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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 he 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. At a time when the Soviets, too, had the bomb, the specter of a catastrophic third World War lurked menacingly close on the horizon. 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. 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 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."
Truman and MacArthur offers an objective and comprehensive account of the very public confrontation between a sitting president and a well-known general over the military's role in the conduct of foreign policy. In November 1950, with the army of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea mostly destroyed, Chinese military forces crossed the Yalu River. They routed the combined United Nations forces and pushed them on a long retreat down the Korean peninsula. Hoping to strike a decisive blow that would collapse the Chinese communist regime in Beijing, General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Far East Theater, pressed the administration of President Harry S. Truman for authorization to launch an invasion of China across the Taiwan straits. Truman refused; MacArthur began to argue his case in the press, a challenge to the tradition of civilian control of the military. He moved his protest into the partisan political arena by supporting the Republican opposition to Truman in Congress. This violated the President's fundamental tenet that war and warriors should be kept separate from politicians and electioneering. On April 11, 1951 he finally removed MacArthur from command. Viewing these events through the eyes of the participants, this book explores partisan politics in Washington and addresses the issues of the political power of military officers in an administration too weak to carry national policy on its own accord. It also discusses America's relations with European allies and its position toward Formosa (Taiwan), the long-standing root of the dispute between Truman and MacArthur.
A general history of the critical first year of the Korean War, this study deals primarily with relations between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry S. Truman from June 1950 to April 1951, a period that defined the war's direction until General Mark Clark, the final U.N. Commander, signed the Armistice two years later. Although the ever-changing military situation is outlined, the main focus is on policymaking and the developing friction between Truman and MacArthur. Wainstock contradicts the common view that MacArthur and Truman were constantly at odds on the basic aims of the war. In the matter of carrying the fight to Communist China, MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs differed only on timing, not on the need for such action. The end of the Cold War has provided historians with a better opportunity to study the forces that shaped the thinking of America's leaders at the time of the Korean War. The sheer quantity of material now available, while daunting, is filled with colorful and outstanding personalities, dramatic action, and momentous actions that have had an impact on world events even to the present day. Wainstock ultimately concludes that Washington placed too much emphasis on anti-Communist ideology, rather than long-term national interest, in the decision first to intervene in the war and later to cross the crucial 38th Parallel. He also emphasizes the important contributions of General Matthew B. Ridgway in stopping the Chinese offensive and in influencing Washington's decision not to carry the war to Communist China.
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.
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.

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