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Loyalty First (Hardback)

The Life and Times of Charles A. Willoughby, MacArthur's Chief Intelligence Officer

Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Korean War

Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 25–30 photographs
ISBN: 9781636243498
Published: 31st July 2023



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Major General Charles A. Willoughby served as Douglas MacArthur's stalwart chief intelligence officer (G-2} for over a decade, throughout World War II and the Korean War. This first full biography examines Willoughby's shadowy origins in his native Germany, his curious arrival in the United States, and his military service in World War I, as well as his work during the interwar years as a junior diplomat, budding historian, and neophyte intelligence officer. His chance encounter with MacArthur in the mid-1930s would prove to be the genesis of a near-symbiotic relationship between the two, with significant consequences for both.


Throughout his life, Willoughby identified with strong, authoritarian leaders, notably Franco, and – especially – MacArthur. The author also assesses Willoughby's performance as a professional intelligence officer both in World War II and Korea, where he is often vilified for his inaccurate assessments of enemy strength and most likely courses of action, as well as his sycophantic relationship with his commander. Willoughby is most often criticised for his failing to foresee the entry of Chinese forces into the Korean War and its impact upon the US Army and the prosecution of the war. Following MacArthur’s removal by President Truman in 1951, Willoughby retired and spent the rest of his days engaged in right-wing political activity and in staunchly defending his much-maligned boss.


The legacy he left is one filled with lingering and important questions about loyalty to superiors, in civilian as well as military environments, how far that loyalty should extend, and walking the tightrope involved in telling truth to power.

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