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While history has been kind to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—it has been less kind to the generals of the wars that followed, such as Koster, Franks, Sanchez, and Petraeus. In The Generals, Thomas E. Ricks sets out to explain why that is. In chronicling the widening gulf between performance and accountability among the top brass of the U.S. military, Ricks tells the stories of great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and generals who failed themselves and their soldiers. In Ricks’s hands, this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.

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