Presidents of war

Michael R. Beschloss

Book - 2018

"Ten years in the making, Presidents of War is a fresh, intimate, irresistibly readable narrative of how a procession of Chief Executives took the nation into major conflicts, mobilized Americans for victory and seized greater power for themselves. Beschloss's findings in original letters, diaries, and declassified documents, and his interviews with surviving participants in the drama, allow him to bring us into the room and into the minds of these men as they make the most difficult d...ecisions that face any President, at times sending hundreds of thousands of American men and women to their deaths. From James Madison and the War of 1812 to Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam, we see these leaders struggling with Congress, the courts, the press, their own advisers, and antiwar protesters; seeking comfort from their spouses, families, and friends; and dropping to their knees in prayer. We come to understand how these Presidents were able to withstand the pressures of war--both physically and emotionally--or were broken by them. Presidents of War combines this sense of immediacy with the overarching context of two centuries of American history. Through his rich and vivid storytelling, Beschloss shows how far we have traveled, from the time of our Founders, who tried to constrain presidential power, to our modern day, when a single leader has the potential to launch nuclear weapons that can destroy much of the human race."--Dust jacket.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

973.099/Beschloss
2 / 3 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 973.099/Beschloss Checked In
2nd Floor 973.099/Beschloss Due Jun 3, 2022
2nd Floor 973.099/Beschloss Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York : Crown [2018]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xi, 739 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780307409607
0307409600
Main Author
Michael R. Beschloss (author)
  • Torrent of passion
  • Man of straw
  • The most glorious war
  • The country is almost ours
  • A presidential war
  • Fort Sumter
  • Blood flowing all about me
  • Maine blown up
  • We must keep what we want
  • The world is on fire
  • Salvation of mankind
  • How could this have happened?
  • The survival war
  • I am going to let them have it
  • I didn't ask their permission
  • We got slapped
  • I don't see any way of winning.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The intensity of combat magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of individual soldiers, and the stress can also bring out unexpected, hidden reserves of courage, calm, and determination. This also pertains to the presidents who manage wars, as celebrated historian Beschloss illustrates. This is a massive but eminently readable effort to gauge the performance of eight presidents who waged major wars and one, Thomas Jefferson, who avoided a major conflict when one seemed likely. Beschloss avoids excessive attacks but clearly has his favorites. He asserts that Madison erred in pursuing an avoidable war with the British and failed to muster support from a divided population. Polk began the Mexican War with a strategy of supreme cynicism, turning a border skirmish into an act of war, then turning that into a war of expansion, leaving the nation embittered. Lincoln was initially tentative yet eventually became politically adept and wise enough to give Grant the support necessary to win the Civil War. Beschloss' fine survey, from the War of 1812 to Vietnam, reveals a great deal about each commander-in-chief. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

NBC News Presidential Historian Beschloss (Presidential Courage) considers the U.S. president as commander in chief, moving from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War to clarify how that role has changed owing to circumstance and constant wrestling with Congress. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Beschloss (Presidential Courage), NBC's presidential historian, returns with his ninth book on the American presidency, this time investigating eight presidents who served during wartime and how they interpreted their constitutional authority. The author reveals James Madison, James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson as strong leaders who expanded their command, often resulting in the loss of congressional support and public confidence. All of these presidents—George H.W. Bush and George Bush are not included because the author considers their terms too recent to be judged historically—are thoroughly and skillfully vetted with mixed results. The worst excesses include Polk's lying to ignite the 1848 Mexican War, Roosevelt's incarceration of Japanese Americans, and Johnson's politics that made the Vietnam War fought mostly by the poor and minorities. Notable examples of statesmanship include Lincoln's openness with Congress, Madison's support of civil liberties during the War of 1812, and McKinley's transforming the United States into a world power. VERDICT This spirited account, reminiscent of The Oxford History of the United States, will captivate history buffs and interest scholars of the institutional presidency and the Constitution. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/18.]—Karl Helicher, formerly with Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Presidential historian Beschloss (Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789–1989) offers a sweeping history of American presidents seeking and waging war from the War of 1812—the first major conflict conducted by the executive office under the Constitution—through the conclusion of the Vietnam War. He provides insight into the motivations of American leaders; presidents' battles with other branches of government; their degree of respect for civil liberties; and the role of personality, emotion, and the general political climate as American commanders-in-chief executed the power of the country's military forces. Beschloss reviews the historical record from an American-expansionist yet not necessarily prowar perspective; he writes, for example, that President Polk "deserves credit for adding almost a million square miles to the United States," referring to the U.S. conquest of much of Mexico during the Mexican–American War, but that "a major, bloody war... should have been his last resort," in keeping with the founders' intentions. With ample detail and enticing storytelling, this readable work will be enjoyed by students and American history buffs. Agent: Esther Newberg, Curtis Brown. (Oct.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Charts the controversial leadership, public reputations, and evolving political powers of American wartime presidents from the War of 1812 through Vietnam, including Lincoln, Wilson, and LBJ.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The best-selling author of The Conquerors charts the controversial leadership, public reputations and evolving political powers of American wartime Presidents from the War of 1812 through Vietnam, including Lincoln, Wilson and LBJ.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"From a preeminent presidential historian comes a groundbreaking and often surprising saga of America's wartime chief executives. Ten years in the research and writing, Presidents of Waris a fresh, magisterial, intimate look at a procession of American leaders as they took the nation into conflict and mobilized their country for victory. It brings us into the room as they make the most difficult decisions that face any President, at times sending hundreds of thousands of American men and women to their deaths. From James Madison and the War of 1812 to recent times, we see them struggling with Congress, the courts, the press, their own advisors and antiwar protesters; seeking comfort from their spouses, families and friends; and dropping to their knees in prayer. We come to understand how these Presidents were able to withstand the pressures of war--both physically and emotionally--or were broken by them. Beschloss's interviews with surviving participants in the drama and his findings in original letters, diaries, once-classified national security documents, and other sources help him to tell this story in a way it has not been told before.Presidents of Warcombines the sense of being there with the overarching context of two centuries of American history. This important book shows how far we have traveled from the time of our Founders, who tried to constrain presidential power, to our modern day, when a single leader has the potential to launch nuclear weapons that can destroy much of the human race"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"From a preeminent presidential historian comes a groundbreaking and often surprising narrative of America's wartime chief executives"--

Review by Publisher Summary 5

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From a preeminent presidential historian comes a “superb and important” (The New York Times Book Review) saga of America’s wartime chief executives “Fascinating and heartbreaking . . . timely . . . Beschloss’s broad scope lets you draw important crosscutting lessons about presidential leadership.”—Bill Gates Widely acclaimed and ten years in the making, Michael Beschloss’s Presidents of War is an intimate and irresistibly readable chronicle of the Chief Executives who took the United States into conflict and mobilized it for victory. From the War of 1812 to Vietnam, we see these leaders considering the difficult decision to send hundreds of thousands of Americans to their deaths; struggling with Congress, the courts, the press, and antiwar protesters; seeking comfort from their spouses and friends; and dropping to their knees in prayer. Through Beschloss’s interviews with surviving participants and findings in original letters and once-classified national security documents, we come to understand how these Presidents were able to withstand the pressures of war—or were broken by them. Presidents of War combines this sense of immediacy with the overarching context of two centuries of American history, traveling from the time of our Founders, who tried to constrain presidential power, to our modern day, when a single leader has the potential to launch nuclear weapons that can destroy much of the human race.Praise for Presidents of War"A marvelous narrative. . . . As Beschloss explains, the greatest wartime presidents successfully leaven military action with moral concerns. . . . Beschloss’s writing is clean and concise, and he admirably draws upon new documents. Some of the more titillating tidbits in the book are in the footnotes. . . . There are fascinating nuggets on virtually every page of Presidents of War. It is a superb and important book, superbly rendered.”—Jay Winik, The New York Times Book Review"Sparkle and bite. . . . Valuable and engrossing study of how our chief executives have discharged the most significant of all their duties. . . . Excellent. . . . A fluent narrative that covers two centuries of national conflict.” —Richard Snow, The Wall Street Journal