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Douglas MacArthur and Hubris

Borneman, Walter. MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific. New York: Little, Brown, 2016.

Brands, H.W. The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War. New York: Doubleday, 2016.

Dallek, Robert. Harry S. Truman. New York: Times Books, 2008.

Hamby, Alonzo L. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Herman, Arthur. Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior. New York: Random House, 2016.

Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964. New York: Back Bay, 2008.

McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Perrett, Geoffrey. Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life and Legend of Douglas MacArthur. New York: Random House, 1996.

Perry, Mark. The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur. New York: Basic Books, 2014.

CENTRAL QUESTION: Can a hero sometimes fall because of a character flaw related to pride?


  • Write the word “hubris” on the board. Discuss, as a class, what it might mean. Allow the students to look up the definition if they are unfamiliar with the word. Then, post the following definition:

    To show excessive pride or vanity, arrogance, or conceit that usually brings about a downfall.

  • Explain that the ancient Greeks are generally credited with creating our understanding of hubris and the fall of the tragic hero from greatness in their epic poetry and drama. However, the literature of many different civilizations and the texts of many different religions also warn against the dangers of pride. Ask students for real and fictional examples of hubris and write them next to the definition.

This optional introductory activity is designed to support you in the classroom. However, the primary narratives and photos in the section that follows can be used with or without this introduction.