WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Filed Under:

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.

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.