Saturday, January 12, 2008

Five best books about the role of commander in chief

Thomas W. Evans, author of The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism, named a five best list of "exemplary books about the role of commander in chief" for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:
Commander in Chief
By Eric Larrabee
Harper & Row, 1987

Eric Larrabee, who died in 1990 at age 68, is remembered as a man of culture and the arts. But before a career of deanships, editing jobs and administrative posts, he fought in World War II in an Army tank-destroyer battalion and in military intelligence. He was awarded a Bronze Star medal. This book about his commander in chief is subtitled "Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants, and Their War." Larrabee studies the president in wartime performing his constitutional duty to "command the commanders," to borrow a phrase from Edward Bates, Lincoln's attorney general. FDR's "lieutenants" are nine generals -- including Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur and Lemay -- who are each given chapter-length consideration. Clearly, the book was a labor of love. Larrabee once said, "I read for 30 years and wrote for three and a half," and it shows: In addition to displaying the results of deep research, "Commander in Chief" is gracefully written. One section begins: "For the Army, the water is forbidding barrier, for the Navy, a broad and inviting highway." It's no wonder that experts in the field -- John Keegan and Drew Middleton among them -- regard "Commander in Chief" so highly.

Read about the other books on Evans' list.

--Marshal Zeringue