You Must Own This Book: Great Wars and Great Leaders

Anyone who thinks that they know anything about World War I, Harry S Truman, or Winston Churchill should first read Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal by Ralph Raico. Once they do, they might realize just how little they really know. I have taught and researched American history for a quarter century but there was a lot here that was completely new to me.

In elegant, and often witty, prose, Raico demolishes interpretations that all too many historians, and members of the reading public, take for granted. Few single volumes by any historian pack so much punch, and or have so much breadth.

Raico shows, for example, that historians who accept the Fischer Thesis, which puts the main blame for World War I on Germany, as the “last word” on the subject are sadly mistaken.

Raico pokes apart the standard assumption that Winston Churchill was a far-sighted and principled wartime leader who consistently opposed Communism. Champions of Truman as a great president will find it hard to explain away stunning evidence of the “plucky little man from Missouri’s” habitual resort to emergency powers and politically cynical war scares.

Those of us in need of rich material for lectures in American history, on the other hand, will be able to profit from a treasure trove of revealing quotations, richly illustrative anecdotes, and high-powered interpretation. Ralph Raico has performed a great service in writing this book.

David Beito is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and editor of the Independent book, The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (with Peter Gordon and Alexander Tabarrok).
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