New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 547 pages. $6.75.
When all of the participants in the strange politico-military drama identified by the name of General MacArthur shall have passed from the scene, and the passions it has engendered will have followed them to the grave, we may get to the bottom of the plot. It will then be known why a general and his armies were sent by his political superiors into battle for the purpose of either losing it or, at least, not winning it. Was it political miscalculation, sheer bungling, or was it confusion touched with a bit of treason?
Among the books which the cool historians of the future will have to use as source material will be MacArthur His Rendezvous with History, written by the general’s aide and confidant during the Pacific Wars, Maj. Gen. Courtney Whitney. This is quite obviously a eulogy by a close friend. And yet, it is so replete with documentary evidence of what went on in the troublous days between Australia and Korea that the book cannot be passed over as sheer idolatry. There is too much meaning for that in the dispatches between field headquarters and Washington, heretofore unpublished, and the course of events have so vindicated the prognostications of the general that one is inclined to ask whether the politicians who opposed him were blind or vicious, regardless of Gen. Whitney’s opinions.
Until history can pass unbiased judgment, the book will serve as good reading. It is about a man, a man of great military genius (even his enemies are compelled to admit that), a man of principle and the moral courage to back up his convictions. That makes the story interesting. And, despite the long quotes that the author felt impelled for historical reasons to include, it is written in a lucid style; one learns to skip the quotations (the first sentence or two give the meaning of the whole passage), and then one has a tale as vivid as fiction. It is hard to put the book down once you have started to read it.