US and Australian Military Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, 1942-1945
Peter J. Dean
From 1942–1945 the Allies’ war in the Southwest Pacific was effectively a bilateral coalition between the United States and Australia under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. By charting the evolution of the military effectiveness of the US-Australian alliance, MacArthur’s Coalition puts the relationship between the United States and Australia at the center of the war against Japan.
Drawing on new primary source material, Peter J. Dean has written the first substantial book-length treatment of the coalition as a combined military force. This expansive and ambitious book provides a fresh perspective on the Pacific War by providing a close-up, in-depth account of operations in the Southwest Pacific from the Kokoda Trail campaign to the reconquest of the Philippines and Borneo. Dean’s work takes the reader deep into the key military headquarters in the Southwest Pacific and reveals the discussions, debates, and arguments between key commanders and staff officers during the course of planning and waging a monumental conflict. Drawing upon archival records across three continents, Dean brings the qualities of these senior officers to life by exploring the critical importance of personalities and leadership in overcoming cultural, doctrinal, and organizational divides in the largely unequal alliance. Set against the practicalities of fighting a fanatical enemy in some of the most inhospitable terrain in the war, his book shows how, despite these divides and MacArthur’s difficult personality, the US-Australian coalition was able to forge a highly effective and ultimately triumphant fighting machine.
“Dean has written an excellent book that provides a different perspective on MacArthur along with much information on Australia, its military and SWPA than many readers know. Dan has given a balanced treatment of MacArthur by letting MacArthur’s words and deeds speak for themselves along with the opinions of what appears to be a fairly selected set of his contemporaries. His writing is lively, especially in tracing arguments and battle scenes, and his scholarship is superb.”
—U.S. Military History Review
“In this fine piece of scholarship, Peter Dean moves seamlessly back and forth from the elevated levels of grand strategy—“national interest”—and strategic deliberation to the details of operational planning and tactical action. The result is a comprehensive account of the joint US-Australian campaign in the Southwest Pacific Area from 1942 to 1945.”
—H-Net ReviewsSee all reviews...
“An excellent read for anyone interested in the Pacific War or in command problems in a coalition.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium
“For an examination of the Southwest Pacific Area and of the roles and interactions of the Americans and Australians in command there, MacArthur’s Coalition is an excellent resource.”
—America in WWII
“MacArthur’s Coalition contains new insights into the military-to-military relationship between the United States and Australia during the Second World War. The author carefully examines the coalition from its ad hoc origins to its high point of cooperation and (sometimes) mutual respect in 1942–1943, into its decline in 1944–1945.”
—Peter Williams, author of The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and Reality
“Drawing upon a wide range of primary and secondary sources, Dean explores the long-neglected topic of Australian-American military cooperation during World War II. This highly original and superb book has much to say not only about how military strategy was created and executed but also about the important topic of alliance politics under the pressures of wartime conditions.”
—Kevin C. Holzimmer, author of General Walter Krueger: Unsung Hero of the Pacific War
“Peter Dean’s standout study of coalition warfare in the Southwest Pacific provides intriguing new perspectives on Australias outsize contributions to MacArthur’s campaigns. Dean’s fascinating multilevel analysis, anchored in extensive research across multiple archives, emphasizes the critical interplay of personalities from strategic through tactical echelons as well as the importance of intercultural communications as allies adapted to differing command cultures and military doctrines. This fresh reassessment of coalition leadership depicts MacArthur and his cohorts in the sweeping fashion they deserve.”
—Edward J. Drea, author of Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853–1945
“MacArthur’s Coalition provides a deeply researched, innovative, and authoritative study of how the United States and Australia fought together to achieve victory in the Second World War. The book holds important lessons for the conduct of present-day coalition operations—a key feature of modern warfare.”
—David Horner, emeritus professor, Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
“MacArthur’s Coalition is a superb work enormously extending our understanding of that controversial figure and those who served with him. It is deeply researched, vigorously narrated, and admirably evenhanded. It casts brilliant illumination over the full span of relationships from MacArthur and the heights of Australian political and military leadership down to the sharp edge where Australians and Americans confronted a formidable enemy.”
—Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese EmpireSee fewer reviews...
With its unprecedented view of the joint nature of operations in the Southwest Pacific and its focus on frontline commanders and units in forging a successful fighting force, MacArthur’s Coalition illuminates a critical aspect of the Allied victory in World War II.