican Party
Political Office(s): Military Governor of Japan
Fictional Appearances:
The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Bombs Away
Type of Appearance: Direct
Military Branch: US Army (World War III)

Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 - April 5, 1964) was an American general. He served in three wars (World War I, World War II, and the Korean War), played a prominent role in the Pacific Theater of World War II, oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945-1951, and lead United Nations forces in the defense of South Korea from North Korea until he was relieved by President Harry Truman in 1951, a move that proved controversial for the beleaguered president.

Douglas MacArthur in The Hot War[]

Douglas MacArthur was overall commander of the the UN forces during the Korean War. Thanks to a mixture of misread intelligence and his own hubris, MacArthur made a number of decisions that helped escalate the Korean War into World War III.

In November 1950, Chinese troops intervened on the side of North Korea and thoroughly destroyed three divisions of American forces between the Chosin Reservoir and Hungnam, the worst defeat American forces had seen since the Battle of Bataan during World War II. MacArthur had previously received intelligence that the Chinese might intervene, but had dismissed those reports, and convinced President Harry Truman that the reports were groundless.[1]

MacArthur flew to Honolulu on December 18, 1950 to meet with Truman. While MacArthur didn't quite admit he'd been wrong when he assured Truman that the Chinese would not intervene, he did acknowledge that they were attacking and would continue to mass along the Yalu River until China itself was attacked. When Truman pointed out that B-29s weren't doing as well during this war as they had during World War II, MacArthur suggested atomic weapons might make the difference if they were used on cities in Manchuria to disrupt the Chinese supply line.

Truman then wondered if Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union would retaliate against U.S. allies should the U.S. bomb Manchuria. MacArthur dismissed these concerns, arguing that the USSR did not have sufficient atomic weapons to do so. He also argued that U.S. atomic weapons could be used in the case of a Soviet invasion of West Germany. Despite his misgivings, Truman authorized MacArthur to use atomic weapons if it was the only way to improve the situation. Truman admitted that if the three divisions in North Korea has been successfully evacuated from Hungnam, he would not have considered the atomic option.[2]

In January 1951, pits were delivered to Korea and installed in all weapons already present.[3] A few weeks later, Truman transferred the final decision making to MacArthur, authorizing the general to use them if, in MacArthur's view, their use was the only way to improve the situation. The situation had certainly worsened, as the Chinese had relentlessly marched south throughout December and into January, recapturing Seoul, the South Korean capital.[4] On January 23, 1951, at MacArthur's order, the U.S. dropped several bombs on strategic points in Manchuria.[5]

Despite MacArthur's assurances, the Soviet Union did respond to the U.S. bombing by attacking Western Europe. Within weeks, World War III broke out.

While MacArthur was a hero to many in the U.S., Truman personally had little use for him. Indeed, as the war raged for the next year and a half, Truman had many opportunities to regret listening to MacArthur, although Truman, to his credit, accepted responsibility for all of his decisions. For his part, MacArthur vanished from public view as the war raged on.

Douglas MacArthur in "News From the Front"[]

"News From the Front"
POD: December 8, 1941
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references

On December 22, 1941, it was reported by The New Yorker that, even though General Douglas MacArthur knew Japan had attacked Hawaii, American planes in the Philippines were still on the ground when Japan attacked there next.[6]

In March 1942, many in the American media (including the San Francisco Chronicle) thought MacArthur's promise to return to the Philippines leading a counter-attack was a hollow one. The press also called into question President Franklin D. Roosevelt's hope that MacArthur would lead an invasion to retake the Philippines.[7]

Douglas MacArthur in Days of Infamy[]

Days of Infamy
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
Appearance(s): Days of Infamy
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference

Mitsuo Fuchida thought about General Douglas MacArthur as he contemplated the rumors of the American fighters being caught on the ground in the Philippines. He remembered that people had said that MacArthur was supposed to be a good commander, but Fuchida concluded that if he'd ever been caught by surprise like MacArthur had been, he would've committed seppuku.[8]

Douglas MacArthur in The War That Came Early[]

The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Appearance(s): The Big Switch;
Coup d'Etat
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
Date of Death: 1941
Cause of Death: Killed in a bombing raid
Military Branch: US Army (World War II)

In the winter of 1940, Douglas MacArthur returned to the United States Army as general[9] after a stint in the Filipino army as a field marshal.[10] He was in command when Japan attacked in January 1941.[11] MacArthur publicly announced "We shall prevail."[12]

However, MacArthur was killed in a bombing raid that spring, and the Philippines fell to the Japanese in short order.[13]

Douglas MacArthur in Joe Steele[]

Douglas MacArthur was one of the few senior officers that President Joe Steele hadn't purged in the 1930s. With war breaking out in Europe and continuing into 1941, MacArthur was in the Philippines helping the natives build up an army. Meantime, the Empire of Japan were taking parts of China and northern Indochina. This threatened the Philippines so Steele imposed an oil and scrap metal embargo along with freezing Japanese assets in the U.S. to put pressure on them to stop their aggressions.[14]

Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Both
Type of Appearance: Direct (novel)
Contemporary reference (story)
Date of Death: 1942
Cause of Death: Execution by firing squad

The Japanese attempted to negotiate but refused to back down when Steele demanded they leave China.[15] Instead, they launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and invasion of the Philippines and British Malaya. A day later, they surprised MacArthur by bombing his aircraft on the ground at Clark Field outside Manila.[16] MacArthur followed doctrine and had his garrison and Filipino forces retreat to the Bataan Peninsula to deny the Japanese the use of the Manila harbor. Unfortunately, the attack on Pearl Harbor damaged and sank too many U.S. ships preventing MacArthur's forces being relieved which was also part of the planning.[17]

Steele was displeased with MacArthur and tried to get him to return to the U.S. ostensibly to be given a new command. MacArthur refused, claiming he wished to face the same fate as his soldiers. Eventually Steele had General George Marshall order MacArthur to return. MacArthur did so via a PT boat pick-up and then a B-17 to Honolulu. From there he flew to San Diego and then traveled by train to Washington. He was arrested at the train station by Captain Lawrence Livermore, faced a military tribunal and convicted of negligence and incompetence and then executed. Unlike others, MacArthur didn't appeal his sentence.[18]

Literary Comment[]

In the short story, Douglas MacArthur (1880-1942) had already made President Steele suspicious with his flamboyance. When MacArthur fled the Philippines in the face of Japanese invasion, Steele had him tried and executed for treason.

See Also[]


  1. Bombs Away, pg. 5, ebook.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 5-9.
  3. Ibid., pg. 25.
  4. Ibid., pg. 38.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 55-61.
  6. See,e.g., Atlantis and Other Places, pg. 83.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 95-96.
  8. Days of Infamy, pg. 146.
  9. The Big Switch, pg. 396.
  10. Ibid., pg. 305.
  11. Ibid., pg. 397.
  12. Ibid., pg. 400
  13. Coup d'Etat, pg. 120, HC.
  14. Joe Steele, pgs. 234-235, HC.
  15. Ibid, pg. 243-244.
  16. Ibid, pgs. 245-249.
  17. Ibid, pg. 256.
  18. Ibid, pgs. 257-260.
Military offices
Preceded by
Samuel Escue Tillman
Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
Fred Winchester Sladen
Preceded by
Charles P. Summerall
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Malin Craig
Preceded by
New office
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), Japan
Succeeded by
Matthew Ridgway