Title: The Emperor's General
Publisher: Broadway Books, New York
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Very Good +
Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good +
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: First Edition
First edition, stated; first printing, full number line. Signed by the author on the front endpaper: "James Webb." Quarterbound in black paper-covered boards with a red cloth, gold-lettered spine. Book is tight and square; small name stamp on the half-title page, else unmarked; corners sharp, spine ends bumped. The dust jacket is not price-clipped (original price $25.00); light edgewear at spine ends. Brodart protected. Bookseller Inventory # 004258
Synopsis: From the bestselling author of Fields of Fire comes a provocative novel of historical intrigue, gripping drama, and haunting romance suffused with the mystery and seduction of the Orient.
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 Two 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 fiancée 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 Philippines 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 and its eighty-three million inhabitants who, until then, were his blood enemies. 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. As Marsh undertakes the delicate task of opening a dialogue with the emperor, he becomes ensnared in a web of deceit, witnesses a grave injustice, commits a life-altering act of betrayal--and 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. It is the story of Japan's dominant ruling class manipulating the American occupiers as they enter an arcane country whose rules and traditions have always baffled Westerners; of frantic scrambling on both sides to assign accountability for aggression and war crimes that approached those of the Nazis; 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.
From the battlefields and command posts of the Philippines to the royal palaces and geisha houses of Japan, The Emperor's General is an extraordinary saga of a spellbinding chapter in American history.
Review: 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. Anderson
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