The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War

The General vs the President MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War 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 Am

  • Title: The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War
  • Author: H.W. Brands
  • ISBN: 9780385540575
  • Page: 429
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 asFrom 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.

    One thought on “The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War”

    1. “We know what we are in for. The Americans can bomb us, they can destroy our industries, but they cannot defeat us on land…They may even drop atom bombs on us. What then? They may kill a few million people. Without sacrifice, a nation’s independence cannot be upheld.”- General Nieh Yen-jung, Chief of Staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army, to Indian Ambassador K.M. Panikkar, September 1950. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with f [...]

    2. In another of his wonderful pieces, H.W. Brands takes the reader into the world of the Korean War, alongside a battle that superseded that country's geographic and ideological fate. The true clash arose between the military and political wings of the United States, more specifically, General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry Truman. Opening the narrative, Brands provides the reader with context necessary to understand how both men reached their respective commands. MacArthur had been working [...]

    3. Interesting and informative look at the controversial decision to relieve Douglas MacArthur of command during the Korean War. Perhaps too much time was spent on the 'introductory' phase, but once the war began, the story picked up. MacArthur's ego certainly played a great part in what happened. In some ways, the situation reminded of that experienced between McClellan and Lincoln during the Civil War. MacArthur seemed to have the same contempt for the civilians who ran the government. Perhaps th [...]

    4. This is a great comparison study. Professor Brands is a master storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.After World War II MacArthur was extremely popular. The lessons he learned from WWII were absolute: appeasement leads to disaster, and a showdown with the communists was inevitable and as far as Douglas MacArthur was concerned the sooner the better. At the time, Truman was an unpopular president. Truman faced a struggling economy, a ruined Europe and increasing hostilities with the [...]

    5. On June 25, 1950 North Korea unleashed an attack against its southern neighbor that set off a war that resulted in 36,914 American casualties. Many Americans are aware of the role of General Douglas MacArthur in the conflict, in particular his brilliant, but risky landing at Inchon that beat back the North Korean attack, and later in the war pursuing a strategy that led to Chinese intervention. MacArthur’s actions were very controversial and once the Chinese crossed the Yalu River with over 10 [...]

    6. A detailed, readable and engaging history of Truman and MacArthur’s relationship. Brands treats Truman more favorably, but his treatment of both men is fair and evenhanded. Brands describes the course of the war and MacArthur’s attitude toward the possibility of Chinese intervention, as well as the schism between MacArthur on one side and the administration and the Joint Chiefs on the other, along with the Joint Chief’s apparent lack of concern for the possibility of MacArthur advancing no [...]

    7. This is the best way to learn historyad! "The General vs. The President" (H.W. Brands)#MustRead 5 parts, 68 chapters, 416 pages#MustListen audio book is alsoexcellent (15 hrs 22 min) Review

    8. Tells the story of Truman and MacArthur and the Korean war. How it nearly lead to WWIII and nuclear war but did in fact lead to Truman firing MacArthur under a storm of criticism. It surveys events in Korea and Washington as the world was on the brink of the abyss and how the leaders of the time muddled through this harrowing time. Good story.

    9. I had read Truman's biography by David McCullough many years ago. In fact, it was that very book that got me hooked on reading in my adult life (excellent book). However, prior to reading this book I had never read anything specifically about MacArthur. This author did a great job blending their two stories in the context of world affairs during one of the main Cold War battles, Korea in the 1950s. I really enjoyed reading this author because he convinced me MacArthur was totally justified in hi [...]

    10. A very good book, the author clearly comes down on Truman’s side of history, but overall a fair treatment of all parties. I am always amazed how many huge political decisions are more the result of personality than policy. As a bonus this is a quite good, but basic, primer of the conflict in Korea.

    11. Absolutely fantastic, Brands continues to be one of the best historians of our time. I will admit I was biased before reading this, but the light shed by Brands into the entire situation really allowed me to re-think my stance on Truman.

    12. A gripping account of the Korean conflict and the struggle between General MacAuthur and President Truman, with lots of inside information from writings of the many leaders involved.

    13. Excellent. This true story of the amazingly egotistical General MacArthur who ignored orders and did whatever he wanted to do and President Truman who held his temper and withheld action as long as possible is fascinating reading. The blended story of these two powerful men with very different backgrounds, styles and goals is compelling…and relevant reading for today’s world!

    14. I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and Doubleday, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would write a review and post it on Net Galley, , and my blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book because I am interested in American History and the Presidents in particular. I also have read several of H. W. Brands books and found them all to be enjoyable.This book did not disappoint. Like several other [...]

    15. Fascinating book that takes us back to the Korean War, Red Scare in America, and the firing of MacArthur by Truman over the running of Korea.The sad thing is the more I learn about MacArthur, the more I dislike the man and his pompous attitude towards his role as a high ranking General. But then again, Truman kind of circumvents events in his own way by not coming out and just dealing with it.Another interesting fact, is that Truman becomes the first President to by pass congress and sends troop [...]

    16. This was an extremely readable and engaging book! The author does a great job to introduce the causes of the Korean conflict, and tries to present the Truman-MacArthur battles in a non-biased manner only do you get to the last section and see his point: that Truman was right in firing MacArthur. This was, without a doubt, one of the best books I've read all year.

    17. Biased against MacArthur, with extensive self-serving quotes from Truman administration officials. While there can be no doubt MacArthur was insubordinate and almost certainly politically ambitious, a Medal of Honor recipient should have been invited to resign rather than summarily dismissed.

    18. SolidThis was a good read. Detailed without being cumbersome. Anyone with an interest in President Truman, General MacArthur, the Korean War or the immediate post war era will find this worthwhile.

    19. I really enjoyed this book all the way up to the pivotal moment when Truman removed MacArthur from his 5 separate commands. After that, the book meanders through detailed accounts of Congressional testimony about US progress, or lack thereof, in the Korean War, whether it was a good or bad thing that the US did not throw its full support behind the Chinese Nationalists in Formosa (Taiwan) and wage an all-out war against the Chinese Communists, and a host of other interesting debates that did not [...]

    20. This well written book provides a thorough examination of the first year of the Korean War, which began in June, 1950, with an invasion of South Korea by the North Korean army. Considering the current tensions that exist between the U.S. and North Korea, it is useful to become acquainted with the historical foundation of this crisis. After providing background information on both President Truman and General MacArthur, the book then jumps into an examination of the series of events that led to t [...]

    21. (Audiobook). A great read about one of the best political/military showdowns in US history. Two powerful, egotistical men who found themselves at odds with each other, even as both were on the same team opposing various international threats. The work takes a dual biographical track, following the lives of both MacArthur and Truman as each grew up and evolved into the figures of 5-Star general and US President (respectively). Once the Korean War starts, that is when the two men start their clash [...]

    22. America’s relationship with Communist China and North Korea remain hot topics in the news even some 67 years after the events described in this book. Author H. W. Brands takes us back to one of the most momentous episodes in our history; when North Korean aggression against our ally south of the 38th parallel prompted President Truman to appoint one of our most illustrious WWII generals, Douglas A. McArthur, to take charge of the UN troops to oppose this assault. When the Chinese entered the w [...]

    23. The Korean War is often referred to as "The Forgotten War," but the events leading to and through the first "police action" by the United States had ripple effects that are still felt today. Brands ability to tell the story of conflict, confusion, and hatred between one of the most celebrated Generals in the history of the American Army,Douglas MacArthur, and the 33rd President of the United States, Harry Truman. Brands takes the readers on a bumpy ride starting at the end of WWII through the Re [...]

    24. This book provides the sequence of events and details of exactly why President Truman fired Gen MacArthur during the Korean War. It is written with alternating chapters from each perspective, although Truman does come off as the more sympathetic actor. Once I realized the implications of MacArthur's intended course of action, to involve the US in a full-scale land war against Communist China, I am more thankful than ever for Truman. MacArthur was a vainglorious bastard, a very dangerous man. Mor [...]

    25. This was a fascinating story of the incidents that led to Truman famously firing MacArthur. Both men were full of conviction and refused to back down when they thought they were right. In hindsight, we probably should not have gone into Korea, at least on the UN terms. Had we done this on our own terms, there might have been more leeway for MacArthur to prosecute the war as he saw fit But Truman's hands were tied and there is evidence to suggest that the course he took was the right oneThat said [...]

    26. This might be Brands’ best work to date. His writing is always engaging, but in this case he has made an excellent historical narrative that, to me, really puts the reader into the mindset of two VERY different men. Sometimes I feel Brands plays favorites with his subjects and the story tends to be very one-sided, but not here. Both Macarthur and Truman are given their due, with Truman justifiably coming out on top without making MacArthur an easy villain. Brands tells an wonderful story of ho [...]

    27. In The General vs. the President, MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War, Bill Brands focuses on the conflict between General George MacArthur and President Harry Truman. I liked his high-level approach to this topic. Brands wrote short biographies of each man and also described the US political climate and world issues after World War II. However, his book's focus was on the issues and tensions during the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, as well as Truman's firing of MacArthur. My [...]

    28. Interesting account of FDR's "most dangerous man in America" vs. his Vice President. MacArthur's megalomania and disdain for politicians nearly led to World War 3 after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. Truman was forced to fight for the basic American principle of civilian control of the military, and Truman backed into a corner was a formidable opponent. MacArthur learned that too late.The interesting part of the book to me is the way the author assumes that the way things played out was t [...]

    29. Even though this book is a page turner, it still feels like 150 pages too long. In this book H.W. Brand argues that the Truman administration took a painstaking effort to contain the Korean War in Korea, instead of escalating the situation to another world war by letting the war spread else where, while General MacArthur wanted to essentially rollback communism in Asia while the US still could (in order to prevent another war). In the end, MacArthur was fired because he crossed the line. What is [...]

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