The Generals by Thomas E. Ricks audiobook

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

By Thomas E. Ricks
Read by William Hughes

Blackstone Publishing 9781594204043
15.77 Hours Unabridged
Format: Digital Download (In Stock)
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble comes an epic history of the decline of American military leadership from World War II to Iraq. History has been kinder to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—than to the generals of the wars that followed. Is this merely nostalgia? In The Generals, Thomas E. Ricks answers the question definitively: No, it is not—in no small part because of a widening gulf between performance and accountability. During the Second World War, scores of American generals were relieved of command simply for not being good enough. Today as one American colonel said bitterly during the Iraq War, “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.” In The Generals we meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and those who failed themselves and their soldiers. Marshall and Eisenhower cast long shadows over this story, but no single figure is more inspiring than Marine General O. P. Smith, whose fighting retreat from the Chinese onslaught into Korea in the winter of 1950 snatched a kind of victory from the jaws of annihilation. But Smith’s courage and genius in the face of one of the grimmest scenarios the marines have ever faced only cast the shortcomings of the people who put him there in sharper relief. If Korea showed the first signs of a culture that neither punished mediocrity nor particularly rewarded daring, the Vietnam War saw American military leadership bottom out. The My Lai massacre is held up as the emblematic event of this dark chapter of our history. In the wake of Vietnam, a battle for the soul of the US Army was waged with impressive success. It became a transformed institution, reinvigorated from the bottom up. But if the body was highly toned, its head still suffered from familiar problems, resulting in leadership that, from the first Iraq War through to the present, was tactically savvy but strategically obtuse—one that would win battles but would end wars badly. Thomas E. Ricks has made a close study of America’s military leaders for three decades, and in his hands this story resounds with larger meaning: the transmission of values, strategic thinking, the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails. Military history of the highest quality, The Generals is also essential reading for anyone with an interest in the difference between good leaders and bad ones.

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Summary

Summary

A New York Times bestseller

A 2012 Washington Post Best Book for Nonfiction

A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, October 2012

A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Nonfiction

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble comes an epic history of the decline of American military leadership from World War II to Iraq.

History has been kinder to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—than to the generals of the wars that followed. Is this merely nostalgia? In The Generals, Thomas E. Ricks answers the question definitively: No, it is not—in no small part because of a widening gulf between performance and accountability. During the Second World War, scores of American generals were relieved of command simply for not being good enough. Today as one American colonel said bitterly during the Iraq War, “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

In The Generals we meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and those who failed themselves and their soldiers. Marshall and Eisenhower cast long shadows over this story, but no single figure is more inspiring than Marine General O. P. Smith, whose fighting retreat from the Chinese onslaught into Korea in the winter of 1950 snatched a kind of victory from the jaws of annihilation. But Smith’s courage and genius in the face of one of the grimmest scenarios the marines have ever faced only cast the shortcomings of the people who put him there in sharper relief.

If Korea showed the first signs of a culture that neither punished mediocrity nor particularly rewarded daring, the Vietnam War saw American military leadership bottom out. The My Lai massacre is held up as the emblematic event of this dark chapter of our history.

In the wake of Vietnam, a battle for the soul of the US Army was waged with impressive success. It became a transformed institution, reinvigorated from the bottom up. But if the body was highly toned, its head still suffered from familiar problems, resulting in leadership that, from the first Iraq War through to the present, was tactically savvy but strategically obtuse—one that would win battles but would end wars badly.

Thomas E. Ricks has made a close study of America’s military leaders for three decades, and in his hands this story resounds with larger meaning: the transmission of values, strategic thinking, the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails. Military history of the highest quality, The Generals is also essential reading for anyone with an interest in the difference between good leaders and bad ones.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Engaging, informed…a highly entertaining book.” Wall Street Journal
“[Ricks’] combination of conviction and erudition allows him to deliver an entertaining and enlightening jeremiad that should.” New York Times Book Review
“Much of what Ricks mentions can be found elsewhere, but his skill at pulling it all together and his fresh insights give the narrative power.” Washington Post
“Impressive…Stark, fact-based, and strongly argued.” Chicago Tribune
“An impressive level of research with expert storytelling.” Weekly Standard
“[A] savvy study of leadership in the US Army…an incisive, hard-hitting corrective to unthinking veneration of American military prowess.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Superbly researched and written.” Library Journal
“[A] provocative, blistering critique of a system where accountability appears to have gone missing.” Kirkus Reviews
“Insightful, well written, and thought provoking…This book justifiably calls for a return to the strict, demanding, and successful Marshall prescription for generalship. It is a reminder that the lives of soldiers are more important than the careers of officers—and that winning wars is more important than either.” Lieutenant General Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (Ret.); author of The Generals’ War
“Thomas E. Ricks has written a definitive and comprehensive story of American generalship from the battlefields of World War II to the recent war in Iraq. The Generals candidly reveals their triumphs and failures, and offers a prognosis of what can be done to ensure success by our future leaders in the volatile world of the twenty-first century.” Carlo D’Este, author of Patton: A Genius for War
“This is a brilliant book—deeply researched, very well-written, and outspoken. Ricks pulls no punches in naming names as he cites serious failures of leadership, even as we were winning World War II, and failures that led to serious problems in later wars. And he calls for rethinking the concept of generalship in the Army of the future.” William J. Perry, nineteenth US Secretary of Defense
The Generals rips up the definition of professionalism in which the US Army has clothed itself. Tom Ricks shows that it has lost the habit of sacking those who cannot meet the challenge of war, leaving it to presidents to do so. His devastating analysis explains much that is wrong in US civil-military relations. America’s allies, who have looked to emulate too slavishly the world’s preeminent military power, should also take heed.” Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford
“Tom Ricks has written another provocative and superbly researched book that addresses a critical issue: generalship. After each period of conflict in our history, the quality and performance of our senior military leaders comes under serious scrutiny. The Generals will be a definitive and controversial work that will spark the debate, once again, regarding how we make and choose our top military leaders.” General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Thomas E. Ricks

Author Bio: Thomas E. Ricks

Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times bestselling author, is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its “Future of War” project. He was previously a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the prizewinning blog The Best Defense. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, he covered US military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of several books, including The Generals, The Gamble, and the number one New York Times bestseller Fiasco, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 15.77
Audience: Adult
Language: English