The General vs. the President

  • by H. W. Brands
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 15 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From master storyteller and historian H. W. Brands, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, comes the riveting story of how President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur squared off to decide America's future in the aftermath of World War II.
At the height of the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman committed a gaffe that sent shock waves around the world. When asked by a reporter about the possible use of atomic weapons in response to China's entry into the war, Truman replied testily, "The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has." This suggested that General Douglas MacArthur, the willful, fearless, and highly decorated commander of the American and UN forces, had his finger on the nuclear trigger. A correction quickly followed, but the damage was done; two visions for America's path forward were clearly in opposition, and one man would have to make way.
Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Heir to a struggling economy, a ruined Europe, and increasing tension with the Soviet Union, on no issue was the path ahead clear and easy. General MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The lessons he drew from World War II were absolute: appeasement leads to disaster, and a showdown with the Communists was inevitable - the sooner the better. In the nuclear era, when the Soviets, too, had the bomb, the specter of a catastrophic third world war lurked menacingly close on the horizon.
The contest of wills between these two titanic characters unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of a faraway war and terrors conjured at home by Joseph McCarthy. From the drama of Stalin's blockade of West Berlin to the daring landing of MacArthur's forces at Inchon to the shocking entrance of China into the war, The General vs. the President vividly evokes the making of a new American era.

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What the Critics Say

"Scott Brick's narration shines as he delivers Brands's detailed account of the ultimate battle for military control between a struggling President Truman and a rogue General MacArthur.... Thanks to the talents of narrator and author, a broad audience will find this a riveting listen that goes beyond the simple historical facts to reveal the real men who, for a brief time, controlled the fate of the world." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent - Had Me Hooked In Five Minutes

Would you listen to The General vs. the President again? Why?

This is an excellent combination of factual history and the more personal, subjective outlooks of the two protagonists.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The General vs. the President?

The chapter covering Truman's 1948 election win was very well done.


What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Scott Brick is always reliable and gets the nuances of a text just right. I wish more narrators were as good.


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, just maintained my interest very well and made me regret when it ended.


Any additional comments?

I shall sample Mr. Brands' other work on this basis.

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- Boobie

A masterpiece of compelling listening

I found this audio book totally absorbing. As much a page turner as any Clancy-type thriller.
Very well written and brilliantly narrated.
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- Carol Crowther

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-10-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio