David Halberstam: Slate says he succumbs to the great man theory of history in his book about KoreaHistorians in the News
The reader who remembers Halberstam's earlier polemic might expect The Coldest Winter to be a renewed attack on the American establishment, an account of how big ideas like "containment" got us into pointless losing wars almost from the start. It isn't. This time, Halberstam (who died in a car crash last spring) has a more exciting story to tell than one about mere national security groupthink. His protagonist is a real-live villain—one of the most bizarre and colorful figures in recent American history, the general whom Harry Truman once peevishly referred to as "Mr. Prima Donna, Brass Hat, Five Star MacArthur."
Anyone who doubts that great events pivot on quirks of personality has only to compare Douglas MacArthur with the cast of The Best and the Brightest. He was more of a martinet than McNamara, more of a bully than Johnson, a more mesmerizing speaker than Kennedy. He considered Washington and Lincoln his intimate personal advisers and surrounded himself with flunkies who called him "the greatest man in history." (Others called him, for his foppish scarves, "the fighting dude.") Most important, MacArthur was the general in a million who could turn the war in Korea around with one victorious stroke—the super-risky landing at Inchon—only to overreach, suffering a stunning and totally unnecessary defeat at the hands of the Chinese less than three months later....
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Arnold A Offner - 9/26/2007
NacArthur was all the things charged by Truman and others....and he was highly careless in the way he ahd U.S./U.N. forces advace into North Korea towared China's border.
But truth to be told, the decision to go north of the 38th parallel and to attempt to destroy the North Korean regime came from the State Department and the NSC and was approved by President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson. They were responsible for the failed effort at "liberation," whatever MacArthur's sins.
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