The General vs. the President: MacArtur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands (Doubleday, 2016) ISBN: 9780385540575, 398 pages, Hardcover $16.00, Kindle $14.99.
When I passed The General vs. the President on the shelf at my local library, I was interested in seeing if this was a good fit for bookshelf reviews since we haven't had a historic book in a few issues. But what made this a real page-turner for me was its timeliness in light of the recent nuclear tensions with North Korea.
The book takes place post World War II during a time when peace was considered rather fragile. North Korea had invaded South Korea, beginning the Korean War.
President Harry Truman managed to fend off the Northern invasion without evoking response from the Soviets, however provocation by General Douglas MacArthur had caused the Chinese to enter the fight in support of N. Korea. This escalated the situation, as the Chinese were allies with the Soviets--the only other nation who held the nuclear bomb.
The world was on edge, as newspaper headlines asked if World War III was on its way. Truman subsequently fired the General for his role in escalating the war, though of course there is much more history behind their relationship and the story certainly does not simply end there.
Truman was an unpopular president who turned into a great leader, but during the time was really unprepared for the presidency and was very...