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Thomas Ricks: "The Generals"

Thomas Ricks, as shown in an AP file photo provided by Penguin Press in 2005.
(AP Photo/The Penguin Press/ Maj. David Olson)
Thomas Ricks, as shown in an AP file photo provided by Penguin Press in 2005.

Leadership during wartime can bring dramatic victories and resounding failures, shaping the legacies of both the generals who lead wars and the countries in conflict. Though retired four-star Army Gen. David Petraeus and Marine Gen. John Allen are considered masterminds behind U.S. military strategy in an unpopular war, recent analysis has been devoted to their roles in a sex scandal. Veteran military reporter Thomas Ricks thinks that's a problem. He chronicles the decline of American military leadership from World War II to today in his new book, "The Generals." Ricks joins Kojo to look at some of U.S. history's top generals, and explore how today's commanders are adapting -- or not -- to the demands of modern warfare.

Video: Inside The Studio

Veteran military reporter Thomas Ricks weighed in on the sex scandal engulfing retired four-star Army Gen. David Petraeus and Marine Gen. John Allen. Ricks said the real scandal is the taxpayer funds invested in an FBI investigation of the matter, as well as the lack of attention Americans pay to military leadership. "We seem to care more about the sex lives of our generals than we do about the real lives of our soldiers," Ricks said. He added that news media devoted a disproportionate amount of time talking about the American security contractors killed in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, when hundreds of contractors have been killed in Iraq without nearly as much press.

Read An Excerpt

Excerpt from "The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today" by Thomas E. Ricks. Copyright 2012 by Thomas E. Ricks. Reprinted here by permission of Penguin Press. All rights reserved.

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