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.

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

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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