HW BRANDS - The General vs The President



Tuesday, October 11th at 7pm

Historian & Bestselling Author
speaking & signing
The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War






During the height of the Korean War, President Truman mistakenly made a remark to a reporter that General Douglas MacArthur had authority of the United States’ nuclear arsenal. Although a correction was quickly made, this remark sparked a clash of wills between an unpopular president and an extremely popular military officer. In his new book, The General vs. The President, historian and New York Times-bestselling author H.W. Brands explores this drama at the height of political power and sets it against the backdrop of a world teetering close to a third world war. Join us tonight as we welcome H.W. Brands who will discuss his latest work and sign copies of The General vs. The President.


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 U.N. 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 and the President vividly evokes the making of a new American era.


H. W. BRANDS holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin. A New York Times bestselling author, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography for The First American and Traitor to His Class.

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Event date: 
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385540575
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - October 11th, 2016

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