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The General vs. the President Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

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 UN 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 vs. the President vividly evokes the making of a new American era.

©2016 H. W. Brands (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Scott Brick's narration shines as he delivers Brands's detailed account of the ultimate battle for military control between a struggling President Truman and a rogue General MacArthur.... Thanks to the talents of narrator and author, a broad audience will find this a riveting listen that goes beyond the simple historical facts to reveal the real men who, for a brief time, controlled the fate of the world." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    St Comgall Bangor, Co Down. UK 05/07/2017
    St Comgall Bangor, Co Down. UK 05/07/2017 Member Since 2013
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    "Thoroughly gripping"

    I enjoyed this from the moment I began listening to the preface. Anyone with interest in 20th century history will enjoy hearing about the relationship between Truman and MacArthur. Many will know something of Truman but MacArthur was a surprise. What a character. Overall a great book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boobie 26/04/2017
    Boobie 26/04/2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    18
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    "Excellent - Had Me Hooked In Five Minutes"
    Would you listen to The General vs. the President again? Why?

    This is an excellent combination of factual history and the more personal, subjective outlooks of the two protagonists.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The General vs. the President?

    The chapter covering Truman's 1948 election win was very well done.


    What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Scott Brick is always reliable and gets the nuances of a text just right. I wish more narrators were as good.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, just maintained my interest very well and made me regret when it ended.


    Any additional comments?

    I shall sample Mr. Brands' other work on this basis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Crowther 22/10/2016
    Carol Crowther 22/10/2016
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    REVIEWS
    31
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    "A masterpiece of compelling listening"

    I found this audio book totally absorbing. As much a page turner as any Clancy-type thriller.
    Very well written and brilliantly narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Jean
    Santa Cruz, CA, United States
    11/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Vivid Dramatic Accounting"

    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 Soviet Union. Senator Joseph McCarthy was in full swing and he had a hostile divided Congress. Also, Truman had to deal with Stalin’s blockade of West Berlin with the airlift of food. Then the Korean War began.

    Brands reveals the contest of wills between these two strong characters against the backdrop of the Korean peacekeeping action, the drama with Stalin and the entrance of China into the Korean conflict triggered by MacArthur. The critical conflict between the two was the civilian rule over the military, which MacArthur defied.

    This is a well written and meticulously researched comparison study of two of American leaders during the Korean War. Truman thought MacArthur was egotistical, reckless, lacked foresight and was willing to use nuclear weapons. MacArthur thought Truman was like all politicians, spineless, afraid and corrupt. Brands reveals both the strong and weak points of each man. MacArthur did wonders in Japan, but was extremely naïve about global geopolitics; and Truman did wonders in Europe, but was in over his head and made some mistakes. The book has some flaws. I noted some inaccurate statements; for example, Brands states that Truman and Treasury Secretary John Snyder, whom he consulted on MacArthur’s firing, “had served together in WWI”. They actually met at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1928. I enjoyed the Senate hearings of the Army particularly that of General Marshall. The book reads like a novel, is easy to read but has lots of critical detail.

    Scott Brick does an excellent job narrating the book. Brick is an actor, writer and award winning audiobook narrator.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Rosemary
    Greenwich, CT, United States
    22/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb history, well read"

    This book is a winner. A visit to a forgotten time whose lessons we should heed now. So well organized, edited and spoken!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • robert
    04/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well written and balanced"

    One not only learns about the 2 protagonists but also the military and
    Political environment in which they operated



    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Raymond Chase
    20/03/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Terrific!"

    This book had me captivated throughout the entirety of duration. This was an excellent expose on General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry. Truman. I strongly recommend this book!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hunter
    05/12/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very interesting "

    Very interesting and well written.
    There is one misquote I think I heard though.
    I way be mistaken, but I believe the quote the author attributes to Colonel Murray at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir about “Advancing in a different direction.” Was actually a quote by General Oliver P. Smith.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    13/11/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "How to deal with N. Korea based on history"

    interesting book. China intervened in the 50's to allow N Korea to exist today. they have a moral responsibility to resolve the issues that we face today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rev. "Duke" Wayne
    Army Post, USA
    02/09/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "EXCELLENT"

    Solid account of the history and power struggle of President Truman and General MacArthur. Truman, of course, was right in his decision to fire his general. Though I am a lifelong Republican, I would have proudly voted for this great American. Great listening experience - Superb narration, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anonymous
    20/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The General vs. the President Review"

    Personal favorites of the book for me were Parts I and V. HW Brands threads the needle of objectivity with precision. There were times in which I felt the frustration MacArthur must have felt with the politicians of Washington DC, located thousands of miles away from the Far East fight. At other times, you can feel the heat of Truman's temper, stemming from the General's insubordination. I recommend this book to those in the Military, and to lovers of History and Biography. It's a good read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin
    16/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So much respect for President Truman"

    Learned so much from this audiobook. Great lesson in history on two very interesting men. I wish we had more Presidents like Truman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cthulhu's slobber
    Ryleh
    04/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good book"

    Good book. We'll researched and written. Truman was a great president who saved the United States from WWIII.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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