1997. Jay Marsh, Wall Street millionaire and grand old man of the diplomatic corps, takes a sentimental journey to the scene of his first triumphs and agonies, Manila, where as a brash young captain during World War II he served as aide-de-camp and confidant to General Douglas MacArthur. Marsh sees beyond the glittery capital of today to the horrifying days of 1945. The retreating Japanese army had devastated everything in its wake.
The city was set ablaze and one hundred thousand innocents were slaughtered. Marsh was forced to leave behind his Filipino fiancee and accompany MacArthur to Japan. Now, as the senior statesman stands in the serene garden of the ambassador's residence, his mind reels back in time--.
In the final days of the war in the Pacific, the Phillippines are retaken by the Allies under the command of General MacArthur, paving the way for Japan's surrender. But for MacArthur, victory over Japan is only a stepping stone to greater glory: supreme rule over the conquered country. MacArthur enlists Captain Marsh to be his emissary to the imperial government, a mission that takes the junior officer into the shadow world of postwar Tokyo, and into a web of deceit as he discovers shocking truths about MacArthur the world was never meant to know.
Masterfully written and highly evocative, The Emperor's General is the story of MacArthur's bold and calculating transition from wartime general to "American Caesar," and of his enormous ego, his personal demons, and the glaring miscalculations he made in bargaining with the Japanese. And, in the person of narrator Jay Marsh, it is the all too human story of a young man's bitter coming of age-and of the conflicting demands of duty, honor, and love.
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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 naïveté, 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 doppelgänger, 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 fiancée, 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. AndersonFrom the Back Cover:
"A rich, sweeping epic of a novel...an absolute winner."
"Powerfully compelling and moving...historical fiction of a high order...hypnotic storytelling...mesmerizing."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This compelling, fascinating exercise of historical fiction proves, again, that Jim Webb is as fine a novelist as he was a Marine. Enough said."
--George F. Will
"James Webb offers it all...a page-turning tour de force that examines our morality and makes us question what we ourselves would have done."
--Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook and Message in a Bottle
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Book Description Penguin, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M014027832X
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