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Bill Thayer

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MacArthur Close‑Up
Much Then and Some Now
Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Addleman Ganoe
Foreword by
Major General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert M. Danford
(Former chief of Field Artillery, U. S. Army, Ret.)

The Author and the Work

A 1907 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Addleman Ganoe, as can be gathered from a close reading of his entry in Cullum's Register and is more explicitly stated in his own self-written obituary in Assembly linked there, made his career to a large extent in writing and teaching history; and for two years he was Gen. MacArthur's Adjutant at the Point, thus in constant intimate working contact with the controversial figure. Shortly before Col. Ganoe died, he published this book of reminiscences which, as he took pains to point out in his preface, is a factual account; but as the reader will very quickly see, he also worshipped the ground MacArthur walked on, and we have an apologia from a man who fell under his spell.

[p5] Foreword

When one reads the biographical sketch of a great man he often wonders how much of the tale is true, and how much of it is mere embellishment by an overly enthusiastic author.

While it is correct to say that Colonel Ganoe is a skilled and vivid writer,​a it happens that he and I, working together on the same team, and in an atmosphere of rare loyalty and harmony, lived through the events he so well describes in this book. In other words, I remember the many incidents he describes, and can therefore voice support of their truth and accuracy and that they are not overdrawn.

Here is the portrait of a man whom Ganoe and I can only regard as our greatest living American. It covers a period when that man, as a youthful Brigadier, was developing and gaining stature to reach his subsequent exalted place in the history of our country.

When General MacArthur assumed his duties as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy on June 12, 1919, he was thirty-nine years of age. This meant that he was younger, with one exception, than any other Superintendent since Sylvanus Thayer. The exception was General Thomas H. Ruger, who in 1871, at the age of thirty-eight, was made Superintendent of his alma mater, and like MacArthur, had a brilliant combat record behind him.

But General Ruger's problems were not comparable to those faced by MacArthur. The former had a going institution with all four classes, and small ones, whereas MacArthur had, in effect, only yearlings and plebes, and a corps that had outgrown its quarters. Ruger had to carry on, while MacArthur had to build and restore. He did this under the grave handicaps and difficulties so well described by the author. That he succeeded brilliantly has been amply proved by the passing of time.

Thus, as an example, many graduates felt that the "Two-Year Class" of 1920 could not possibly be up to standard. But [p6]MacArthur's brilliant leader­ship, both in person and as filtered down to the class through the loyalty, interest and hard work of inspired young officers of the Tactical and Academic Departments, seems adequately to have met the challenge, for in World War II this class gave to our armies fifty-three one‑, two‑, three‑ and four‑star generals. This approximated one out of every three members of the class still in service when the war broke out. The remaining two‑thirds of the class, almost one hundred percent, became colonels who held highly important command and staff assignments during the war. The class has also produced a record of four professors serving (in 1960) on the Academic Board of the Academy. Thus, MacArthur's first graduated class, pronounced handicapped at the time, has proved itself to be a great class.

And as another example, MacArthur originated the idea of, and established, intramural athletics. This was achieved in spite of rather violent vocal opposition of influential officers in high positions. But intramural athletics proved a great success. They have endured uninterruptedly to the present time, and now hold a secure and important place in the West Point curriculum.

It was my rare good fortune to serve as MacArthur's Commandant of Cadets. In that capacity I saw and was closeted with him almost every working day, in the dedicated effort by both of us to enhance the discipline, the instruction, the appearance and the morale of the corps. About three months after the arrival of MacArthur, one of the periodic and regrettable hazing investigations proved necessary. It was the last and the only one that occurred during MacArthur's administration, for discipline by "firmness, kindness and justice" soon became the undeviating doctrine of control. Time-honored customs of West Point, featuring for the most part immaculate appearance, courtesy and proto­col, were preserved and fostered. They were taught, however, by soldierly deportment and conduct rather than by the tyranny, abuse or arrogance of upper classmen toward lower classmen — something that almost inevitably creeps in with hazing.

After my daily session with MacArthur, it was habitual for me to discuss matters with Ganoe, for it was on him and on [p7]me that usually fell the privilege and duty of carrying out the Superintendent's wishes, decisions or instructions.

I had known MacArthur for three years as a cadet. In that time, I had watched him go from First Corporal to First Captain, and had become well aware of his rare intellectual brilliance. The corps' respect and admiration for him were so pronounced that his cadet honors seemed conspicuously merited. Now for three years I served him as Commandant of Cadets. During that time my admiration, respect and even affection for him constantly increased to the point where I look back on this period as the most rewarding and cherished of my entire service.

I have been honored to serve under many officers whom I regarded as great leaders. None of them could I rate as superior to MacArthur in this great soldierly attribute — perhaps none as his equal. His was a gifted leader­ship, a leader­ship that kept you at a respectful distance, yet at the same time took you in as an esteemed member of his team, and very quickly had you working harder than you had ever worked before in your life, just because of the loyalty, admiration and respect in which you held him. Obedience is something a leader can command, but loyalty is something, an indefinable something, that he is obliged to win. MacArthur knew instinctively how to win it.

Leaders — real leaders — are sorely needed in every walk of our American life, be it military, industrial, political or social. Colonel Ganoe has painted in this book the portrait of a rare and gifted leader, one whose qualities, characteristics and methods can profitably be pondered by anyone who aspires to, or has been placed in, a position of responsible leader­ship.

Robert M. Danford
Major General United States Army,

New York City

March 25, 1962

Thayer's Note:

a I regret this was just too much for me to let pass. Vivid, often, yes; but Col. Ganoe often writes very poorly, sometimes at the limits of comprehensibility (see for example this paragraph on pp168‑169). Since he taught English at West Point, not infrequently wrote for magazines, and even wrote a manual titled English of Military Communications, I'm at a loss to explain it. Maybe he himself gave us the best clue in the obituary he wrote for himself (at West Point Association of Graduates), where he states that he wrote the book and "laid it away" — but eventually went on to publish it at the very end of his life: it seems most charitable to assume he didn't reread all of it, or at least not thoroughly; I hope that when I'm in my eighties I'll get some rest, too.

[p11] Contents

Foreword by Maj. Gen. Robert M. Danford
Why I Wrote This

The Crash


The Intruder




Lions in the Way


The Invasion


The Old Order Changeth


The Warm Carpet


The Cold Carpet




Athletics Curriculum


The Faculty Wall


Gentle Cleavage of the Wall


Bucking Traditions of a Century


The New Order Cometh


The Closer Touch


The Dogged Rebellion


The Inside of MacArthur




The Revelations


The Unholy Hegira


The Blow


The Long Gap


The Man


The MacArthur Tenets


Technical Details

Edition Used, Copyright

The edition followed in this transcription was that of my own copy of the first edition, Vantage Press, 1962. The copyright was not renewed in 1989 or 1990, as then required by law in order to be maintained, and the work is thus in the public domain; details here on the copyright law involved.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The book was well proofread, with almost no typographical errors. My few corrections are all therefore very minor, and merely marked by a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

Thruout the book, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: A photograph of a uniformed man, profile left, seen from the waist up, holding a riding crop tucked under his left arm, and a small unidentifiable object (a cigar, it turns out) in his right hand. On this site it serves as the icon for William Addleman Ganoe's book 'MacArthur Close‑Up'.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a cropped version of the photo used on the book's cover, which in turn is a simplified and edited version of a photograph taken of General MacArthur in the doorway of a military headquarters in France in 1918; in the original photograph, in addition to the riding crop in his left hand (which seems to have been completed by the jacket designer), he can be seen holding a cigar in his right. The photograph is old enough to be in the public domain, and I've attached a copy here.

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Site updated: 22 Jun 16