Gen. Douglas MacArthur was involved in some of the most important military
and foreign policy issues of the last century, but a Missouri S&T historian
says he may be better remembered for his theatrics than his military prowess.
In a new book by Dr. Russell D. Buhite, the controversial MacArthur is
The book, titled “Douglas MacArthur: Statecraft and Stagecraft in America’s
East Asian Policy,” follows the general’s military career from successes like
overseeing the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II and planning the
United Nations invasion at Inchon during the Korean War, to his ego-driven
downfall from grace.
“It’s not enough to emphasize his ego, as many have done — there was a real
pathology there. I believe psychologists would term it ‘malignant narcissism,’”
says Buhite, a professor in the history and political science department. He
notes that civilian officials who dealt with MacArthur on a regular basis spoke
candidly about his behavior. Buhite says several became “openly contemptuous of
MacArthur’s publicity-seeking self aggrandizement.”
Buhite’s book also discusses the volatile relationship MacArthur had with
presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. “Both presidents found
MacArthur troublesome not only because of his political connections to powerful
Republicans in the United States, but also because of his inclination to flout
presidential authority.” Truman eventually removed the general from command for
MacArthur repeatedly sought, but never achieved, the Republican party’s
nomination for president. Buhite says he was distraught when another prominent
military officer, Dwight D. Eisenhower, won the nomination and the
Buhite says he wanted to write a “concise and accessible study of
MacArthur.” He portrays MacArthur as a complex personality whose notoriety was
primarily driven by his self-promotion and grandstanding, rather than actual
feats. Buhite says that although the general was an accomplished military
figure, particularly in his dealings with Japan and Korea, most of the
attention he received was undeserved and overblown.
Buhite is the author of 10 previous books and numerous articles on American
foreign policy. He is a professor of history at Missouri S&T and served as
dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the university from 1997 to 2002.
Buhite taught for 25 years at the University of Oklahoma, serving 10 years as
chair of the history department, and was head of the history department at the
University of Tennessee.