- America and the Great War: 1914-1920 (1998) with Anne Sharpe Wells
- From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day: The American Armed Forces in World War II (1995) with Anne Sharpe Wells
- Refighting the Last War: Command and Crisis in Korea 1950-1953 (1992) with Anne Sharpe Wells
- A Time for Giants: The Politics of the American High Command in World War II (1987) with Anne Sharpe Wells
- The Years of MacArthur, Volume III (1986)
- Command Crisis: MacArthur and the Korean War (1982)
- The Years of MacArthur, Volume II: 1941-1945 (1974)
- The Years of MacArthur, Volume I: 1880-1941 (1974)
- South to Bataan, North to Mukden (1971)
- Antebellum Natchez (1968)
D. Clayton James was born in Winchester, Kentucky in 1931. As a young child, the family moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where James attended Natchez High School and graduated in 1949. He attended Southwestern in Memphis, graduating in 1953. James married Erlene Downs in 1953, and the couple had four children in the following eleven years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1956.
From 1954 to 1960, James served in churches in Texas and Kentucky. He earned his master’s degree in 1959 at University of Texas in Austin and his doctoral degree in 1964 at the same school.
James taught history at Louisiana State University from 1961 to 1964. He then went to Mankato State College in Minnesota where he taught history in 1964 for one year. In 1965, James became a professor of history at Mississippi State University in Starkville, where he remained for twenty-three years and in 1978 became a Distinguished Professor. In 1977, James served as an adviser on the movie MacArthur for Universal Studios. He consulted on the BBC television series: The Commanders in 1973.
Jamese also held the Harold K. Johnson Chair of Military History at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvani,a and the John F. Morrison Chair of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas. During that time, James was also a Harmon Lecturer at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 1988 he moved to Lexington, Virginia, to become the John Biggs Chair in Military History at the Virginia Military Institute uwhere he retired in 1996.
James published nine non-fiction books and authored many articles and chapters, primarily on World War II, the Korean War and their strategists. His first book, which was based on his dissertation, was Antebellum Natchez (1968). It was followed by the diary of General William Brougher, South to Bataan, North to Mukden (1971). He is best known for his three-volume biography of General Douglas MacArthur, published between 1974 and 1985. In fact, the third volume of The Years of MacArthur earned the Truman Book Award in 1986 and nominations for both the Pulitzer and Parkman prizes.
In 1988, James became the John Biggs Chair in Military History at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, where he remained until he retired in 1996. James died in Moneta, Virginia, in 2004.