Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq / Edition 2

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $6.67
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 74%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $6.67   
  • New (5) from $20.27   
  • Used (7) from $6.63   


Following World War II, Americans expected that the United States would wage another major war against a superpower. Instead, the nation has fought limited wars against much weaker states, such as North Korea, North Vietnam, and Iraq. This revised and updated edition of Presidential Decisions for War analyzes the means by which four presidents have taken the nation to war and assesses the effectiveness of each president's leadership during those conflicts.

Gary Hess recreates the unfolding crises in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq to probe the reasons why Presidents Truman, Johnson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush and their advisors decided in favor of war. He compares the performance of the commanders-in-chief and evaluates how effectively each understood U.S. interests, explored alternatives to war, adhered to constitutional processes, and built congressional, popular, and international support. A new conclusion points out, that unlike the administrations of Truman, Johnson, and the elder Bush, George W. Bush's White House actively sought to change the international order through preemptive war and aggressive democracy building.

Fully revised and featuring an examination of how each of the presidents learned from history and juggled the demands on diplomacy, this comparative study of presidential war-making elucidates how effective executive leadership—or its absence—directly affects the outcome of wars.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

International History Review - Warren I. Cohen

Hess's writing is clear, each chapter is sharply focused, and his comparisons are deft, all of which we have a right to expect from an historian of his stature.

Historian - Dan Koprowski

A solid work... Hess has packaged three historical vignettes in a thorough, concise, and readable primer on wartime presidential leadership.

International History Review
Hess's writing is clear, each chapter is sharply focused, and his comparisons are deft, all of which we have a right to expect from an historian of his stature.

— Warren I. Cohen

A solid work... Hess has packaged three historical vignettes in a thorough, concise, and readable primer on wartime presidential leadership.

— Dan Koprowski

Virginia Quarterly Review

This book admirably introduces an historical cross-analysis that allows some assessment of US leadership during these critical times.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801891243
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Series: The American Moment Series
  • Edition description: second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 942,610
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary R. Hess is a Distinguished Research Professor of History at Bowling Green State University. His published works include The United States at War, 1941-1945; Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War; The United States' Emergence as a Southeast Asia Power, 1940-1950; and America Encounters India, 1941-1947.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Foreword ix

Preface to the Second Edition xi

Introduction: Presidential Leadership and International Crises 1

1 Harry S. Truman and the Korean Crises: "We can't let the U.N. down" 8

2 Harry S. Truman as Commander in Chief: Decision by Indecision 41

3 Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam Crisis: "America keeps her word" 75

4 Lyndon B. Johnson as Commander in Chief: The Strategy of Wishful Thinking 113

5 George H. W. Bush and the Persian Gulf Crisis: "This aggression will not stand" 153

6 George H. W. Bush as Commander in Chief: The Imperatives of Coalition Warfare 199

7 George W. Bush and the Second Crisis with Iraq: "Time is not on our side" 221

8 George W. Bush as Commander in Chief: History Overpowers Ideology 249

Conclusion: Four Presidents and Their Wars 278

Bibliographical Essay 291

Index 321

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)