Title: Truman and MacArthur: Adversaries for a Common Cause
Author: Donald J. Farinacci
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Bill McDonald
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0557409020
The author's purpose in writing this book was to tell a story of events which occurred during a brief but momentous period in American history, involving two extraordinary men, President Harry S. Truman and General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur. The story tells of their interaction during a time of grave national crisis, how they veered badly off course and ultimately collided head-on. It was a collision which both altered the course of history and irreparably changed their personal destinies.
What is related here is first and foremost a human story, but one that plays out against the panorama of the Korean War--a nasty, brutish and fearsome slice of hell where what was at stake was nothing less than the determination of whether the Communist Sino-Soviet alliance would gain dominion by force over large regions of the continent of Asia or be contained and held in check by a coalition of United Nations Forces led by the United States.
As the drama unfolded during a critical period of approximately ten months in 1950 and 1951, the all-pervasive tension holding the principal players in its grip was the ever-present threat of nuclear war looming over all of humankind.
Other larger-than-life personalities also emerge in this epic tale and are interspersed with the two main characters. They include Eighth Army Commander Matthew B. Ridgway, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall, South Korean President Syngman Rhee, NATO Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ambassador Averell Harriman, Army General Walton W. Walker, Marine General O.P. Smith, Army Chief of Staff J. Lawton Collins, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley, and Marine Colonel "Chesty" Puller. Every one of them played an integral role in the drama and some of them such as Ridgway, Acheson, Marshall and Eisenhower actually changed the course of history. But, the overarching giants of this tale are Truman and MacArthur. Their saga of 1950-1951 underscores the fact that no matter what the magnitude of events, history is still primarily a collection of stories about people.
This is one of those stories--one that is part of the larger framework of the forty-five year-long Cold War, but one that is surpassed in importance by none other in that singularly perilous epoch of world history.