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MacArthur's War : Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero
MacArthur's War : Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero
by Stanley Weintraub
Edition: Hardcover
145 used & new from $0.01

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Book, March 19, 2003
Weintraub is a serious scholar and a Korean vet. This book is credible because it matches the records as written down by the key players, such as George Marshall, Omar Bradley, Harry Truman, Eisenhower, and Samuel Morison.
Weintraub shows that MacArthur was paralysed at Pearl Harbor. Marshall called him and gave him a string of emergency instructions. MacArthur performed none of them. Instead he sat on his bed and read the bible, The result? Clark Field was bombed and most of the B-17 Flying Fortresses were destroyed.
When the Chinese surprised him in Korea, he panicked and wanted to get out completely. He sent a 38-page plan to the Joint Chiefs asking to get all troops and equipment out to Japan. He wanted Korea abandoned - another Dunkirk. Then Gen. O.P. Smith said, "Impossible. We don't have to lose this war. We can stay in Korea."
MacArthur took a grand total of 13 photo-op trips to Korea, staying from 90 minutes to three or four hours at a time. He never spent a day or night in Korea. Instead, he ran the war from his headquarters in Tokyo, which he loved because it overlooked the Emperor's Palace.
He thought America lost China because of politicians' incompetence. The truth is, Chiang Kai-shek's corruption and incompetence lost China.
When he finally found Korea a useful tool in his presidential plans, he demanded atom bombs - to drop on Chinese civilians. When he was refused (by everyone around Truman, not just Truman himself), he accused Truman of betrayal.
MacArthur messed up the war's initial stages, and then laid the blame on Truman, etc. It required Ridgway to clean up after MacArthur, but not before thousands of American lives lost.
MacArthur's contempt of Truman was open. He kept his Commander-in-Chief waiting, and then did not salute him before shaking hands. Young officers on the scene took it all in, and could hardly believe their eyes. How could MacArthur expect his subordinates to obey him when he was so insubordinate himself?
The memoirs of Gen. Bradley and Adm. Morison are particularly valuable for those who question Weintraub's assessment. I urge all to read their damning judgment of MacArthur.
The Republicans who wanted to impeach Truman set up a congressional inquiry. Then to their shock and horror, every major player - from Marshall to Bradley and Acheson - supported the president fully and rebutted MacArthur's charges. The accuser had become the accused and deserved culprit.
Why did the conservative National Review call MacArthur "the five-star peacock"? Why did the ultra-right-wing historian Paul Johnson refuse to defend MacArthur's conduct? The fact is, MacArthur was, and is, indefensible.
MacArthur's long record of incompetence and insubordination went back to the days of Herbert Hoover, and beyond, when he fired murderously on protesting veterans in Washington. Then he later tried to disobey Rooselvelt, who had to shut him up with a Congressional Medal of Honour (surely the least deserved on record). This vain clown with his oversized ego and undersized brain wanted to make himself president. But he was unelectable, in the eyes of clear-headed people who didn't want World War III. "The best clerk I ever had," as MacArthur called Eisenhower, became president, to everyone's relief (except MacArthur's).
FDR was right when he called MacArthur one of the two "most dangerous men" in America. (The other was Huey Long.) It is fitting that with time MacArthur's reputation "just fades away." He'll not be missed......except by the Japanese. But then the Japanese always see the world in their own peculiar way. If MacArthur is American Caesar, then I'm Jesus Christ.


The HarperCollins Dictionary of Mathematics
The HarperCollins Dictionary of Mathematics
by Jonathan M. Borwein
Edition: Paperback
81 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My First (& Only) Choice, March 17, 2003
A more handy dictionary of math than this one, I have yet to find. Profusely illustrated with equations, graphs, diagrams and charts, it is yet comprehensive enough not to miss items and entries of major importance - and it still stays within a reasonable, user-friendly size. The only dictionary I know of that is sure to be better than this one is soon to be available: the second edition of this book, published just a few months ago.


History of Egypt
History of Egypt
by James Henry Breasted
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from $7.56

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating (but maybe outdated), March 16, 2003
This review is from: History of Egypt (Hardcover)
My copy is the Bantam 1964 reprint of the 1905 classic. Almost a hundred years old, this book still reads surprisingly easily. Whether it's out of date or not, I'm in no position to judge, not being an expert in this field. But I'd assume that a lot of archaeological discoveries must have been made in the last century to make this book somewhat obsolete.
Breasted was the first and foremost American Egyptologist, the founder of the prestigious Oriental Institute of Chicago (the premier archaeology academy in America - featured in Indiana Jones), and the first archaeologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences.(He was also a former President of the American Historical Association, and must have been the only person to have both honors.) I particularly like his opinions of Thuthmosis III, whose 3450th passing is today.
Two other books that may shed some light on the recent findings are "Egypt of the Pharaohs" by Sir Alan Gardiner and "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt" edited by Ian Shaw.


Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia
Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia
by Sheryl WuDunn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.56
83 used & new from $0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Over-optimistic, March 15, 2003
I think the authors have gone overboard in their rosy opinions. But I do recommend this book highly because they did their homework by interviewing lots of people on the ground in China. Their resumes are also sterling: Kristof is a NY Times editor, Harvard grad with a first-class honors from Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and his wife, the co-author, is a Harvard MBA who shared a Pulitzer Prize with him for their China reporting. Some credentials.


Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia
Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia
by Sheryl WuDunn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.56
83 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Over-optimistic, March 15, 2003
I think the authors have gone overboard in their rosy opinions. But I do recommend this book highly because they did their homework by interviewing lots of people on the ground in China. Their resumes are also sterling: Kristof is a NY Times editor, Harvard grad with a first-class honors in Law from Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and his wife, the co-author, is a Harvard MBA who shared a Pulitzer Prize with him for their China reporting. Some credentials.


Asia Rising
Asia Rising
by Jim Rohwer
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $0.24

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary & Comprehensive Survey, March 15, 2003
This review is from: Asia Rising (Hardcover)
First, a bit of bad news: Rohwer died in a boating accident in France in Sept, 2001. So there won't be a second edition to this or any of his other books.
Rohwer (Berkeley MA in Economics, Harvard JD), who was an investment banker with CSFB in Hong Kong, brought a unique set of qualifications to his research. Some people criticized Rohwer for failing to predict the Asian economic crisis in 1998. (One book has the title: "Asia Falling".) But he did, on page 18: "My guess in that, around 2000, Asia's economic growth will suddenly slow down." This book was first published in 1995, so he saw it coming - even though his timing wasn't perfect. The fact that he made such a prediction, contrary to the tone and theme of his own book, is suggestive. Rohwer was prophetic.
Rohwer's sequel: "Remade in America" is just as good. Writing at the height of America's boom, he saw America's slowdown coming, and went on to suggest continuing strength in China's growth. Nothing has happened so far to contradict anything Rohwer wrote.
Other books I also recommend include "Thunder from the East" by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn. This couple won the Pulitzer Prize for the NY Times for their China reporting, and their CVs are sterling. "The Rise of China" by William Overholt (Harvard BA, Yale PhD), a former banker at Bankers Trust in Hong Kong, is slightly dated, but shows the brilliant judgment of the author. "China's Economic Transformation" by Professor Gregory Chow, Princeton University's former chief of econometrics, brings Chow's specialist quantitative skills to bear on an authoritative analysis of China's economy. All these authors would no doubt support Rohwer's findings and applaud his outstanding research. I myself can't praise Rohwer enough.


Asia Rising
Asia Rising
by Jim Rohwer
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $0.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary & Comprehensive Survey, March 15, 2003
This review is from: Asia Rising (Hardcover)
First, a bit of bad news: Rohwer died in a boating accident in France in Sept, 2001. So there won't be a second edition to this or any of his other books.
Rohwer (Berkeley MA in Economics, Harvard JD), who was an investment banker with CSFB in Hong Kong, brought a unique set of qualifications to his research. Some people criticized Rohwer for failing to predict the Asian economic crisis in 1998. (One book has the title: "Asia Falling".) But he did, on page 18: "My guess in that, around 2000, Asia's economic growth will suddenly slow down." This book was first published in 1995, so he saw it coming - even though his timing wasn't perfect. The fact that he made such a prediction, contrary to the tone and theme of his own book, is suggestive. Rohwer was prophetic.
Rohwer's sequel: "Remade in America" is just as good. Writing at the height of America's boom, he saw America's slowdown coming, and went on to suggest continuing strength in China's growth. Nothing has happened so far to contradict anything Rohwer wrote. At $6 trillion China is, according to the CIA World Factbook, the world's second largest economy and 13% of the world's total (Gross World Product: $47 in PPP), an economic giant which is expanding much faster than any major economy in the world - including India's. China is anything but "a modest country at best." (Bill Emmott)
Other books I also recommend include "Thunder from the East" by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn. This couple won the Pulitzer Prize for the NY Times for their China reporting, and their CVs are sterling. "The Rise of China" by William Overholt (Harvard BA, Yale PhD), a former banker at Bankers Trust in Hong Kong, is slightly dated, but shows the brillant judgment of the author. "China's Economic Transformation" by Professor Gregory Chow, Princeton University's former chief of econometrics, brings Chow's specialist quantitative skills to bear on an authoritative analysis of China's economy. All these authors would no doubt support Rohwer's findings and applaud his outstanding research. I myself can't praise Rohwer enough.


The Cambridge Illustrated History of China
The Cambridge Illustrated History of China
by Patricia Buckley Ebrey
Edition: Paperback
100 used & new from $0.94

28 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure to Read, March 14, 2003
This richly illustrated book (the maps are detailed and in color) is a fantastic survey of China's history from prehistory to present day. And it doesn't suffer from paying excessive attention to the modern era either, which is a fault in many Chinese histories (including Fairbank's). Excellent. Ebrey is a Sung specialist and a social historian with a PhD from Columbia.
Customers who are wondering whether this book is worth the price may do well to ask themselves if China is important enough to merit study. I'm afraid it is. China is the world's second largest economy, according to the CIA, worth $6 trillion in Purchasing Power Parity and almost 60% as large as America's. (In nominal GDP China is in fifth place, just ahead of France.) According to the World Trade Organization, China is now the world's fifth largest trader (in both exports and imports of goods and services), after the US, Japan, Germany, and France, and just ahead of Britain, which is sixth. (If the EU is counted as one unit, China is fourth.) China has the world's third largest stockpile of nuclear warheads, and has a highly developed ballistic missile technology (which is also reflected in its well-developed space program). The Pentagon believes China will improve its nuclear deterrence in both quality and quantity. China is one of the world's largest oil producers, with proven crude oil reserves larger than America's, according to the US Dept of Energy. Needless to say, China is the third largest country in territory (America is almost exactly the same size) and the largest in population, and has the veto on the UN Security Council. Two key facts make China particularly important in the future: its economic growth rate, which is the fastest in the world, and its population growth rate, which is kept under control (which is in fact lower than America's) and thus will help raise the average standard of living. In either respect can India, China's closest competitor in the future, compete. By one estimate China's economy will be equal in size to America's in twenty years' time. (See Gregory Chow's "China's Economic Transformation" available here on amazon.com.)
So China is a very important country, both politically and economically, and will be increasingly important in the future. Some people are already calling China the second most important country in the world. But what fascinates many people is the fact that China has lasted so long as a country. Indeed China's history as a unified state is ten times as long as the United States's own. China is one of the most ancient of civilizations. Unlike some of them - such as Babylon - China not only has survived, but it is still thriving. People like Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz and Jack Welch are already predicting China to become a superpower within a generation.
To understand such an important country, one must know something about its history. And this book is an excellent guide. I recommend it to all who wish to know more about China. I have yet to find a general historical survey of China as accurate and suitable for the beginners as it is fun and pleasurable to read, as this book.


The Military 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Military Leaders of All Time
The Military 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Military Leaders of All Time
by Michael L. Lanning
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from $29.57

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, March 14, 2003
Most of the reviewers who gave this book a low rating disagree with the rankings. I must say they all have a point. And the point is: we are not going to have a consensus on the rankings.

It's a different matter, however, if there are serious errors. Here's an example. Genghis Khan is claimed by Lanning to have been made universal khan by age 25. That's not what I know: he didn't get this title until he was 40. Lanning says Marlborough was appointed duke by William - but it was Queen Anne who appointed him duke. William only made him earl. Another example: Frederick the Great (#11) was called the most influential one between the time of Marlborough (#31) and the age of Napoleon (#2). Now, Washington falls right into this timeslot and Lanning has already rated him #1! If Frederick WAS the most influential one, then he should precede Washington, which contradicts Lanning's own rankings. Either the author was careless or worse (stupid).

The Eurocentric and American bias is very evident, but I don't blame him for that because this appears in all books of this kind depending on the author's own nationality. This book is more about the most influential military leaders of all time IN THE WEST. Such great military leaders as Muhammad, Qin Shihuang, Thuthmosis III (the Alexander of ancient Egypt), Ramesses II, Ogodai, Kubilai, Zhu Yuangzhang, Toyotomi Hideyoshi - these are not only not ranked, they're not even mentioned. But they are among the greatest and most influential military leaders in world history, far more important than many on Lanning's list.

Lanning's ignorance of the non-Western world is glaring. Certainly I would place Muhammad, who conquered the whole Middle East by the sword, and left a lasting legacy worldwide, way above Saxe (#24), whose name hardly rings a bell. Lanning may not like Muhammad post-9/11, but then he has Hitler on the list. Muhammad's conquests are far more lasting than even Alexander's. Instead, Lanning chooses not to mention his name even once.

Lanning has military experience as an officer in the finest army in the world today. (As a Lt. Col. he is an overkill......even Liddell Hart was a mere Captain.) However, his mistakes can be hair-raising.

My own disagreements with his rankings are numerous:

Why is Stalin not on the list? If Hitler is on the list, then Stalin should be too. The reason for putting Konev above Zhukov is absurd (Zhukov made the Russians triumph over the Nazis, but it was Konev, Lanning argues, who was the head of the Soviet Army after WW2!!). Why is Ernest King not even mentioned, when his influence is as great as Nimitz? Should MacArthur even be on the list? And why so high, at #20? (This spot should go to Omar Bradley.) Where is John Paul Jones? Rundstedt? Mannstein? Constantine the Great? I don't have a serious problem with placing Washington high on the list - but the first place? (Then Cornwallis should be on the list too. His failure was just as influential.) Where is Agrippa, who won the Roman Empire for Augustus? Where is Arminius, who ambushed the invincible Romans and forced them to stay forever west of the Rhine and south of the Danube?

If these great figures in military history are not on the list, then Lanning should explain why, and mention their names. That's what Michael Hart, the originator of the 100 lists, did in his book. Why should Mao be so low (#40), Wellington be above Marlborough, and Lin Piao and Chiang Kai-shek be even on the list at all? Judging by Lanning's criterion for his rankings, the most influential military leader of all time, in my opinion, is unfortunately Adolf Hitler, whose legacy the whole world will have to live with forever.

Missing are sources, bibliography, AND MAPS (a shocking omission for military history).

Also, a separate chapter discussing the sociological and psychological aspects of ranked leaders - to me the most interesting chapter in Michael Hart's original book - would seem absolutely necessary. (Hart even singles out a medical mystery among the great: a high incidence of gout!) Personally I'd be curious to know the relationship between a talent for mathematics and military leadership. There seems to be a correlation. Whether there's a causal relationship is another matter. Certainly Napoleon, Omar Bradley, and U.S. Grant were good at math, as indeed was Washington, who was once a surveyor - a good indication of their high intelligence, at the very least.

I'm unwilling to give this book more than 2.5 stars. If I could rate this book on a 1-10 scale, I'd give it 5. In the spirit of generosity, I'd round it up to 3 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2012 8:28 AM PDT


Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction (Dover Books on Mathematics)
Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction (Dover Books on Mathematics)
by Morton D. Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.67
100 used & new from $1.31

41 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recreational Read, March 9, 2003
There seems to be a whole cottage industry of books on Game Theory. Not many of them are non-technical, and this is probably the shortest of them. So this is a plus to those with no background and who may not go any further. This book suffers from being slightly out of date.
Game Theory is a subfield not of mathematics but of economics. This despite the fact that one of the greatest mathematicians, Von Neumann, had invented this and that at the advanced level it demands a good deal of higher math. This is a reason why John Nash won the Nobel for economics - and not a Fields Medal (for mathematics).
I think it's dangerous to make life-and-death decisions based on Game Theory. First, it's hardly a real science, only the application of mathematics to social questions. Second, you can easily make an error in your calculations.
This brings to mind Franklin's moral algebra. He advised a friend (Priestly, I think) on how to make intelligent decisions: by dividing the pros and cons into two columns, then giving a value to each in terms of importance (1-10, for example), adding up both columns and comparing the two sums. The larger sum should be the decision. And then he cautioned that real decisions are not necessarily made in this scientific way, although the exercise really sharpens your thinking. At a minimum it forces you to think of all possible pros and cons of a problem. In the end, though, one big pro/con (or two) may decide the matter. And even then, you can't be sure you've made the right decision because maybe you've forgotten something in the arithmetic. Still this is a rational way to think something through, especially on major questions.
The utility of Game Theory is likely to be much less than Franklin's scheme because PEOPLE IN THE REAL WORLD DON'T BOTHER USING IT. Would Roosevelt and Truman have done much better when dealing with Stalin if they had been acquainted with Game Theory? I doubt it, although Game Theory impressed some of the geeks in the Pentagon. (Nor vice versa. Stalin would have just laughed if somebody had tried to "sell" him this academic exercise. He relied on his own judgment.) To this day I have yet to hear that Game Theory is the secret of success of top managers like Jack Welch, Warren Buffett and Sandy Weill.
This book is a good intro to the field and teaches you the basic vocab specialists use. Read it like a book on recreational brainteasers, and you'll have lots of fun. I know I did.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2009 4:02 PM PDT


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