Customer Reviews for

Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2003

    Traits of successful wartime leaders

    I read this book because it was touted as one of the books President Bush was reading in the summer of 2002. The book by Eliot Cohen is about the tension that often exists between civil and military leaders in wartime. By looking at four democratic leaders Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill and Ben-Gurion, Cohen, uncovers their 'strategy-making in war'. Cohen evokes the memory of Clausewitz to show the importance of civil military relations. 'War is not merely an act of policy, but a true political instrument.' Politicians need to be prepared to make monumental decisions about strategy, select generals, work with coalition partners sometimes even having to re-organize military organizations. Another problem to work through is the mutual distrust that often arises between politicians and generals. By studying his four subjects Cohen finds that they exhibit some similar traits that make them successful wartime leaders. They were all curios men who rated technology highly. They were men who paid close attention to detail and asked probing questions of their generals. They prodded but did not dictate orders to their generals. They were very adroit politicians and great judges of character. Finally, they were well read men who also had a great command of the spoken word. 'War is too important to be left to the generals.' This quote uttered by France's President Clemenceau, will forever be remembered by students of history to illustrate the importance of civil control over the military. Cohen's book is an important study of the difficult job politicians face in their roles as commanders in chief. I recommend it to the layman as well as the professional.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2003

    A Brief Look Into the world best

    A very fascination and unbiased look at the world best leaders!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2002

    An engaging, scholarly study of civilian-military relations

    At a time when a U.S. invasion of Iraq appears imminent and inevitable, this learned study of both the traditional and the more recent, iconoclastic theories of the proper relationship between the policies of state and the direction of military strategy documents the difficulties and dangers of preventing limited warfare from escalating beyond any semblance of civilian control. Supreme Command adds context and texture to the serious student¿s understanding of the history of the twentieth century and its wars, warriors, and statesmen, brilliantly limning biographical sketches of four statesmen who mastered military strategy and effectively controlled the apparently unstoppable momentum of battles by constant dialogues with generals quite willing to disagree with them, and who constructively shaped and limited the purposes and conduct of the wars over which they presided politically. Like characters in a great novel, Lincoln, Grant, and Meade; Clemenceau, Foch, and Petain; Churchill, Brooke, and Montgomery; Ben-Gurion, Yigal Allon, and Yigal Yadin ¿ all come memorably alive as fallible beings with strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. With an undeniably timely sense of foreboding, the author - a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University - examines the applicability of these and other historical precedents to the nuclear era, in which the dangers of war as the crudest tool of diplomacy threaten to outweigh by far its usefulness as an instrument of statecraft and polity.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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