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The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
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5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A good book on a long over looked subject

I am a little conflicted on this book. The author starts out with looking at general officer removal from battle as a subject of those officers failing. But as the book goes on it becomes more about how the general officer corps cannot nation build.
I think that the a...
I am a little conflicted on this book. The author starts out with looking at general officer removal from battle as a subject of those officers failing. But as the book goes on it becomes more about how the general officer corps cannot nation build.
I think that the author missed the point as to why Gen Marshall, in WWII, did what he did with the general officers. It stems from his time in WWI and that in the inter-war years he saw what the Army had and as war loomed he knew that the US could not afford the casualties that it sustained in WWI.
It would need leaders that used all available assets to achieve victory and use thier intellect not orders to win battles. The general officers in WWII, that fought in WWI, were far different than the general officers of WWI.
Good book on what it takes to be a general officer in the US Army. How our lessons learned must always be applied to current and future conflicts.

posted by BigIron14 on November 27, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Rick's has indeed produced an interesting book, and my third sta

Rick's has indeed produced an interesting book, and my third star is based on this versus the "analytical "value of the content. However, having served from 1960 through 1995, and studied the legislative and regulatory evolution of the Army over the course of...
Rick's has indeed produced an interesting book, and my third star is based on this versus the "analytical "value of the content. However, having served from 1960 through 1995, and studied the legislative and regulatory evolution of the Army over the course of its history, I found the book sorely lacking in addressing as simple an issue as the profoundly different legal and regulatory environment of the "Marshall Army" and subsequent years. Further, the "Marshall Army" was an Army that had to grow more than 10 fold in a few short years, while competing with sister services and industrial for leadership and manpower demands. No subsequent general had a "management" task remotely resembling this. Ricks failed to address the many generals whose tactical blunders were very costly, yet did not result in relief. Further, the WWII Army was able, legally, to take an operational star, such as Patton or Terry Allen, and "park them" somewhere to escape the glare caused by their personal eccentricities, and quickly return them to command of combat formations when they were needed. Such "luxury" became less and less possible under subsequent legislation and situational circumstances. In short, WWII, much like the Civil War, was a "one-off", and it is inaccurate to try to draw personnel management parallels to subsequent years without seriously addressing the nature of the "one-off".

Others have discussed the differences in civilian leadership, foreign policy and strategic objectives, that explain some of Ricks' conclusions differently, and there I agree as well. It would almost appear as Ricks had a thesis, and simply set out to present just those anecdotes that supported his thesis, and quit when that was done.

However, the book does give some interesting anecdotal material. Some (not all) of his criticisms of more recent generals are pretty spot-on, even if the causality he ascribes is far from so. He does, as others note, put national policy errors too heavily on the generals. The civilian leadership will obviously select theater commanders who are fully willing to execute their unenlightened objectives over those who don't. That such sycophants exist is no new development. Donald Rumsfeld, for example, was not interested in any contrasting opinions, as demonstrated by his marginalizing GEN Shinseki. Nuff said.

For all its warts, I would never want to see the military be the main force behind foreign policy. Our job is to offer professional military (not domestic political) advice, then obey the lawful orders of those appointed over us. At the top, those appointed over us are, and will remain, civilians.

posted by Aviator47 on January 25, 2013

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Rick's has indeed produced an interesting book, and my third sta

    Rick's has indeed produced an interesting book, and my third star is based on this versus the "analytical "value of the content. However, having served from 1960 through 1995, and studied the legislative and regulatory evolution of the Army over the course of its history, I found the book sorely lacking in addressing as simple an issue as the profoundly different legal and regulatory environment of the "Marshall Army" and subsequent years. Further, the "Marshall Army" was an Army that had to grow more than 10 fold in a few short years, while competing with sister services and industrial for leadership and manpower demands. No subsequent general had a "management" task remotely resembling this. Ricks failed to address the many generals whose tactical blunders were very costly, yet did not result in relief. Further, the WWII Army was able, legally, to take an operational star, such as Patton or Terry Allen, and "park them" somewhere to escape the glare caused by their personal eccentricities, and quickly return them to command of combat formations when they were needed. Such "luxury" became less and less possible under subsequent legislation and situational circumstances. In short, WWII, much like the Civil War, was a "one-off", and it is inaccurate to try to draw personnel management parallels to subsequent years without seriously addressing the nature of the "one-off".

    Others have discussed the differences in civilian leadership, foreign policy and strategic objectives, that explain some of Ricks' conclusions differently, and there I agree as well. It would almost appear as Ricks had a thesis, and simply set out to present just those anecdotes that supported his thesis, and quit when that was done.

    However, the book does give some interesting anecdotal material. Some (not all) of his criticisms of more recent generals are pretty spot-on, even if the causality he ascribes is far from so. He does, as others note, put national policy errors too heavily on the generals. The civilian leadership will obviously select theater commanders who are fully willing to execute their unenlightened objectives over those who don't. That such sycophants exist is no new development. Donald Rumsfeld, for example, was not interested in any contrasting opinions, as demonstrated by his marginalizing GEN Shinseki. Nuff said.

    For all its warts, I would never want to see the military be the main force behind foreign policy. Our job is to offer professional military (not domestic political) advice, then obey the lawful orders of those appointed over us. At the top, those appointed over us are, and will remain, civilians.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

    A good book on a long over looked subject

    I am a little conflicted on this book. The author starts out with looking at general officer removal from battle as a subject of those officers failing. But as the book goes on it becomes more about how the general officer corps cannot nation build.
    I think that the author missed the point as to why Gen Marshall, in WWII, did what he did with the general officers. It stems from his time in WWI and that in the inter-war years he saw what the Army had and as war loomed he knew that the US could not afford the casualties that it sustained in WWI.
    It would need leaders that used all available assets to achieve victory and use thier intellect not orders to win battles. The general officers in WWII, that fought in WWI, were far different than the general officers of WWI.
    Good book on what it takes to be a general officer in the US Army. How our lessons learned must always be applied to current and future conflicts.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    SAA -- I just completed this book and feel so proud and relieved

    SAA -- I just completed this book and feel so proud and relieved Ricks' finally had the courage, foresight and knowledge to finally reveal to the general public what has needed to be said about the military's top bureaucrats. There are no more Pattons, Rommels, Jacksons and Pershings. There are only robotic drones (no pun intended) experts at ironing, shining and marching; under educated about most cultures in the world without a care about the history of other non-caucasions. He was accurate that generals are not fully to blame. The PODUS, SECDEF and Sec. of State also deserve some blame but instead of trying to be nice and ensure they get along, the civilian-military discourse (Ricks' words) has devolved into corporate mgmt. polities ensuring there is no yelling and only backstabbing. Great job Mr. Ricks and I can't wait to read your next book. Today's officers and senior enlisted are not leaders, they're followers!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2012

    Great book. It's very easy to read, and insightful at the same

    Great book. It's very easy to read, and insightful at the same time, which is nice. You may not agree with what he writes, but the book is certainly thought provoking. Highlights the need for military strategy to be in tune with political strategy, and the need for clear and honest communication at the top. I found a lot of truth in his assertions about the military officer corps.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    biased, nothing new on ww2

    biased, nothing new on ww2

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2012

    The author demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge on how the

    The author demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge on how the politicians determine the constraints placed on the military, not the military themselves. The book is pretty much one big "cut and paste" job from a minority of authors who agree with his opinions; when they disagree with his thesis he buries a disclaimer in a "coda" or in footnotes. Sophomoric drivel written probably to safeguard his rice bowl at the New York Times The Vet

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    Resonates with today

    I don't always agree with Tom Ricks' viewpoint, but a lot of his points he makes are very true in today's military. Easy to read book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Detailed

    Too political

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    didnt like

    didnt like

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2012

    Good read

    Bought it for our son in the military..husband had to read it first.said it was very good and our son definitely will want to read it...he is an infantry officer
    giving it for a Christmas gift.

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    Posted December 4, 2012

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