The Generals

The Generals

American Military Command From World War II to Today

Book - 2012
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An epic history of the decline of American military leadership from World War II to Iraq.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2012
ISBN: 9781594204043
Characteristics: 558 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Sep 15, 2016

After reading (most) of the below comments, I feel I was
remiss in not commenting on The Generals, which has had a powerful influence on me. Comparing the greats like Marshall and even Eisenhower with today's timeservers and toadies was devastating.

Aug 26, 2016

As someone who has always thought highly of Gen. Marshall, it is good to read a book that in many ways compares him to his contemporaries as well as those whom have followed afterwards. Today's military is strictly political and frankly I don't see how it could NOT be given the budgets and the aversion of serious self-evaluation. I write this review the same week there is a report out that the Army can't account for a trillion dollars (with a T) and yet it isn't even front page news. Is it any wonder the leaders of such an organization are utterly incompetent in many ways and work within a system that promotes lies and does NOT reward competency?

Before I go on a longer rant, the book covers many generals and not just the very top tier of the defense establishment. From WWII through present day and Ricks does not seem to pull any punches. I do think he seems to view Patraeus too favorably, but obviously that is just my opinion.

But he does go a long way to explaining why since WWII the US has not actually won a war. Battles, yes. Wars, no.

LRS1969 Mar 04, 2015

EVERYTHING that Petraeus did in his military and post military life has had one and only one agenda - to do what is right for Petraeus and his personal benefit. Entitlement is an expectation of his (which he got even in "the end"... a deal that converts multiple severe felonies demanding decades of imprisonment down to one misdemeanor that carries no jail time and allows him to maintain his oligarchic and highly wealthy post treasonous career!).

So much for his oft repeated claims of innocence. And this is the deal if the century. He should have been prosecuted for every count and once convicted, sentenced to life without parole in Leavenworth!

"Petraeus Takes Plea Deal"

LRS1969 Jan 15, 2015

StarGladiator pretty much hit the nail on the head with his review. Author Ricks himself saw much of the problem as touched upon in his book "Fiasco", but then himself gets caught up in the Petraeus mystique as evidenced by Ricks' follow-up book "Gamble". (And as recent events have shown, the "surge" was only to buy us time to get out of Iraq, a withdrawal negotiated by the Bush administration with the Iraqi National Government, then he - Petraeus - accomplished nothing in Afghanistan, and after engineering an appointment as the CIA Director was dumped after a few months when his adulterous affair with a junior officer, authoring his biography, came out... oh yes, and the FBI and DOJ is currently looking at indictments against Petraeus for releasing highly secret information, while CIA Director, to his "sweetie"). Petraeus, just another in a long line of military commanders who worship Ego, Ambition, and the "3 Ps"... Power, Perks, and Privileges!

Jul 15, 2013

Interesting book for those interested in 'why' recent wars have turned out the way they did. This information is simply not reported by the general media.

May 11, 2013

Fundamentally, the author really doesn't comprehend that the general officers are the best coverup specialists, from either The Korean War or the Vietnam War and on - - John McCain's daddy covered up a bunch of stuff, culminating with his coverup of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. No real moral and ethical and competent leader makes it above the rank of colonel (e.g., Donald MacGregor, Lt.Col. Yingling during the Iraq War, and so forth). The last honest and honorable general officer was Gen. Smedley Butler, and for the lowdown on that gentleman, please read "The Plot to Seize the White House".

Feb 27, 2013

Pretty clear argument by Ricks--a former Pentagon employee and longtime military reporter--that difficulties in military interventions since WWII has been a failure of leadership at the top of the military chain of command. Despite it being clear that nearly all us actions are against entrenched locals, planners still plan for the Big One with China, Russia, You Name It. Leadership of Johnson, Nixon, and Bush II has not helped.

Dec 31, 2012

From general George C. Marshall the leader to David Petraeus a ??? Awesome-masterpiece-like good reading historical facts all about generals and generaship in American Military Command.Some generals are born and some are made,meaning litrary made just beacuse one happened to be the ex-president's mom classmade like two times loser Tommy Franks (remembering those who died following poor leaders). As Napoleon had said " there are no bad soldiers, only bad generals".Born generals like Patton and Schwarzkopf who were misjudged and misread.Generals most able or not able,a son of rabbi,those risen from the enlisted ranks, an orphan or an adopted orphan who run away not wanting to be a miner as a teenager to join the army. One who grow partly in Iran with a strong militray culture living with differences, respecting different cultures than his and understanding them. Or the one from South Bronx who benefitted from the best of the two worlds he was born into and was in the right places at the right times but also knew his limitation. It is about military leadership that panishes a private who lost his rifle more than a general who lost his part of a war. About restoring military leadership, it is about a lost military culture...I liked this book so much I read it again...

Dec 15, 2012

This book examines some serious issues with how the US Army trains and promotes its officers, focusing on those in the highest ranks. Ricks does a good job documenting some of the problems, but I feel he focuses too much on relief and reassignment, too little on how the army trains, educates, and prepares its officers, and on the problems of leadership in voluntary wars. The book is worth reading, but left me feeling the author ultimately misses the mark.


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Feb 14, 2013

In the absence of orders and guidance,figure out what they should have been and exercise vigorously.

Feb 05, 2013

The Army has been far better at improving tactically than it has been at improving strategically.

Feb 05, 2013

American generalship in Iraq in 2003 and the following years is too often a tale of ineptitude by a wholesale failure of accountability.

Feb 05, 2013

Marshall's approach to generalship was to speak truth to power.


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