Douglas MacArthur was many things to many people, including himself. His professional record speaks for itself: He was the youngest combat general in the First World War when, in France, his bravery earned him two Distinguished Service Crosses and seven Silver Stars—the U.S. Army’s second and third highest honors for valor, respectively. Afterward, he became the youngest superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and in turn the youngest chief of staff of the U.S. Army. His valor and service led him to become one of only four five-star generals in U.S. history.
MacArthur’s personality was complex, an astonishing contradiction in both the Army and in his life—dedicated, innovative, courteous, charming, and brilliant, absolutely fearless. He was also arrogant, eccentric, abrasive, flamboyant, and imperious.
He was a killer who also hated killing. In combat he was unrelenting, and yet went to great extremes to keep his men from harm. He was a brilliant organizer, which led to his becoming chief of staff, and he was as well a peacemaker, which his service in occupied Japan demonstrated.