In Americans at War T. Harry Williams, author of Lincoln and His Generals, offers a concise historical survey of the methods by which the United States government has sought to organize and direct our military forces from the days of the Revolutionary War to the Atomic Age.
In giving his interpretative view of the development of the American command system, Dr. Williams demonstrates convincingly that the American genius—even the genius for making mistakes—has found full expression in the various systems which have been formulated.
During the Revolutionary War, for instance, it was never finally determined just who had the ultimate authority in mapping strategy, Washington or the Continental Congress. The War of 1812 resulted in at least a technical defeat for the United States, Williams says, because of incompetent civilian authority over the military. In the Mexican War and the Civil War, the United States profited from strong war-time presidents, but during the Spanish-American War and World War I the civilian authority left something to be desired.
Military men and the historians will welcome this first attempt to give an overall picture o the American command system through all our wars.
“I know of no man,” one prominent military authority has stated, “who is better qualified by knowledge, insight, and writing ability to discuss the American military experience.”
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