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Presidents at War: From Truman to Bush, The Gathering of Military Powers To Our Commanders in Chief

Overview

The Korean War, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, El Salvador, Grenada, Iran-Contra, Nicaragua, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq

What do these events and scores of others have in common? Each of these wars, incursions, invasions, and covert actions was undertaken by the United States without the benefit of a declaration of war. Where congressional sanction was sought, it usually took ...

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Presidents at War: From Truman to Bush, The Gathering of Military Powers To Our Commanders in Chief

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Overview

The Korean War, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, El Salvador, Grenada, Iran-Contra, Nicaragua, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq

What do these events and scores of others have in common? Each of these wars, incursions, invasions, and covert actions was undertaken by the United States without the benefit of a declaration of war. Where congressional sanction was sought, it usually took the form of a resolution, frequently issued after the fact.

Presidents at War is the first book to examine all of America's post-World War II military actions through the lens of the president's authority as commander in chief. Author Gerald Astor analyzes the various presidents' rationales for undeclared warfare, from Truman's citing of an international agreement (the United Nations) to Eisenhower's domino theory, to Kennedy's defense of the Monroe Doctrine, to bald assertions of authority by a commander in chief because of fears of communist expansion, threats to oil in the Middle East, humanitarian concerns in the Balkans, or provocations by terrorists. Each commander in chief served as a precedent for those who followed. Astor contends this cumulative process was accelerated by the September 11, 2001, attacks that led to the war on terrorism, the invasion of Iraq to oust the cruel regime of Saddam Hussein for his alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, and the potential trampling of civil liberties in the United States.

Has the president become free to take military action on the slightest whim? Is it now true that, as Richard Nixon said, "If the president does it, then it is not illegal"? Is the Constitution obsolete? And does Congress have the tools with which to curb this seemingly unbridled power? Read Presidents at War and find out.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
World War II veteran, journalist, and military historian Astor (The Jungle War) examines the many roles of U.S. presidents as commanders in chief. Following a foreword by Congressman John P. Murtha, Astor examines how the position of military leader has evolved since World War II, how individual presidents have defined the role, and the wartime factors that have molded this aspect of the presidency. He exhaustively documents wartime presidential powers, using firsthand presidential accounts to provide detailed and personal background on presidential decisions to go into battle. Although he sometimes gets tied down in too much detail, he does get the message across that individual presidents are strengthening their role as commander in chief and wielding more power to bring the American armed forces into battle without the traditional declaration of war by Congress. Recommended for academic libraries.-Jenny Emanuel, Central Missouri State Univ. Lib., Warrensburg Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471696551
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/18/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

A former magazine writer and editor, GERALD ASTOR has published twenty-four books, twelve on World War II, including The Jungle War: Mavericks, Marauders, and Madmen in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II, also available from Wiley. He lives in Scarsdale, New York.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Congressman John P. Murtha.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction: Commander in Chief.

1 The Evolution of War Powers and Precedents.

2 World War I, World War II.

3 The Truman Years.

4 The Reign of Ike.

5 Camelot’s Commander in Chief.

6 The Missile Crisis.

7 Resolution and Reverberations.

8 LBJ, Part of the Way.

9 Down the Slope.

10 Toward Peace with Honor.

11 Pieces of Peace.

12 The Bitter End.

13 Iran, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

14 Beirut, Central America, and Iran.

15 Iran-Contra.

16 Bush One.

17 Nation-Building and Genocide.

18 Prevention and Retaliation.

19 Between Iraq and Hard Places.

20 Winning the War, Fighting On.

21 Power and Abdication.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Good book

    Good book for children

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