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Truman and MacArthur: Policy, Politics, and the Hunger for Honor and Renown Hardcover – March 12, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"... 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



"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

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Edition edition (March 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253350662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253350664
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,845,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jerry D. Morelock on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Michael D. Pearlman, PhD, an award-winning historian, surgically dissects the Truman-MacArthur confrontation in his outstanding new book, Truman & MacArthur: Policy, Politics and the Hunger for Honor and Renown. In doing so, he cuts through over fifty years of partisan mythmaking by the champions of both men to present the most accurate and in-depth account to date of what led Truman to relieve MacArthur of command on April 11, 1951 and the firestorm of controversy that act produced. Pearlman's insightful account was not written to please advocates for either Truman or MacArthur. The author set himself a different task: "My job, writing some fifty years after the fact, is not to produce another partisan polemic for one individual or the other;" in short, he did not set out - as many books on this subject have done -- to make a case for justifying the actions of either man. His meticulously documented, painstakingly researched book removes the shroud of folklore that has clouded the controversy for decades and shatters long held myths -- instead of perpetuating them. Despite the fact that any political-military-diplomatic historian of long standing could not possibly embark upon such a book without having at least some preconceptions about the principal actors, Pearlman reveals that "I no longer have certain opinions held when beginning my research several years ago" - evidence of a rare open mindedness about a subject usually dominated by fixed opinions and partisanship. The result, to borrow a well-known news network tag line, is the most "fair and balanced" presentation of this complicated, highly-nuanced civil-military crisis yet published.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Anderson on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Historian Michael Pealman once again delves into the nature of civil-military relations, this time focusing on two strong leaders and the ways in which they understood the threat of communism and the Cold War. If you read Pearlman's last book, Warmaking and American Democracy, you will appreciate his unique storytelling voice that is marked by a brisk pace, attention to detail, and some great turns of phrase.

Pearlman traces Truman and MacArthur's struggles to defeat commumism while simultaneously attempting to establish their place in history. History, in fact, was vitally important to both men, and the author shows how their respective readings of history from Hannibal to the American Civil War influenced their conduct, especially as it pertained to the relationship between presidents and generals. Truman hesitated to over-reach in military affairs lest he become a Jefferson Davis. Similarly, MacArthur lionized Lee and the "double envelopment" which he attempted to reenact during WWII and the Korean War.

Neither man emerges from the book as a saint. We see how MacArthur relied on intuition and searched for facts to support his case rather than looking at facts to inform his decision making. He disparaged the Chinese communists as "primative" fighters before June 1950, then, after they entered the war in late 1950, he called them a well-organized and disciplined force. As US resistance stiffened in early 1951 and the weaknesses of the Chinese forces became more apparent, he once again disparaged them, in hopes of convincing his superiors to authorize carrying the war north again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Michael D. Pearlman's TRUMAN AND MACARTHUR: POLICY, POLITICS, AND THE HUNGER FOR HONOR AND RENOWN is yet an addition to the many published books about one of the two most misunderstood leaders in American history, Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. And one asks, what is the difference between this book and previous ones that have examined the gripping relationship between these two men that has centered on the Korean War? This book was somewhat a labor of love on the part of Pearlman who spent several years researching his subjects, and his intention is not to debunk the myths that have already been covered. Readers will see that he is getting down to the bottom of the complex mind and personalities of Truman and MacArthur, which shows how similar they really were despite the possible hint of jealously that may have been the culprit to tensions that erupted and led to MacArthur being relieved of his duties. As with most writers and historians reexamining history, although Pearlman attests that he is looking through an objective eye and with partisan politics in mind as they applied to the hackling that occurred on the battlefield and in Washington. And one may also observe that he was reflecting on the more recent past.

This is a well-documented and detailed book. The only qualm but interesting aspect about Pearlman's narrative is that he hastily discusses the politics about General MacArthur's run for the presidency. For those who lived during this part of history or have extensively studied MacArthur, it is a fact that he attempted to run for president alongside fellow five-star general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it is unfortunate that Pearlman did not elaborate on that topic.
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