Military History

The Army’s Pacific

The U.S. Army did 80 percent of the fighting against Japan, yet the Marines dominate popular histories. In an effort to restore the balance, John McManus, a professor of American military history, spotlights the Army’s role in first two years of the Pacific War.

Following a fine account of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (though it breaks no new ground) the author turns to the greatest defeat in American history. Hobbled by the Depression and a relatively tiny Army, American leaders agreed the distant Philippine Islands were indefensible. Anticipating the Japanese invasion, they planned a retreat to the trackless jungles of the Bataan Peninsula. Yet retreat was not in Philippine Department commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s vocabulary; he stoutly maintained that his combined American-Filipino forces would repel any invader. Two weeks after Pearl Harbor the Japanese arrived, parked their transports, loaded troops into barges and headed

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