American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964

Manchester, William

Little, Brown, 1964

p. 171

In the late 1930s the Japanese were immigrating to and spying in the Philippines. Douglas MacArthur took note and began to study the Japanese. He concluded that the Japanese couldn’t be serious opponents in war. They were clowns: “They wrote backward and read backward. They built their houses from the roof down and pulled, instead of pushing, their saws. Their baseball announcers gave a full count as ‘two and three.’ Department store bargain basements were on the top floor. Japanese women gave men gifts on St. Valentine’s day. Papers were stapled in the upper right hand corner . . . Japanese murderers apologized to their victims’ families for messing up the house . . . . Their soldiers suited up in uniforms resembling badly wrapped brown paper parcels. The notion that they could shoot straight–let alone lick red-blooded Americans–was regarded in Manila as preposterous.” In Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream, p. 254: Americans didn’t take seriously the threat of an attack on Pearl Harbor because they had never taken the Japanese seriously. “They were such funny little men, with their thick spectacles, buck teeth, and bow legs.”