Why General MacArthur And President Truman Clashed In The Early 1950's

Jul 7, 2017

This program was originally broadcast in March, 2017.

Six decades ago, President Harry Truman made a decision to fire an incredibly popular general with near celebrity status: General Douglas MacArthur. Was it a good decision? Only the future would tell.

It was a difficult decision at a critical time. The Cold War had reached a crisis point. People around the world lived in fear of the atomic bomb and the Chinese had joined the Korean War against the United States and its allies.

The president wanted to contain the war and the general wanted to expand it. The world needed to get serious about arms control. Or, was it too late? And who had the authority to make decisions on the brink of a nuclear World War III?

H.W. Brands explores this fascinating period in American history in his latest book, The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War.  Dr. Brands is the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, the author of 25 books, and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.