Flight of the Eagle


Conrad Black - 2013
    Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

Washington


Douglas Southall Freeman - 1957
    In 1948 renowned biographer and military historian Douglas Southall Freeman won his second Pulitzer Prize for his new and dramatic reexamination of George Washington. For years biographies had gone from idolatry to muckraking in their depictions of this somewhat marbleized Founding Father. Freeman’s new interpretation was a fresh step, making Washington a living, breathing individual, flawed but heroic. An able commander who defeated the British Empire against incredible odds, Washington proved to be just as adept at wielding political power, and adroitly steered our new loosely called nation through the first stormy years of our unproven federal stewardship and the first two presidential administrations. Here with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Kammen, who puts the writing and publication of Washington into perspective, and an afterword by Pulitzer Prize winner Dumas Malone, who explains the travails of Freeman’s grinding work, Washington is the most comprehensive biography available, and its value as an important classic has never been more evident.

The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power


Garry Wills - 1982
    The winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Garry Wills reveals a family that enjoyed public adulation but provided fluctuating leadership, that experienced both unparalleled fame and odd failures, and whose basic values ensnared its men in their own myths of success and masculinity. In the end, Wills reveals that the the Kennedys' crippling conception of power touched every part of their public and private lives, including their relationships with women and world leaders. Sometimes gossipy, sometimes philosophical, The Kennedy Imprisonment is a book that is as true, insightful, and relevant as ever.

Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution


Charles Rappleye - 2010
    Morris started life in the colonies as an apprentice in a counting house. By the time of the Revolution he was a rich man, a commercial and social leader in Philadelphia. He organized a clandestine trading network to arm the American rebels, joined the Second Continental Congress, and financed George Washington’s two crucial victories—Valley Forge and the culminating battle at Yorktown that defeated Cornwallis and ended the war.The leader of a faction that included Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Washington, Morris ran the executive branches of the revolutionary government for years. He was a man of prodigious energy and adroit management skills and was the most successful businessman on the continent. He laid the foundation for public credit and free capital markets that helped make America a global economic leader. But he incurred powerful enemies who considered his wealth and influence a danger to public "virtue" in a democratic society.After public service, he gambled on land speculations that went bad, and landed in debtors prison, where George Washington, his loyal friend, visited him.This once wealthy and powerful man ended his life in modest circumstances, but Rappleye restores his place as a patriot and an immensely important founding father.

JFK's Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA, and the Sino-Indian War


Bruce Riedel - 2015
    Kennedy. But the same week the world stood transfixed by the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, Kennedy was also consumed by a war that has escaped history’s attention, yet still reverberates significantly today: the Sino-Indian conflict.As well-armed and equipped troops from the People’s Republic of China surged into Indian-held territory in October 1962, Kennedy ordered an emergency airlift of supplies to the Indian army. At the same time, he engaged in diplomatic talks that kept the neighboring Pakistanis out of the fighting. The conflict came to an end with a unilateral Chinese cease-fire, relieving Kennedy of a decision to intervene militarily in support of India.Bruce Riedel, a CIA and National Security Council veteran, provides the first full narrative of this crisis, which played out during the tense negotiations with Moscow over Cuba. He also includes another, nearly forgotten episode of US espionage during the war between India and China: covert US support of Tibetan opposition to Chinese occupation of Tibet. He details how the United States, beginning in 1957, trained and parachuted Tibetan guerrillas into Tibet to fight Chinese military forces. The covert operation to help precipitate the conflict but the United States did not end its support of it until relations between the United States and China were normalized in the 1970s.Riedel tells this story of war, diplomacy, and covert action with authority and perspective. He draws on newly declassified letters between Kennedy and Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru along with the diaries and memoirs of key players and other sources make this the definitive account of JFK’s forgotten crisis. This is, Riedel writes, Kennedy’s finest hour as you have never read it before.

Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and the Feud that Defined a Decade


Jeff Shesol - 1997
    Their antagonism, propelled by clashing personalities, contrasting views, and a deep, abiding animosity, would drive them to a bitterness so deep that even civil conversation was often impossible. Played out against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s, theirs was a monumental political battle that would shape federal policy, fracture the Democratic party, and have a lasting effect on the politics of our times. Drawing on previously unexamined recordings and documents, as well as memoirs, biographies, and scores of personal interviews, Jeff Shesol weaves the threads of this epic story into a compelling narrative that reflects the impact of LBJ and RFK's tumultuous relationship on politics, civil rights, the war on poverty, and the war in Vietnam. As Publishers Weekly noted, "This is indispensable reading for both experts on the period and newcomers to the history of that decade." "An exhaustive and fascinating history. . . . Shesol's grasp of the era's history is sure, his tale often entertaining, and his research awesome."—Russell Baker, New York Review of Books "Thorough, provocative. . . . The story assumes the dimensions of a great drama played out on a stage too vast to comprehend."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1997 Critic's Choice) "This is the most gripping political book of recent years."—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution--and What It Means for Americans Today


Thomas J. DiLorenzo - 2008
    Two opposing political philosophies. Two radically different visions for America. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were without question two of the most important Founding Fathers. They were also the fiercest of rivals. Of these two political titans, it is Jefferson—–the revered author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president—–who is better remembered today. But in fact it is Hamilton’s political legacy that has triumphed—–a legacy that has subverted the Constitution and transformed the federal government into the very leviathan state that our forefathers fought against in the American Revolution.How did we go from the Jeffersonian ideal of limited government to the bloated imperialist system of Hamilton’s design? Acclaimed economic historian Thomas J. DiLorenzo provides the troubling answer in Hamilton’s Curse.DiLorenzo reveals how Hamilton, first as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later as the nation’s first and most influential treasury secretary, masterfully promoted an agenda of nationalist glory and interventionist economics—–core beliefs that did not die with Hamilton in his fatal duel with Aaron Burr. Carried on through his political heirs, the Hamiltonian legacy:• Wrested control into the hands of the federal government by inventing the myth of the Constitution’s “implied powers” • Established the imperial presidency (Hamilton himself proposed a permanent president—–in other words, a king)• Devised a national banking system that imposes boom-and-bust cycles on the American economy• Saddled Americans with a massive national debt and oppressive taxation• Inflated the role of the federal courts in order to eviscerate individual liberties and state sovereignty• Pushed economic policies that lined the pockets of the wealthy and created a government system built on graft, spoils, and patronage• Transformed state governments from Jeffersonian bulwarks of liberty to beggars for federal crumbsBy debunking the Hamiltonian myths perpetuated in recent admiring biographies, DiLorenzo exposes an uncomfortable truth: The American people are no longer the masters of their government but its servants. Only by restoring a system based on Jeffersonian ideals can Hamilton’s curse be lifted, at last.

Saving a Continent: The Untold Story of the Marshall Plan


Charles L. Mee Jr. - 2015
    In the aftermath of the war, Europe was in shambles. Nearly all of France, Germany, Italy, and Poland had been devastated. Bridges and roads were gone. Rivers and canals were clogged with sunken ships and fallen bridges. Unexploded bombs and shells littered fields.Postwar inflation whipsawed the survivors: cigarettes, coffee, and chocolate were better currencies than Deutsche marks. Prices rose in Italy to thirty-five times their prewar level. Before the year was over, disastrous harvests across the continent would leave Europeans hungry, and, in some places, even starving.Only two great powers remained strong enough to consider taking over, or materially influencing, Europe - the United States and the Soviet Union. United States Secretary of State George C. Marshall had a plan. Here's the story of that plan and the fascinating man who put it together.

American Amnesia: Business, Government, and the Forgotten Roots of Our Prosperity


Jacob S. Hacker - 2016
    Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. They trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.Like every other prospering democracy, the United States developed a mixed economy that channeled the spirit of capitalism into strong growth and healthy social development. In this bargain, government and business were as much partners as rivals. Public investments in education, science, transportation, and technology laid the foundation for broadly based prosperity. Programs of economic security and progressive taxation provided a floor of protection and business focused on the pursuit of profit—and government addressed needs business could not.The mixed economy was the most important social innovation of the twentieth century. It spread a previously unimaginable level of broad prosperity. It enabled steep increases in education, health, longevity, and economic security. And yet, extraordinarily, it is anathema to many current economic and political elites. And as the advocates of anti-government free market fundamentalist have gained power, they are hell-bent on scrapping the instrument of nearly a century of unprecedented economic and social progress. In American Amnesia, Hacker and Pierson explain how—and why they must be stopped.

The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America


William Kleinknecht - 2008
    The Reagan presidency was epoch shattering, but not--as his propagandists would have it--because it invigorated private enterprise or made America feel strong again. His real legacy was the dismantling of an eight-decade period of reform in which working people were given an unprecedented sway over our politics, our economy, and our culture. Reagan halted this almost overnight.In the tradition of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?, Kleinknecht explores middle America--starting with Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Illinois--and shows that as the Reagan legend grows, his true legacy continues to decimate middle America.

Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution


Mark Puls - 2008
    Knox became an major advocate of the U.S. Constitution and served as the nation's first Secretary of War. He was co-founder of the U.S. Navy, laid the foundations for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and negotiated treaties and set policy with Native Americans.With nail-biting battle scenes, patriotism and deep understanding of his subject, Mark Puls breathes new life into the American Revolution and firmly assigns Knox to his deserved place in history.

15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation


L. Douglas Keeney - 2011
    This is the chilling true story of the incredibly risky steps our military took to protect us from that scenario, including: • Over two thousand loaded bombers that crossed American skies. They sometimes crashed and at least nine times resulted in nuclear weapons being accidentally dropped • A system that would use timers and rockets to launch missiles even after everyone was dead • Disastrous atmospheric nuclear testing including the horrific runaway bomb—that fooled scientists and put thousands of men in uniform in the center of a cloud of hot fallout • A plan to use dry lake beds to rebuild and launch a fighting force in the aftermath of nuclear war Based on formerly classified documents, military records, press accounts, interviews and over 10 years of research, 15 Minutes is one of the most important works on the atom bomb ever written.

American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America to Victory in World War II


Jonathan W. Jordan - 2015
    Roosevelt proved himself a master manipulator of Congress, the press, and the public. But when war in Europe and Asia threatened America’s shores, FDR found himself in a world turned upside down, where his friends became his foes, his enemies his allies. To help wage democracy’s first “total war,” he turned to one of history’s most remarkable triumvirates.Henry Stimson, an old-money Republican from Long Island, rallied to FDR’s banner to lead the Army as Secretary of War, and championed innovative weapons that shape our world today. General George C. Marshall argued with Roosevelt over grand strategy, but he built the world’s greatest war machine and willingly sacrificed his dream of leading the invasion of Europe that made his protégé, Dwight Eisenhower, a legend. Admiral Ernest J. King, a hard-drinking, irascible fighter who “destroyed” Pearl Harbor in a prewar naval exercise, understood how to fight Japan, but he also battled the Army, the Air Force, Douglas MacArthur, and his British allies as they moved armies and fleets across the globe.These commanders threw off sparks whenever they clashed: Generals against politicians, Army versus Navy. But those sparks lit the fire of victory. During four years of bitter warfare, FDR’s lieutenants learned to set aside deep personal, political, and professional differences and pull a nation through the twentieth century's darkest days.Encircling Roosevelt’s warlords—and sometimes bitterly at odds with them—was a colorful cast of the Second World War’s giants: Winston Churchill, MacArthur, Josef Stalin, Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles de Gaulle. These and other larger-than-life figures enrich a sweeping story of an era brimming with steel, fire, and blood.Drawing upon a wealth of primary sources, American Warlords goes behind closed doors to give readers an intimate, often surprising view of titans who led America from isolation to the summit of global power. Written in a robust, engaging style, author Jonathan W. Jordan offers a vivid portrait of four extraordinary Americans in the eye of war’s hurricane.

Freedom's Forge: How American Business Built the Arsenal of Democracy That Won World War II


Arthur Herman - 2012
    And the CEO would oblige, no questions asked, because it was his patriotic duty.   In Freedom’s Forge, bestselling author Arthur Herman takes us back to that time, revealing how two extraordinary American businessmen—automobile magnate William Knudsen and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser—helped corral, cajole, and inspire business leaders across the country to mobilize the “arsenal of democracy” that propelled the Allies to victory in World War II.   “Knudsen? I want to see you in Washington. I want you to work on some production matters.” With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enlisted “Big Bill” Knudsen, a Danish immigrant who had risen through the ranks of the auto industry to become president of General Motors, to drop his plans for market domination and join the U.S. Army. Commissioned a lieutenant general, Knudsen assembled a crack team of industrial innovators, persuading them one by one to leave their lucrative private sector positions and join him in Washington, D.C. Dubbed the “dollar-a-year men,” these dedicated patriots quickly took charge of America’s moribund war production effort.   Henry J. Kaiser was a maverick California industrialist famed for his innovative business techniques and his can-do management style. He, too, joined the cause. His Liberty ships became World War II icons—and the Kaiser name became so admired that FDR briefly considered making him his vice president in 1944. Together, Knudsen and Kaiser created a wartime production behemoth. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, they turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions, giving Americans fighting in Europe and Asia the tools they needed to defeat the Axis. In four short years they transformed America’s army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for a new industrial America—and for the country’s rise as an economic as well as military superpower.   Featuring behind-the-scenes portraits of FDR, George Marshall, Henry Stimson, Harry Hopkins, Jimmy Doolittle, and Curtis LeMay, as well as scores of largely forgotten heroes and heroines of the wartime industrial effort, Freedom’s Forge is the American story writ large. It vividly re-creates American industry’s finest hour, when the nation’s business elites put aside their pursuit of profits and set about saving the world.

31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today


Barry Werth - 2006
    The congressional hearings, Nixon’s increasing paranoia, and, finally, the devastating revelations of the White House tapes had torn the country apart. Within the White House and the Republican Party, Nixon’s resignation produced new fissures and battle lines—and new opportunities for political advancement.Ford had to reassure the nation and the world that he would attend to the pressing issues of the day, from resolving the legal questions surrounding Nixon’s role in Watergate, to dealing with the wind down of the Vietnam War, the precarious state of détente with the Soviet Union, and the ongoing attempts to stabilize the Middle East. Within hours of Nixon’s departure from Washington, Ford began the all-important task of forming an inner circle of trusted advisers.In richly detailed scenes, Werth describes the often vicious sparring among two mutually distrustful staffs—Nixon’s and Ford’s vice presidential holdovers—and a transition team that included Donald Rumsfeld (then Nixon’s ambassador to NATO) and Rumsfeld’s former deputy, the thirty-three-year-old coolly efficient Richard Cheney. The first detailed account of the ruthless maneuvering and day-to-day politicking behind everything from the pardon of Nixon to why George H. W. Bush was passed over for the vice presidency, to the rise of a new cadre of Republican movers and shakers, 31 Days offers a compelling perspective on a fascinating but relatively unexamined period in American history and its impact on the present.