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Presidents of War

Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 26 hrs and 4 mins
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)
Non-member price: $53.64
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Publisher's Summary

From a preeminent presidential historian comes a groundbreaking and often surprising saga of America’s wartime chief executives.

Ten years in the research and writing, Presidents of War is a fresh, magisterial, intimate look at a procession of American leaders as they took the nation into conflict and mobilized their country for victory. It brings us into the room as they make the most difficult decisions that face any president, at times sending hundreds of thousands of American men and women to their deaths. 

From James Madison and the War of 1812 to recent times, we see them struggling with Congress, the courts, the press, their own advisors, and antiwar protesters; seeking comfort from their spouses, families, and friends; and dropping to their knees in prayer. We come to understand how these presidents were able to withstand the pressures of war - both physically and emotionally - or were broken by them.

Beschloss’s interviews with surviving participants in the drama and his findings in original letters, diaries, once-classified national security documents, and other sources help him to tell this story in a way it has not been told before. Presidents of War combines the sense of being there with the overarching context of two centuries of American history. This important audiobook shows how far we have traveled from the time of our founders, who tried to constrain presidential power, to our modern day, when a single leader has the potential to launch nuclear weapons that can destroy much of the human race.

©2018 Michael Beschloss (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sparkle and bite.... Valuable and engrossing study of how our chief executives have discharged the most significant of all their duties.... Excellent.... A fluent narrative that covers two centuries of national conflict.” (Richard Snow, The Wall Street Journal)

“This spirited account, reminiscent of The Oxford History of the United States, will captivate history buffs and interest scholars of the institutional presidency and the Constitution.” (Library Journal, starred review)

"The renowned historian explores America's wars through its presidents. In another masterful work of research, Beschloss demonstrates his erudite grasp of the history of the executive branch. The Founders gave Congress the power to 'declare' (not make) war; the executive has power only to repel attacks.... As he clearly shows throughout this illuminating narrative, during every war, the president has received extraordinary powers; some used it well, while others abused it. The author's highly readable style and ability to pinpoint the most relevant facts make this a perfect book for any student of American history and its presidents." (Kirkus, starred review) 

"Beschloss offers a sweeping history of American presidents seeking and waging war.... He provides insight into the motivations of American leaders; presidents’ battles with other branches of government; their degree of respect for civil liberties; and the role of personality, emotion, and the general political climate as American commanders-in-chief executed the power of the country’s military forces.... Ample detail and enticing storytelling.” (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Liana
  • 18-10-2018

Heads up: Chapters are out of order

The recording starts with Chapter 7 starting with the civil war. Half way through, it jumps back to Chapter 1. Luckily, this is a history so it's not crucial to be in order but it is annoying.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Viazoy
  • 28-10-2018

Good Book; Muffled Sound

There was so much interesting content in this book that I was especially disappointed in the recording. I have many other Audible books that are clear and easy to understand. But this one sounded muffled, as if it were being recorded into a pillow. I don’t think the problem was with the narrator either. I think perhaps the recording environment may have been the problem.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Purchaser
  • 10-10-2018

An Amazing Book about a very Important Subject!!

A great survey of WH management of wars. It is a recommended read/listen for any serious student of the military and political history of the world, not just the US.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-01-2019

If you love history

This well researched book is what you’d expect from a preeminent historian like Beschloss. Listen and learn.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph Hopple
  • 29-12-2018

First audible book I could not listen to!

This is the first audible book I could not stand to listen to . A boring narrative that I am deleting .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • wayne goldman
  • 05-12-2018

Presidents of War

Educational. Learning US history I should have learned in school.
Well written. Kept me interested.
Good narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • PMaycumber
  • 13-11-2018

War

The background of War from 1812 onward explains how presidential powers came about and vest in executive branch of government.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Louis Macareo
  • 27-10-2018

Extremely ambitious and It Accomplished its Goals

it is hard to believe that I just finished a book of such breadth and relatively substantial depth. Kudosvto Beschloss for having the stamina and vision to even undertake such a work.

So what did I learn? Politics and politicians are messy and when you are the boss, critics are a dime a dozen . . . and should often be listened to. Obviously, war is a horrible undertaking and it is amazing how frequently it takes on a life of its own. Of all the tragedies, Vietnam is the most painful. Practicallt every motherf**ker responsible knew from the earliest moments that it was a mistake, we were lilely backing the wrong side and that it was unwinable through ground conbat. Anyway, that is a tangent. Most interesting was the intimate sense Beschloss gives of being in the room and head of the decisionmakers throughout our history post-Washington. Much food for thought on decisionmaking and leadership.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Craig P. Caggiano
  • 02-02-2019

AWFUL

Writing is ponderous. Performance is monotone. Author's agenda is clear. Far, far too hard on Truman for Korea. Too easy on Wilson. FDR escapes any serious criticism for failing to see the dangers of Nazism with American no military preparedness. The interment of innocent Japanese-Americans. The cluster of the fleet at Pearl Harbor; he was warned against. His failure to bomb the concentration camps rail lines. The disaster of the Yalta conference.

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  • Howard Kweller
  • 16-12-2018

Brilliant historical work

Thanks Mr Beschloss!
Your brilliantly researched and detailed historical work is a must read. The quotes alone are worth the read.
I would love to hear you read it, BTW.
Many thanks, Mr. Beschloss