Synopses & Reviews
Douglas MacArthur famously said there is no substitute for victoryand#160;.and#160;.and#160;.
and#160;As a United States general, he had an unparalleled genius for military strategy, and it was under his leadership that Japan was rebuilt into a democratic ally after World War II. But MacArthur carried out his zero-sum philosophy both on and off the battlefield. During the Korean War, in defiance of President Harry S. Truman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he pushed for an aggressive confrontation with Communist Chinaandmdash;a position intended to provoke a wider war, regardless of the cost or consequences.and#160;MacArthurandrsquo;s ambition to stamp out Communism across the globe was in direct opposition to President Truman, who was much more concerned with containing the Soviet Union than confronting Red China. The infamous clash between the two leaders was not only an epic turning point in history, but the ultimate struggle between civil and military power in the United States. While other U.S. generals have challenged presidential authorityandmdash;from Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War and George B. McClellan in the Civil War to General Stanley A. McChrystal in Afghanistanandmdash;no other military leader has ever so brazenly attempted to dictate national policy.and#160;In MacArthurandrsquo;s War
, Bevin Alexander details MacArthurandrsquo;s military and political battles, from the alliances he made with Republican leaders to the threatening ultimatum he delivered to China against ordersandmdash;the action that directly led to his dismissal on April 11, 1951.
andldquo;Bevin Alexanderandrsquo;s Macarthurandrsquo;s War
is a superbly written, blow-by-blow account of the most controversial civil-military clash in American history. His riveting narrative pulls no punches as it reveals how the feisty U.S. president confronted Americaandrsquo;s most revered military hero against the backdrop of brutal Korean War combat.andrdquo;andmdash;Colonel Jerry D. Morelock, Ph.D., U.S. Army (ret.), and editor in chief of Armchair General
andnbsp;andldquo;When President Harry Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of all his military commands at the height of the Korean War, it was a seminal moment in American historyandhellip;Bevin Alexanderandrsquo;s hard-hitting nararative captures in vivid detail the elements of that contest, as well as the chain of significant events that produced itandhellip;MacArthurandrsquo;s War is a valuable account of a chapter in the Cold War that we must never forget.andrdquo;andmdash;Harry J. Middleton, founding director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas, and author of LBJ: The White House Years
and#8220;A very interesting account of Douglas MacArthurand#8217;s initial brilliant Inchon assault, his strategy and tactics that led to rapid advances before his concepts for capturing and freeing North Korea collapsed in defeat, and finally his resort to political confrontation with the president...fascinating, factual, and well-documentedand#8230;overall, a fair portrayal of history.and#8221;and#8212;General Frederick J. Kroesen, former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army and commander in chief, U.S. Army Europe
and#8220;Bevin Alexander has written a stirring and insightful account of General Douglas MacArthurand#8217;s controversial role in the Korean War that culminated . . . in one of the most dramatic incidents in American military history.and#8221;and#8212;Carlo Dand#8217;Este, author of Patton: A Genius for War
and#8220;Bevin Alexanderand#8217;s Macarthurand#8217;s War is a superbly written, blow-by-blow account of the most controversial civil-military clash in American history. His riveting narrative pulls no punches as it reveals how the feisty U.S. president confronted Americaand#8217;s most revered military hero against the backdrop of brutal Korean War combat.and#8221;and#8212;Colonel Jerry D. Morelock, PhD, U.S. Army (ret.), and editor in chief of Armchair General
and#8220;When President Harry Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of all his military commands at the height of the Korean War, it was a seminal moment in American historyand#8230;Bevin Alexanderand#8217;s hard-hitting narrative captures in vivid detail the elements of that contest, as well as the chain of significant events that produced itand#8230;MacArthurand#8217;s War is a valuable account of a chapter in the Cold War that we must never forget.and#8221;and#8212;Harry J. Middleton, founding director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas, and author of LBJ: The White House Years
Retired history professor Pearlman (US Army Command and General Staff College) revisits the history of President Harry Truman's relationship with General Douglas MacArthur during the critical years 1945-51, culminating in Truman's controversial decision to fire MacArthur in April 1951. Pearlman's thoughtful, comprehensive survey of the intertwined relationship of "policy, politics, and personality" offers fresh insights into US military strategy, Truman's controversial Far Eastern policy, the politics of McCarthyism, and the internal and public debate over Truman's Korean War policy. Based on extensive research into accessible primary sources and the relevant secondary literature, this skillful if densely written monograph is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Truman's presidency and, as importantly, on the bitter political debate over Truman's limited war strategy in the conduct of the Korean War. Fleshing out the differing personalities of these two prominent national leaders, Pearlman recounts how both men shaped and were shaped by the evolving crisis in US-Soviet and US-Chinese relations during the early Cold War years. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --ChoiceA. Theoharis, emeritus, Marquette University, March 2009
"... the author has researched his subject extensively, frequently displays a fine sense of irony, and has produced probably the best study of this subject to date." --The Weekly Standard, February 23, 2009 Indiana University Press
"Pearlman understands far better than most the underlying and widespread consequences of the clash between two highly motivated and somewhat egotistical giants. He rightly places the debate between MacArthur and Truman into the larger context... of the questions of civilian and constitutional authority, much like those being raised now about the war in Iraq." --Paul Edwards, Director, Center for the Study of the Korean War Indiana University Press
"Pearlman's thoughtful, comprehensive survey of the intertwined relationship of "policy, politics, and personality" offers fresh insights into US military strategy, Truman's controversial Far Eastern policy, the politics of McCarthyism, and the internal and public debate over Truman's Korean War policy. Based on extensive research into accessible primary sources and the relevant secondary literature, this skillful... monograph is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Truman's presidency and, as importantly, on the bitter political debate over Truman's limited war strategy in the conduct of the Korean War.... Recommended." --Choice, March 2009
"[T]he book is among the best civil military histories to come out in the last 10 years.... It deserves a wide, adult readership and has my highest recommendation for military and cilvilian professionals of all stripes." --Military Review
"... this book is something of a rarity among academic publications these days: great man history, history from above. Truman and MacArthur is a reminder of just how compelling such history can be--especially in the hands of someone who knows what he is about. Michael Pearlman certainly fits the description." --PARAMETERS : US Army Senior Prof Jrnl, Summer 2009
"... a well-researched, familiar story which provides historians with a comprehensive look into the swirl of controversy surrounding Truman's decision to remove MacArthur from command in Korea." --Thomas W. Zeiler, Journal of Military History, October 2008
"Michael Pearlman's timely study of the Truman-MacArthur controversy is a carefully researched and original work of scholarship that expertly illuminates the treacherous terrain of civil-military relations in the United States." --Pacific Affairs, Fall 2009
"Drawing on a lifetime of study and research, Michael Pearlman expertly analyzes the relationship between President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, demonstrating how policies, politics, and personalities entwined to shape their confrontation. He deftly places that confrontation within the context of grand strategy, military operations, history, culture, and domestic politics, portraying with verve and color the panorama of conflict in East Asia during a critical period of American history." --Colonel (Retired)Donald W. Boose, Jr., author of U.S. Army Forces in the Korean War.
"... a first-rate research effort by a distinguished historian, writing in a lively style... of considerable value and interest to students of the period." --Naval War College Review, August 2008
"... represents a useful addition to the literature on the Korean War." --Journal of American History
A timely account of an explosive conflict over civil-military relations and the conduct of American foreign policy
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.
About the Author
Bevin Alexander has published numerous works of military history, including the international bestseller How Hitler Could Have Won World War II. With honor degrees from The Citadel and Northwestern University, Alexander was awarded the Commendation Medal for his service as a combat historian in the Korean War, where he also won three battle stars for action at the front. He has appeared often on special programs on the History, Discovery, and Military channels. He has provided testimony before the House Committee on International Relations, advised the Rand Corporation on military strategy, and taken part in a war game at the Army War College.and#160;
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
1. Truman and MacArthur, before Korea
2. Defense Policy on the Eve of the Korean War
3. The War against North Korea: From Commitment to the Pusan Perimeter
4. The War against North Korea: From Inchon to the Yalu River
5. The War against China: Winter 1950 to Spring 1951
6. Truman Fires MacArthur
7. Public Verdict and Consequences: Military and Political, Home and Abroad
8. Ending the War without Truman or MacArthur
9. Truman and MacArthur: Summary, Conclusion, and Postscript