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The Emperor's General
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Despite popular sentiments that World War II was in fact a good war, there was some disagreement about that immediately following the conflict. After the Marshall Plan and the 'democratization' of Japan, conspiracy mongers accused forces in the U.S. government of assisting our former enemies in rebuilding their economic powers at the expense of our national interest. At their worst, these suspicions aided the rise of McCarthyism; at their best, they give us snappy espionage novels such as James Webb's The Emperor's General, which speculates that Douglas MacArthur lost the peace by allowing Japan to regain its sphere of influence in the Pacific Rim.

This hypothesis is presented by the book's protagonist, Jay Marsh, an inexperienced captain serving as one of MacArthur's aides. Throughout the course of the novel, young Marsh suspects that the general is shielding Japan's imperial elite from war-crimes trials being undertaken by various military commissions. He soon sheds his na+'vete, becoming both seduced and appalled by the Japanese-U.S. alliance of global hegemony. Webb avoids the Grishamesque hit-and-run action sequences that sacrifice the 'reality' of many conspiratorial novels, making Marsh into MacArthur's doppelg+'nger, a character whose intense love of the East is entangled with a sense of compromised honor. The general's loss of the Philippines is matched with Marsh's betrayal of his Filipina fiancee, propelling all the characters towards their destiny. The fact that the U.S. secured its military objectives by protecting Japan's leaders should come as no surprise to the historically informed, but the all too human motivations that Webb gives to MacArthur's actions ought to keep the reader hooked to the last page. --John M. Anderson

Genre: War & Military
Published: Apr 1999
Publisher: Random House
ISBN13: 9780553456134
ISBN10: 055345613X