The author of "Tora! Tora! Tora!" stood among his 450 rosebushes and talked of war and roses.

A history professor at the University of Maryland, Dr. Gordon W. Prange remembered events that took place many years ago and made it all sound like yesterday.

About a month after Japan's surrender, Dr. Prange joined MacArthur's staff as chief historian with the G-2 section in Tokyo.

Of the roses, he said the hot summer had been hard on them. But the war and occupation of Japan fared better in his thoughts. It was 32 years ago today that the Japanese high command stood with heads slightly bowed in surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

A big, warm man at 67, Prange had enough work planned and the energy to keep him busy for another three score years.

When wars with Japan and Korea are discussed, a controversial name that can still wreck a dinner party or start a barrom brawl has to come up: Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The current film about the general's military career, "MacArthur," was running ninth this week in a survey of about 20 cities.

How did Prange feel about him?

"MacArthur was a brilliant man; he represented a symbol of resistance to the Japanese when one was badly needed.

"He was dramatic with a tremendous sense of timing."

Prange felt that one of the most important things MacArthur ever did in his life was to marry Jean Faircloth.

"She was one of God's great noble women."

"She went out to meet the Japanese. He, on the other hand, was aloof. They called him the 'Five Start Mikado.

MacArthur, according to Prange, had close to 100 per cent loyalty from his staff.

"The one mistake the people around MacArthur made was to try and present him as a supreme human who never made mistakes."

It was on a Wednesday afternoon in April 1951 when Prange sat in his office and heard that Truman had removed MacArthur from command.

"I was astounded at the time. Terribly distraught, ver disturbed. I thought Truman made a great mistake.

"I thought he could let Ridgeway fight the war in Korea and let MacArthur continue in Tokyo.

"Since that time I realize that Truman had no other decision to make.

"He was the Commander-in-Chief and MacArthur was insubordinate. if one of MacArthur's men did that to hiM, why, he would cut his head off."

"One thing that got in MacArthur's way was his extreme ego. In Japan he let his ego get the best of him when he sent his 8th Army almost to the Yalu. That was the flamboyance of MacArthur. Sometimes his ego clouded his judgment."

Prange, like a lot of historians, has clean waste baskets and shelves cluttered with papers, books, and folders. His study is full of more information on Pearl Harbor than can be found any other place in the world.

On a dining room table, among many manuscripts he is preparing for publication sits a beautiful bound book of "Tora! Tora! Tora!" printed in Japanese.

Prange can speak about 80 per cent Japanese but cannot read it. During his five years serving as a historian he sent to the University of Maryland 450 large crates of every book, magazine or other publication printed during the occupation.

To help gather the documents Prange had a whole group of Japanese ex-army and navy officers who were employed in the historial section of G-2.

The crates were sent over as ballast on ships, and the freight from California to the University of Maryland was paid by the university.

He is proud of the collection, noting that "scholars come from all over to use the collection for study."

The surrender marked the beginning of the occupation of Japan that would last six years and become the only example of a Western culture attempting to completely change - economically, politically and socially - the structure of an Asian nation.

In all the years he worked for MacArthur, Prange had only one long private session with the general.

"It was a two-hour session where I briefed him about the book project.

"I talked for about 50 minutes and he sat there, a gentleman from the tips of fingers to his toes."

When Prange gets tired of writing books, reading papers and preparing lectures he puts on old clothes and goes out to crawl among his 450 rose bushes.

"Look," he said proudly, "there isn't a weed among them."

Then he pointed out a 9-foot-tall rose bush. "That's Mr. Lincoln. I had a Japanese friend here just the other day admiring them. But the summer has been tough on them."