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The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

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The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the #1 bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble, an epic history of the decline of American military leadership from World War II to Iraq

History has been kind to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—and less kind to the generals of the wars that followed. In The Generals, Thomas E. Ricks sets out to explain why that is. In part it is the story of a widening gulf between performance and accountability. During the Second World War, scores of American generals were relieved of command simply for not being good enough. Today, as one American colonel said bitterly during the Iraq War, “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

In The Generals we meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and those who failed themselves and their soldiers. Marshall and Eisenhower cast long shadows over this story, as does the less familiar Marine General O. P. Smith, whose fighting retreat from the Chinese onslaught into Korea in the winter of 1950 snatched a kind of victory from the jaws of annihilation.

But Korea also showed the first signs of an army leadership culture that neither punished mediocrity nor particularly rewarded daring. In the Vietnam War, the problem grew worse until, finally, American military leadership bottomed out. The My Lai massacre, Ricks shows us, is the emblematic event of this dark chapter of our history. In the wake of Vietnam a battle for the soul of the U.S. Army was waged with impressive success. It became a transformed institution, reinvigorated from the bottom up. But if the body was highly toned, its head still suffered from familiar problems, resulting in tactically savvy but strategically obtuse leadership that would win battles but end wars badly from the first Iraq War of 1990 through to the present.

Ricks has made a close study of America’s military leaders for three decades, and in his hands this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.

Review:

"Generations of inept, thoughtless, and unaccountable generals have authored disaster, according to this savvy study of leadership in the U. S. Army. Veteran defense journalist and bestselling author Ricks (Fiasco) contrasts the army of WWII, in which unsuccessful generals were often relieved of command, with later eras, in which officers were untouchable despite epic failures (few generals were relieved during the Iraq War, he notes). Nowadays, Ricks contends, citing an officer in Iraq, a private who loses his rifle, is punished more than a general who lost his part of a war.' Combining lucid historical analysis, acid-etched portraits of generals from 'troublesome blowhard' Douglas MacArthur to 'two-time loser' Tommy Franks, and shrewd postmortems of military failures and pointless slaughters such as My Lai, the author demonstrates how everything from strategic doctrine to personnel policies create a mediocre, rigid, morally derelict army leadership. Ricks's preoccupation is America's difficulty coping with guerilla wars from Vietnam to Iraq, and the flip side of his critique of bad leadership is a belief that good officers with innovative, politically adroit counter-insurgency tactics might have won those conflicts. His faith in the ability of great generalship to redeem any misadventure can sometimes seem naïve. Still, Ricks presents an incisive, hard-hitting corrective to unthinking veneration of American military prowess. Agent: Andrew Wylie. (Oct. 30)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

An epic history of the decline of American military leadership—from the #1 bestselling author of Fiasco

Thomas E. Ricks has made a close study of Americas military leaders for three decades, and in The Generals, he chronicles the widening gulf between performance and accountability among the top brass of the U.S. military. While history has been kind to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—it has been less kind to others, such as Koster, Franks, Sanchez, and Petraeus. Ricks sets out to explain why that is. We meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and generals who failed themselves and their soldiers. In Rickss hands, this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.

Synopsis:

Coming from The Penguin Press in February 2009, Thomas E. Ricks's The Gamble

Thomas E. Ricks 's #1 New York Times bestseller, Fiasco, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq. Now Ricks has picked up where Fiasco left off-Iraq, late 2005. With more newsbreaking information, including hundreds of hours of interviews with top U.S. officials who were on the ground during the surge and beyond, The Gamble is the natural companion piece to Fiasco, and the two are sure to become the definitive examinations of what ultimately went wrong in Iraq.

About the Author

Thomas E. Ricks is The Washington Post's senior Pentagon correspondent, where he has covered the U.S. military since 2000. Until the end of 1999, he held the same beat at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for seventeen years. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams for national reporting, he has reported on U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of Making the Corps and A Soldier's Duty.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE: Captain William DePuy and the 90th Division in Normandy, summer 1944

PART I

WORLD WAR II

1. General George C. Marshall: The leader

2. Dwight Eisenhower: How the Marshall system worked

3. George Patton: The specialist

4. Mark Clark: The man in the middle

5. “Terrible Terry” Allen: Conflict between Marshall and his protégés

6. Eisenhower manages Montgomery

7. Douglas MacArthur: The general as presidential aspirant

8. William Simpson: The Marshall system and the new model American general

PART II

THE KOREAN WAR

9. William Dean and Douglas MacArthur: Two generals self- destruct

10. Army generals fail at Chosin

11. O. P. Smith succeeds at Chosin

12. Ridgway turns the war around

13. MacArthur’s last stand

14. The organization man’s Army

PART III

THE VIETNAM WAR

15. Maxwell Taylor: Architect of defeat

16. William Westmoreland: The organization man in command

17. William DePuy: World War II– style generalship in Vietnam

18. The collapse of generalship in the 1960s

  • a. At the top
  • b. In the field
  • c. In personnel policy

19. Tet ’68: The end of Westmoreland and the turning point of the war

20. My Lai: General Koster’s cover-up and General Peers’s investigation

21. The end of a war, the end of an Army

PART IV

INTERWAR

22. DePuy’s great rebuilding

23. “How to teach judgment”

PART V

IRAQ AND THE HIDDEN COSTS OF REBUILDING

24. Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and the empty triumph of the 1991 war

25. The ground war: Schwarzkopf vs. Frederick Franks

26. The post– Gulf War military

27. Tommy R. Franks: Two- time loser

28. Ricardo Sanchez: Over his head

29. George Casey: Trying but treading water

30. David Petraeus: An outlier moves in, then leaves

EPILOGUE: Restoring American military leadership

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

NOTES

INDEX

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594204043
Author:
Ricks, Thomas E
Publisher:
Penguin Press
Author:
Ricks, Thomas E.
Subject:
Military - Other
Subject:
Military - United States
Subject:
Military - General
Subject:
Military-General History
Subject:
Military-US Military General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 8-pp bandw inserts + maps
Pages:
576
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today Used Hardcover
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Product details 576 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594204043 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Generations of inept, thoughtless, and unaccountable generals have authored disaster, according to this savvy study of leadership in the U. S. Army. Veteran defense journalist and bestselling author Ricks (Fiasco) contrasts the army of WWII, in which unsuccessful generals were often relieved of command, with later eras, in which officers were untouchable despite epic failures (few generals were relieved during the Iraq War, he notes). Nowadays, Ricks contends, citing an officer in Iraq, a private who loses his rifle, is punished more than a general who lost his part of a war.' Combining lucid historical analysis, acid-etched portraits of generals from 'troublesome blowhard' Douglas MacArthur to 'two-time loser' Tommy Franks, and shrewd postmortems of military failures and pointless slaughters such as My Lai, the author demonstrates how everything from strategic doctrine to personnel policies create a mediocre, rigid, morally derelict army leadership. Ricks's preoccupation is America's difficulty coping with guerilla wars from Vietnam to Iraq, and the flip side of his critique of bad leadership is a belief that good officers with innovative, politically adroit counter-insurgency tactics might have won those conflicts. His faith in the ability of great generalship to redeem any misadventure can sometimes seem naïve. Still, Ricks presents an incisive, hard-hitting corrective to unthinking veneration of American military prowess. Agent: Andrew Wylie. (Oct. 30)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
An epic history of the decline of American military leadership—from the #1 bestselling author of Fiasco

Thomas E. Ricks has made a close study of Americas military leaders for three decades, and in The Generals, he chronicles the widening gulf between performance and accountability among the top brass of the U.S. military. While history has been kind to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—it has been less kind to others, such as Koster, Franks, Sanchez, and Petraeus. Ricks sets out to explain why that is. We meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and generals who failed themselves and their soldiers. In Rickss hands, this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.

"Synopsis" by ,
Coming from The Penguin Press in February 2009, Thomas E. Ricks's The Gamble

Thomas E. Ricks 's #1 New York Times bestseller, Fiasco, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq. Now Ricks has picked up where Fiasco left off-Iraq, late 2005. With more newsbreaking information, including hundreds of hours of interviews with top U.S. officials who were on the ground during the surge and beyond, The Gamble is the natural companion piece to Fiasco, and the two are sure to become the definitive examinations of what ultimately went wrong in Iraq.

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