MacArthur's Coalition

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 Reviews
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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.

About the Author

Peter J. Dean is Professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor Education at the University of Western Australia. His many books include The Architect of Victory: The Military Career of Lieutenant-General Sir Frank Horton Berryman, Australia 1942: In the Shadow of War, and, most recently, as editor, Australia 1944–45: Victory in the Pacific.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series