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At the height of the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman committed a gaffe that sent shock waves around the world. When asked by a reporter about the possible use of atomic weapons in response to China's entry into the war, Truman replied testily, "The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has." This suggested that General Douglas MacArthur, the willful, fearless, and highly decorated commander of the American and U.N. forces, had his finger on the nuclear trigger. A correction quickly followed, but the damage was done; two visions for America's path forward were clearly in opposition, and one man would have to make way. Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Heir to a struggling economy, a ruined Europe, and increasing tension with the Soviet Union, on no issue was the path ahead clear and easy. General MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The lessons he drew from World War II were absolute- appeasement leads to disaster and a showdown with the communists was inevitable--the sooner the better. In the nuclear era, when the Soviets, too, had the bomb, the specter of a catastrophic third World War lurked menacingly close on the horizon. The contest of wills between these two titanic characters unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of a faraway war and terrors conjured at home by Joseph McCarthy. From the drama of Stalin's blockade of West Berlin to the daring landing of MacArthur's forces at Inchon to the shocking entrance of China into the war,The General and the Presidentvividly evokes the making of a new American era. From the Hardcover edition.
From master storyteller and historian H. W. Brands comes the riveting story of how President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur squared off to decide America's future in the aftermath of World War II. At the height of the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman committed a gaffe that sent shock waves around the world. When asked by a reporter about the possible use of atomic weapons in response to China's entry into the war, Truman replied testily, "The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has." This suggested that General Douglas MacArthur, the willful, fearless, and highly decorated commander of the American and U.N. forces, had his finger on the nuclear trigger. A correction quickly followed, but the damage was done; two visions for America's path forward were clearly in opposition, and one man would have to make way. Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Heir to a struggling economy, a ruined Europe, and increasing tension with the Soviet Union, on no issue was the path ahead clear and easy. General MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The lessons he drew from World War II were absolute: appeasement leads to disaster and a showdown with the communists was inevitable--the sooner the better. In the nuclear era, when the Soviets, too, had the bomb, the specter of a catastrophic third World War lurked menacingly close on the horizon. The contest of wills between these two titanic characters unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of a faraway war and terrors conjured at home by Joseph McCarthy. From the drama of Stalin's blockade of West Berlin to the daring landing of MacArthur's forces at Inchon to the shocking entrance of China into the war, The General and the President vividly evokes the making of a new American era. From the Hardcover edition.
From master storyteller and historian H. W. Brands, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, comes the riveting story of how President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur squared off to decide America's future in the aftermath of World War II. At the height of the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman committed a gaffe that sent shock waves around the world. When asked by a reporter about the possible use of atomic weapons in response to China's entry into the war, Truman replied testily, "The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has." This suggested that General Douglas MacArthur, the willful, fearless, and highly decorated commander of the American and U.N. forces, had his finger on the nuclear trigger. A correction quickly followed, but the damage was done; two visions for America's path forward were clearly in opposition, and one man would have to make way. Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Heir to a struggling economy, a ruined Europe, and increasing tension with the Soviet Union, on no issue was the path ahead clear and easy. General MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The lessons he drew from World War II were absolute: appeasement leads to disaster and a showdown with the communists was inevitable--the sooner the better. In the nuclear era, when the Soviets, too, had the bomb, the specter of a catastrophic third World War lurked menacingly close on the horizon. The contest of wills between these two titanic characters unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of a faraway war and terrors conjured at home by Joseph McCarthy. From the drama of Stalin's blockade of West Berlin to the daring landing of MacArthur's forces at Inchon to the shocking entrance of China into the war, " The General and the President" vividly evokes the making of a new American era."
A new, definitive life of an American icon, the visionary general who led American forces through three wars and foresaw his nation’s great geopolitical shift toward the Pacific Rim—from the Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of Gandhi & Churchill Douglas MacArthur was arguably the last American public figure to be worshipped unreservedly as a national hero, the last military figure to conjure up the romantic stirrings once evoked by George Armstrong Custer and Robert E. Lee. But he was also one of America’s most divisive figures, a man whose entire career was steeped in controversy. Was he an avatar or an anachronism, a brilliant strategist or a vainglorious mountebank? Drawing on a wealth of new sources, Arthur Herman delivers a powerhouse biography that peels back the layers of myth—both good and bad—and exposes the marrow of the man beneath. MacArthur’s life spans the emergence of the United States Army as a global fighting force. Its history is to a great degree his story. The son of a Civil War hero, he led American troops in three monumental conflicts—World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Born four years after Little Bighorn, he died just as American forces began deploying in Vietnam. Herman’s magisterial book spans the full arc of MacArthur’s journey, from his elevation to major general at thirty-eight through his tenure as superintendent of West Point, field marshal of the Philippines, supreme ruler of postwar Japan, and beyond. More than any previous biographer, Herman shows how MacArthur’s strategic vision helped shape several decades of U.S. foreign policy. Alone among his peers, he foresaw the shift away from Europe, becoming the prophet of America’s destiny in the Pacific Rim. Here, too, is a vivid portrait of a man whose grandiose vision of his own destiny won him enemies as well as acolytes. MacArthur was one of the first military heroes to cultivate his own public persona—the swashbuckling commander outfitted with Ray-Ban sunglasses, riding crop, and corncob pipe. Repeatedly spared from being killed in battle—his soldiers nicknamed him “Bullet Proof”—he had a strong sense of divine mission. “Mac” was a man possessed, in the words of one of his contemporaries, of a “supreme and almost mystical faith that he could not fail.” Yet when he did, it was on an epic scale. His willingness to defy both civilian and military authority was, Herman shows, a lifelong trait—and it would become his undoing. Tellingly, MacArthur once observed, “Sometimes it is the order one disobeys that makes one famous.” To capture the life of such an outsize figure in one volume is no small achievement. With Douglas MacArthur, Arthur Herman has set a new standard for untangling the legacy of this American legend. Praise for Douglas MacArthur “This is revisionist history at its best and, hopefully, will reopen a debate about the judgment of history and MacArthur’s place in history.”—New York Journal of Books “Unfailingly evocative . . . close to an epic . . . More than a biography, it is a tale of a time in the past almost impossible to contemplate today as having taken place, with MacArthur himself as a figure perhaps too remote to understand, but all the more important to encounter.”—The New Criterion “With Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior, the prolific and talented historian Arthur Herman has delivered an expertly rendered, compulsively readable account that does full justice to MacArthur’s monumental achievements without slighting his equally monumental flaws.”—Commentary From the Hardcover edition.
Douglas MacArthur towers over twentieth-century American history. His fame is based chiefly on his World War II service in the Philippines. Yet Korea, America's forgotten war, was far more "MacArthur's War" -- and it remains one of our most brutal and frightening. In just three years thirty-five thousand Americans lost their lives -- more than three times the rate of losses in Vietnam. Korea, like Vietnam, was a breeding ground for the crimes of war. To this day, six thousand Americans remain MIA. It was Korea where American troops faced a Communist foe for the first time, as both China and the Soviet Union contributed troops to the North Korean cause. The war that nearly triggered the use of nuclear weapons reveals MacArthur at his most flamboyant, flawed, yet still, at times, brilliant. Acclaimed historian Stanley Weintraub offers a thrilling blow-by-blow account of the key actions of the Korean War during the months of MacArthur's command. Our lack of preparedness for the invasion, our disastrous retreat to a corner of Korea, the daring landing at Inchon, the miscalculations in pursuing the enemy north, the headlong retreats from the Yalu River and Chosin Reservoir, and the clawing back to the 38th parallel, all can be blamed or credited to MacArthur. He was imperious, vain, blind to criticism, and so insubordinate that Truman was forced to fire him. Yet years later, the war would end where MacArthur had left it, at the border that still stands as one of history's last frontiers between communism and freedom. MacArthur's War draws on extensive archival research, memoirs, and the latest findings from archives in the formerly communist world, to weave a rich tale in the voices of its participants. From MacArthur and his upper cadre, to feisty combat correspondent Maggie Higgins and her fellow journalists, to the grunts who bore the brunt of MacArthur's decisions, for good and ill, this is a harrowing account of modern warfare at its bloodiest. MacArthur's War is the gripping story of the Korean War and its soldiers -- and of the one soldier who dominated the rest.
Harry Truman was a man of common sense and uncommon insights. In this frank book, the thirty-third president of the United States speaks directly about the office of the presidency, about the best and worst presidents, and his own experience holding office. Nearly every page contains a "Trumanism" - an unexpected insight, a little-known anecdote, or a pithy piece of wisdom. His topics range from "do-nothing presidents" to the way he felt military service undermined a leader's ability to command a country to his admiration for Abraham Lincoln. Truman writes about moments in presidential history with a warmth and sincerity that brings figures from George Washington to Franklin Roosevelt to life. Willing to write frankly about his decision to drop the atomic bomb, but humble about his own impact on history, Truman offers a unique perspective on American history.

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