Thomas Sowell

It looked like an impending defeat, with major international repercussions. But General Ridgway somehow navigated through the military complications on the battlefield and the political complications at home, all at the same time, and saved the day.

A similar situation faced General David Petraeus, who was appointed to lead a troop "surge" in Iraq, where things had gotten so out of control that virtually no one believed he could succeed. Moreover, even when he did succeed, most of the media refused to believe it, until the facts about declining fatalities and a rising Iraqi economy made his success impossible to continue denying.

It is worth noting that those who made all-out political attacks on General Petraeus during the "surge" included Senators who are now the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Secretary of State and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All this is covered in "The Savior Generals."

Perhaps the book's most dramatic example of a turnaround in a militarily dicey situation was that of General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War. The war was going so badly that some considered it doubtful whether the Republicans would even nominate Abraham Lincoln for a second term, and it was more than doubtful whether he could win reelection.

It was only after General Sherman's unconventional, daring-- and successful-- march through Georgia, splitting the South in half, that Lincoln was reelected, surprising everyone including Lincoln.

"The Savior Generals" covers not only military history but also the social and political history that provides the context in which military events took place. It leaves us a lot to think about, as regards the issues and predicaments of our own time.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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