MacArthur’s War

Sunday , 24, November 2019 3 Comments

I am always up for a fiction or non-fiction alternate World War 2 in the Pacific treatment. I have written about Rising Sun Victorious here and have read alternate history novels by Harry Turtledove and William R. Forstchen & Newt Gingrich where things go even more wrong for the U.S.

                MacArthur’s War by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson was a chance find last week at a thrift store. This is a Forge paperback from 2007. Niles and Dobson have written some D&D modules. Niles has written some Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels.

                The two have written two alternate history novels of World War 2 where Hitler is killed.  Himmler gets an armistice with Stalin.

                MacArthur’s War has a departure point where the U.S. loses the Battle of Midway. Two aircraft carriers are sunk, one damaged. The Japanese lose one carrier with two damaged. They call off the invasion of Midway Island. Gen. Douglas MacArthur lobbies to take over command of the Pacific. He is given all the Solomon Islands including the upcoming Guadalcanal campaign.

                There is no central Pacific campaign by Nimitz through the Marshall Islands and Mariana Islands.  Admiral Yamamoto is not killed either but made a war minister. MacArthur gets all the support for his campaign across New Guinea to the Philippines. Luzon in the Philippines is invaded by MacArthur in mid-1944 instead of January 1945.

                MacArthur invades the southern-most island of Kyushu in Japan in March 1945 (Operation Coronet) which goes badly. The Americans lose hundreds of ships to kamikaze plans, rockets, and midget submarines. He has the invading Marines and Army soldiers pull back to a large enough perimeter for the minimum number of airfields needed for Operation Olympic, the invasion of Honshu.

                There is no atomic bomb as a mishap in Los Alamos vaporizes the complex. Patton gets command of an armored corps designed as a decoy far to the north of Tokyo. A typhoon delays MacArthur’s main invasion around Tokyo. Patton makes a dash to the capital. Meanwhile a Japanese Army officer conspiracy is afoot against the Emperor Hirohito who decides to make peace.

                This was a good novel. Dobson and Niles did their research. I did not spot any big mistakes or even little mistakes.

                Their portrayal of MacArthur was spot on with his dismissal of intelligence and details. Gen. Richard Sutherland, MacArthur’s Chief of Staff is given special treatment as a jealous, grasping, petty character (which he was). They even had MacArthur’s probable breakdown on the morning of December 8, 1941 which probably happened.

                The war in Europe is barely mentioned and appears to be the same as our timeline. There is no mention of the Soviets attacking Manchuria and Korea as happened.

                Niles has an alternate history of the Cuban Missile Crisis that I might check out in the future.

                I think I have this in the past. All the alternate histories of the Pacific war have things going even more wrong for the U.S. and allies. I want to see a treatment where thing go wrong for Japan at the outset. Someone had written a long one for a discussion group where the British hold Malaya and then push the Japanese back in Thailand.

                I want to see counterfactuals where the U.S. fleet is not caught in Pearl Harbor, Sunday morning, December 7th.  An intriguing item mentioned in If the Allies Had Fallen is aircraft carries are very vulnerable at night. A foiled Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor with the planes scrambled, in the the air, and anti-aircraft batteries manned and ready combined with a night attack by a cruiser task force that night has possibilities.

I want to see a more prepared American Army that had not been starved by Roosevelt all through the 1930s but brought up to authorized strength as part of the New Deal. I want to see a trained Philippine Army that did not run when the Japanese landed at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, December 21, 1941. I want to see the American planes not caught on the ground at Clark Field. I want to see the RAF giving air cover to the Prince of Wales and Repulse.      

                Just like I would like to see a treatment where the French pressed home an attack on the Siegfried Line in September 1939 and push into Germany. Or Stalin has his forces ready for defense, not for the attack on Hitler as he probably had planned for later in 1941.

3 Comments
  • MegaBusterShepard says:

    I could go for an Alt WW2 where the US was more prepared tbh. Would make for a nice change of pace…

  • deuce says:

    “Niles has written some Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels.”

    I’d always heard that Niles knew his WWII stuff. I’ve never read any of that. What I have read are a couple of his “Celtic” Moonshae novels for TSR. Total and utter crap. I had a better grasp on the various Celtic cultures when I was 15. The feel and details are totally off. I would say he needs to stick to WWII.

  • roo_ster says:

    Not sure why the USA would ever invade Japan, as embargo would starve them out.

    I’d like to see an alternate history where the Austrian Corporal does not declare war on the USA and the USA puts everything into its war with Japan.

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