The New Guinea campaign has gone down in history as one of General Douglas MacArthur’s shining successes. Now Stephen Taaffe has written the definitive history of that assault, showing why it succeeded and what it contributed to the overall strategy against Japan. His book tells not only how victory was gained through a combination of technology, tactics, and army-navy cooperation but also how the New Guinea campaign exemplified the strategic differences that plagued the Pacific War, since many high-ranking officers considered it a diversionary tactic rather than a key offensive.
MacArthur’s Jungle War examines the campaign’s strategic background and individual operations, describing the enormous challenges posed by jungle and amphibious warfare. Perhaps more important, it offers a balanced assessment of MacArthur’s leadership and limitations, revealing his reliance on familiar battle plans and showing the vital role that subordinates played in this victory. Taaffe tells how MacArthur manipulated the complex New Guinea campaign in service of his ultimate goal-to return to the Philippines. He also discloses how MacArthur frequently deceived both his superiors and the public in order to promote his own agenda and examines errors the general would later repeat on a larger scale through the Korean War.
MacArthur’s Jungle War offers historians a more analytical treatment of the New Guinea campaign than is found in previous works, and is written with a dramatic flair that will appeal to military buffs. By revealing the interaction among American military planning, interservice politics, MacArthur’s generalship, and the American way of war, Taaffe’s account provides a clearer understanding of America’s Pacific war strategy and shows that the New Guinea offensive was not a mere backwater affair but a critical part of the war against Japan.