HARRY S. TRUMAN AND THE WAR SCARE OF 1948 by Frank Kofsky

HARRY S. TRUMAN AND THE WAR SCARE OF 1948

A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Hard-digging study of how US foreign policy was reshaped by Truman and his cabinet members by means of disinformation. Drawing on letters, memos, speeches, and periodicals, Kofsky (History/California State; Lenny Bruce, 1974, etc.) presents detailed evidence of how, in March 1948, respected figures like Secretary of State George C. Marshall and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, as well as the man from Missouri himself, manipulated the media in order to orchestrate a war scare (envisioning the Soviet Union as the enemy) in service of the endangered aircraft industry and the European Recovery Plan (a.k.a. the Marshall Plan). The prime movers of the scare apparently had different goals: Marshall's interest was reviving Europe; Forrestal's was aiding the foundering aircraft industry and winning a higher Pentagon budget; and Truman's, with his dismal popularity ratings, was getting control of a Republican Congress and being reelected. ``National security'' was invoked without any concern for facts, says Kofsky: The Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia (seen by the State Department as ``defensive'' and routine) was radically reinterpreted; the Soviet Union was described to Congress as producing impossible numbers of aircraft; and, from Berlin, General Lucius Clay wrote an ominous telegram about Soviet intentions--a telegram ignored by the military and intelligence establishments but taken seriously by Congress and the media. Immediate results of the scare included a 57% increase in the federal aircraft budget, a 30% increase in the Pentagon budget, financing of the Marshall Plan, and a politically revived Truman. Long-term effects included the emergence of a military/industrial complex, intensification of the cold war, and the onset of the arms race. Post-glasnost history of real substance.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09482-5
Page count: 393pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993




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