IN THE TIME OF THE AMERICANS by David Fromkin

IN THE TIME OF THE AMERICANS

FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur--The Generation That Changed America's Role in the World

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A fluid account of five men who helped shape the American Century. Fromkin (History/Boston Univ.; A Peace to End All Peace, 1989) examines global geopolitics, focusing on five military and political leaders--Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, and Douglas MacArthur--who, he argues, were the architects of America's 20th-century role. Although Fromkin admits that ``generational biographies'' are considered unscientific, he nonetheless argues that these men, all born in the 1880s, were clear products of their time. America began the 20th century as the most powerful nation in the world, although this position was unacknowledged. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both maintained interventionist policies, bequeathing to the younger men profiled here a philosophy of moralistic internationalism that united them despite their very different positions on the political spectrum. When they came to power, they pressed this agenda aggressively. It had effects both positive (the defeat of Hitler and Japan, America's insistence that Europe give up its colonies, the Marshall Plan) and negative (the Cold War, and military adventurism that led to the Vietnam War). Although Fromkin makes his case cogently, readers will be left wondering at his selection of subjects: Why include MacArthur, who was a military commander without political power? Why exclude John Foster Dulles and Dean Acheson, two secretaries of state arguably as responsible as anyone for America's foreign policy in the 20th century? Even more troubling is the author's admission that he has based the book almost exclusively on a select amount of secondary material. A good introduction for the layperson; flawed for more serious scholars.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1995
ISBN: 0-394-58901-7
Page count: 640pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995




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