Listen free for 30 days

Presidents of War

Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 26 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: History, American
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

From a preeminent presidential historian comes a groundbreaking and often surprising saga of America’s wartime chief executives.

Ten years in the research and writing, Presidents of War is a fresh, magisterial, intimate look at a procession of American leaders as they took the nation into conflict and mobilized their country for victory. It brings us into the room as they make the most difficult decisions that face any president, at times sending hundreds of thousands of American men and women to their deaths. 

From James Madison and the War of 1812 to recent times, we see them struggling with Congress, the courts, the press, their own advisors, and antiwar protesters; seeking comfort from their spouses, families, and friends; and dropping to their knees in prayer. We come to understand how these presidents were able to withstand the pressures of war - both physically and emotionally - or were broken by them.

Beschloss’s interviews with surviving participants in the drama and his findings in original letters, diaries, once-classified national security documents, and other sources help him to tell this story in a way it has not been told before. Presidents of War combines the sense of being there with the overarching context of two centuries of American history. This important audiobook shows how far we have traveled from the time of our founders, who tried to constrain presidential power, to our modern day, when a single leader has the potential to launch nuclear weapons that can destroy much of the human race.

©2018 Michael Beschloss (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Sparkle and bite.... Valuable and engrossing study of how our chief executives have discharged the most significant of all their duties.... Excellent.... A fluent narrative that covers two centuries of national conflict.” (Richard Snow, The Wall Street Journal)

“This spirited account, reminiscent of The Oxford History of the United States, will captivate history buffs and interest scholars of the institutional presidency and the Constitution.” (Library Journal, starred review)

"The renowned historian explores America's wars through its presidents. In another masterful work of research, Beschloss demonstrates his erudite grasp of the history of the executive branch. The Founders gave Congress the power to 'declare' (not make) war; the executive has power only to repel attacks.... As he clearly shows throughout this illuminating narrative, during every war, the president has received extraordinary powers; some used it well, while others abused it. The author's highly readable style and ability to pinpoint the most relevant facts make this a perfect book for any student of American history and its presidents." (Kirkus, starred review) 

"Beschloss offers a sweeping history of American presidents seeking and waging war.... He provides insight into the motivations of American leaders; presidents’ battles with other branches of government; their degree of respect for civil liberties; and the role of personality, emotion, and the general political climate as American commanders-in-chief executed the power of the country’s military forces.... Ample detail and enticing storytelling.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Viazoy
  • Viazoy
  • 28-10-18

Good Book; Muffled Sound

There was so much interesting content in this book that I was especially disappointed in the recording. I have many other Audible books that are clear and easy to understand. But this one sounded muffled, as if it were being recorded into a pillow. I don’t think the problem was with the narrator either. I think perhaps the recording environment may have been the problem.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Barefoot
  • Barefoot
  • 18-10-18

Heads up: Chapters are out of order

The recording starts with Chapter 7 starting with the civil war. Half way through, it jumps back to Chapter 1. Luckily, this is a history so it's not crucial to be in order but it is annoying.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lolly
  • Lolly
  • 25-11-18

Learned things I didn't know.

I have appreciated Michael Beschloss's historical perspective on MSNBC. This is the first of his books that I have read. Will definitely read others. One learns presidential mythology in school. Beschloss expands on what we think we know with insights and details into the men, the circumstances, and the times yielding a fleshed out image of each president.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Purchaser
  • Purchaser
  • 10-10-18

An Amazing Book about a very Important Subject!!

A great survey of WH management of wars. It is a recommended read/listen for any serious student of the military and political history of the world, not just the US.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Louis Macareo
  • Louis Macareo
  • 27-10-18

Extremely ambitious and It Accomplished its Goals

it is hard to believe that I just finished a book of such breadth and relatively substantial depth. Kudosvto Beschloss for having the stamina and vision to even undertake such a work.

So what did I learn? Politics and politicians are messy and when you are the boss, critics are a dime a dozen . . . and should often be listened to. Obviously, war is a horrible undertaking and it is amazing how frequently it takes on a life of its own. Of all the tragedies, Vietnam is the most painful. Practicallt every motherf**ker responsible knew from the earliest moments that it was a mistake, we were lilely backing the wrong side and that it was unwinable through ground conbat. Anyway, that is a tangent. Most interesting was the intimate sense Beschloss gives of being in the room and head of the decisionmakers throughout our history post-Washington. Much food for thought on decisionmaking and leadership.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Utilisateur anonyme
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 03-02-20

Excellent presidential history

I enjoyed the story of each wartime president with all of the background and the eventual consequences.

Performance wise, Fred did a great job narrating the book clearly; however, the...pauses before reading a quoted passage were super distracting at first, and tiresome later in the book.

Overall a great overview and one I would recommend to anyone interested in presidential history.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Duane
  • Duane
  • 29-12-19

Excellent!

Very well researched, thought out, and written. As 1 of the 2 most notable presidential historians Michael Beschloss is outstanding. As a combat veteran and I found this book very informative

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-11-19

Sweeping History of Presidential War Powers

Wonderfully and elegantly written, a must read for anyone seriously interested in the way Congress has abdicated their most important Constitutional power.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark W.
  • Mark W.
  • 25-09-19

Entertaining and thoughtful

I enjoyed the stories which lead up to war. it's clear that history does repeat itself. when we learn that if the government wants, the president wants to make war there is nothing or no one can stop it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for meredith cox
  • meredith cox
  • 08-09-19

Great read!

Incredible story teller laying out the impact various approaches by each administration directly impacted how conflicts were conducted. Reiterated the gradual growth of the executive branch during wartime and provides a thought provoking account of how checks and balances have impacted US foreign policy and grand strategy