Elusive Victories: the American Presidency at War

Elusive Victories the American Presidency at War On April Abraham Lincoln made a shocking admission about his presidency during the Civil War I claim not to have controlled events he wrote in a letter but confess plainly that events have

  • Title: Elusive Victories: the American Presidency at War
  • Author: Andrew J. Polsky
  • ISBN: 9780199860937
  • Page: 242
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Elusive Victories: the American Presidency at War

    On April 4, 1864, Abraham Lincoln made a shocking admission about his presidency during the Civil War I claim not to have controlled events, he wrote in a letter, but confess plainly that events have controlled me Lincoln s words carry an invaluable lesson for wartime presidents, writes Andrew J Polsky in this seminal book As Polsky shows, when commanders in chiefOn April 4, 1864, Abraham Lincoln made a shocking admission about his presidency during the Civil War I claim not to have controlled events, he wrote in a letter, but confess plainly that events have controlled me Lincoln s words carry an invaluable lesson for wartime presidents, writes Andrew J Polsky in this seminal book As Polsky shows, when commanders in chief do try to control wartime events, often than not they fail utterly In Elusive Victories, Polsky provides a fascinating study of six wartime presidents, drawing larger lessons about the limits of the power of the White House during armed conflict He examines, in turn, Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George W Bush, and Barack Obama, showing how each gravely overestimated his power as commander in chief In each case, these presidents resources did not match the key challenges that recur from war to war Both Lincoln and Johnson intervened in military operations, giving orders to specific units yet both struggled with the rising unpopularity of their conflicts Both Wilson and Bush entered hostilities with idealistic agendas for the aftermath, yet found themselves helpless to enact them With insight and clarity, Polsky identifies overarching issues that will inform current and future policymakers The single most important dynamic, he writes, is the erosion of a president s freedom of action Each decision propels him down a path from which he cannot turn back When George W Bush rejected the idea of invading Iraq with 400,000 troops, he could not send such a force two years later as the insurgency spread In the final chapter, Polsky examines Barack Obama s options in light of these conclusions, and considers how the experiences of the past might inform the world we face now Elusive Victories is the first book to provide a comprehensive account of presidential leadership during wartime, highlighting the key dangers that presidents have ignored at their peril.

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      242 Andrew J. Polsky
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      Posted by:Andrew J. Polsky
      Published :2018-01-03T20:52:03+00:00

    One thought on “Elusive Victories: the American Presidency at War

    1. Fr. Ted

      I try to read one American history book each year, and this was my pick for the summer. I really enjoyed his look at 5 American Presidents and how they handled war: Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson-Nixon, and GW Bush. I especially found the history of the Vietnam and Iraq wars interesting. The rest of the book is his describing the metric by which he measures the success or failure of the various presidencies in how they handled war. He notes that "victory" is often elusive because of how vic [...]

    2. Brian Morris

      I thought this was a very readable and balanced history of the American Presidency at wartime. It's also a sobering reminder of how rarely Presidents have achieved their goals, especially in terms of their vision for the post-war world. Even Lincoln did not fare very well in that arena.

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