Truman and MacArthur: Policy, Politics, and the Hunger for Honor and Renown

Truman and MacArthur: Policy, Politics, and the Hunger for Honor and Renown

by Michael D. Pearlman
     
 

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Truman and MacArthur offers an objective and comprehensive account of the very public confrontation between a sitting president and a well-known general over the military's role in the conduct of foreign policy. In November 1950, with the army of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea mostly destroyed, Chinese military forces crossed the Yalu River. They routed

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Overview

Truman and MacArthur offers an objective and comprehensive account of the very public confrontation between a sitting president and a well-known general over the military's role in the conduct of foreign policy. In November 1950, with the army of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea mostly destroyed, Chinese military forces crossed the Yalu River. They routed the combined United Nations forces and pushed them on a long retreat down the Korean peninsula. Hoping to strike a decisive blow that would collapse the Chinese communist regime in Beijing, General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Far East Theater, pressed the administration of President Harry S. Truman for authorization to launch an invasion of China across the Taiwan straits. Truman refused; MacArthur began to argue his case in the press, a challenge to the tradition of civilian control of the military. He moved his protest into the partisan political arena by supporting the Republican opposition to Truman in Congress. This violated the President's fundamental tenet that war and warriors should be kept separate from politicians and electioneering. On April 11, 1951 he finally removed MacArthur from command.

Viewing these events through the eyes of the participants, this book explores partisan politics in Washington and addresses the issues of the political power of military officers in an administration too weak to carry national policy on its own accord. It also discusses America's relations with European allies and its position toward Formosa (Taiwan), the long-standing root of the dispute between Truman and MacArthur.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Military History
"... a well-researched, familiar story which provides historians with a comprehensive look into the swirl of controversy surrounding Truman's decision to remove MacArthur from command in Korea." —Thomas W. Zeiler, Journal of Military History, October 2008

— Thomas W. Zeiler

Naval War College Review

"... a first-rate research effort by a distinguished historian, writing in a lively style... of considerable value and interest to students of the period." —Naval War College Review, August 2008

The Weekly Standard

"... the author has researched his subject extensively, frequently displays a fine sense of irony, and has produced probably the best study of this subject to date." —The Weekly Standard, February 23, 2009

Journal of American History

"... represents a useful addition to the literature on the Korean War." —Journal of American History

Parameters: US Army Senior Professional Journal
... this book is something of a rarity among academic publications these days: great man history, history from above. Truman and MacArthur is a reminder of just how compelling such history can be—especially in the hands of someone who knows what he is about. Michael Pearlman certainly fits the description.—PARAMETERS : US Army Senior Prof Jrnl, Summer 2009
Military Review

"[T]he book is among the best civil military histories to come out in the last 10 years.... It deserves a wide, adult readership and has my highest recommendation for military and cilvilian professionals of all stripes." —Military Review

Pacific Affairs

"Michael Pearlman's timely study of the Truman-MacArthur controversy is a carefully researched and original work of scholarship that expertly illuminates the treacherous terrain of civil-military relations in the United States." —Pacific Affairs, Fall 2009

Parameters: US Army Senior Profesional Journal
"... this book is something of a rarity among academic publications these days: great man history, history from above. Truman and MacArthur is a reminder of just how compelling such history can be—especially in the hands of someone who knows what he is about. Michael Pearlman certainly fits the description." —PARAMETERS : US Army Senior Prof Jrnl, Summer 2009
A. Theoharis

Retired history professor Pearlman (US Army Command and General Staff College) revisits the history of President Harry Truman's relationship with General Douglas MacArthur during the critical years 1945-51, culminating in Truman's controversial decision to fire MacArthur in April 1951. Pearlman's thoughtful, comprehensive survey of the intertwined relationship of "policy, politics, and personality" offers fresh insights into US military strategy, Truman's controversial Far Eastern policy, the politics of McCarthyism, and the internal and public debate over Truman's Korean War policy. Based on extensive research into accessible primary sources and the relevant secondary literature, this skillful if densely written monograph is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Truman's presidency and, as importantly, on the bitter political debate over Truman's limited war strategy in the conduct of the Korean War. Fleshing out the differing personalities of these two prominent national leaders, Pearlman recounts how both men shaped and were shaped by the evolving crisis in US-Soviet and US-Chinese relations during the early Cold War years. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --ChoiceA. Theoharis, emeritus, Marquette University, March 2009

Journal of Military History - Thomas W. Zeiler

"... a well-researched, familiar story which provides historians with a comprehensive look into the swirl of controversy surrounding Truman's decision to remove MacArthur from command in Korea." —Thomas W. Zeiler, Journal of Military History, October 2008

PARAMETERS : US Army Senior Prof Jrnl

"... this book is something of a rarity among academic publications these days: great man history, history from above. Truman and MacArthur is a reminder of just how compelling such history can be—especially in the hands of someone who knows what he is about. Michael Pearlman certainly fits the description." —PARAMETERS : US Army Senior Prof Jrnl, Summer 2009

Paul Edwards

"Pearlman understands far better than most the underlying and widespread consequences of the clash between two highly motivated and somewhat egotistical giants. He rightly places the debate between MacArthur and Truman into the larger context... of the questions of civilian and constitutional authority, much like those being raised now about the war in Iraq." —Paul Edwards, Director, Center for the Study of the Korean War

Colonel (Retired)Donald W. Boose

"Drawing on a lifetime of study and research, Michael Pearlman expertly analyzes the relationship between President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, demonstrating how policies, politics, and personalities entwined to shape their confrontation. He deftly places that confrontation within the context of grand strategy, military operations, history, culture, and domestic politics, portraying with verve and color the panorama of conflict in East Asia during a critical period of American history." —Colonel (Retired)Donald W. Boose, Jr., author of U.S. Army Forces in the Korean War.

From the Publisher
"Pearlman understands far better than most the underlying and widespread consequences of the clash between two highly motivated and somewhat egotistical giants. He rightly places the debate between MacArthur and Truman into the larger context... of the questions of civilian and constitutional authority, much like those being raised now about the war in Iraq." —Paul Edwards, Director, Center for the Study of the Korean War

"Pearlman's thoughtful, comprehensive survey of the intertwined relationship of "policy, politics, and personality" offers fresh insights into US military strategy, Truman's controversial Far Eastern policy, the politics of McCarthyism, and the internal and public debate over Truman's Korean War policy. Based on extensive research into accessible primary sources and the relevant secondary literature, this skillful... monograph is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Truman's presidency and, as importantly, on the bitter political debate over Truman's limited war strategy in the conduct of the Korean War.... Recommended." —Choice, March 2009

"[T]he book is among the best civil military histories to come out in the last 10 years.... It deserves a wide, adult readership and has my highest recommendation for military and cilvilian professionals of all stripes." —Military Review

"... this book is something of a rarity among academic publications these days: great man history, history from above. Truman and MacArthur is a reminder of just how compelling such history can be—especially in the hands of someone who knows what he is about. Michael Pearlman certainly fits the description." —PARAMETERS : US Army Senior Prof Jrnl, Summer 2009

"Michael Pearlman's timely study of the Truman-MacArthur controversy is a carefully researched and original work of scholarship that expertly illuminates the treacherous terrain of civil-military relations in the United States." —Pacific Affairs, Fall 2009

"... a well-researched, familiar story which provides historians with a comprehensive look into the swirl of controversy surrounding Truman's decision to remove MacArthur from command in Korea." —Thomas W. Zeiler, Journal of Military History, October 2008

"Drawing on a lifetime of study and research, Michael Pearlman expertly analyzes the relationship between President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, demonstrating how policies, politics, and personalities entwined to shape their confrontation. He deftly places that confrontation within the context of grand strategy, military operations, history, culture, and domestic politics, portraying with verve and color the panorama of conflict in East Asia during a critical period of American history." —Colonel (Retired)Donald W. Boose, Jr., author of U.S. Army Forces in the Korean War.

Retired history professor Pearlman (US Army Command and General Staff College) revisits the history of President Harry Truman's relationship with General Douglas MacArthur during the critical years 1945-51, culminating in Truman's controversial decision to fire MacArthur in April 1951. Pearlman's thoughtful, comprehensive survey of the intertwined relationship of "policy, politics, and personality" offers fresh insights into US military strategy, Truman's controversial Far Eastern policy, the politics of McCarthyism, and the internal and public debate over Truman's Korean War policy. Based on extensive research into accessible primary sources and the relevant secondary literature, this skillful if densely written monograph is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Truman's presidency and, as importantly, on the bitter political debate over Truman's limited war strategy in the conduct of the Korean War. Fleshing out the differing personalities of these two prominent national leaders, Pearlman recounts how both men shaped and were shaped by the evolving crisis in US-Soviet and US-Chinese relations during the early Cold War years. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —ChoiceA. Theoharis, emeritus, Marquette University, March 2009

"... a first-rate research effort by a distinguished historian, writing in a lively style... of considerable value and interest to students of the period." —Naval War College Review, August 2008

"... represents a useful addition to the literature on the Korean War." —Journal of American History

Choice

"Pearlman's thoughtful, comprehensive survey of the intertwined relationship of "policy, politics, and personality" offers fresh insights into US military strategy, Truman's controversial Far Eastern policy, the politics of McCarthyism, and the internal and public debate over Truman's Korean War policy. Based on extensive research into accessible primary sources and the relevant secondary literature, this skillful... monograph is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Truman's presidency and, as importantly, on the bitter political debate over Truman's limited war strategy in the conduct of the Korean War.... Recommended." —Choice, March 2009

Armchair General

[This] meticulously documented, painstakingly researched book removes the shroud of folklore that has clouded the controversy for decades and shatters long held myths . . .

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253350664
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
979,639
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.32(d)

Meet the Author

Michael D. Pearlman retired in 2006 as a professor of history at the United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth. He is author of Warmaking and American Democracy: The Struggle over Military Strategy, 1700 to the Present and To Make Democracy Safe for America: Patricians and Preparedness in the Progressive Era. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Indiana University Press

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