March 3, 2008

Book Review - The Pentagon and the Presidency

The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush
Dale R. Herspring
E 745 .H47 2005

As the Commander in Chief, the President has always kept a close eye on the military. The relationship between the President and the senior military leadership, however, is not always an easy one. This book examines that relationship, relying particularly on the perspectives of senior leaders in the United States military. Chapter focus on individual Presidents, discussing their leadership styles, the role of their primary advisors, presenting case studies of interactions between them. In the final chapter, Herspring evaluates the Presidents as a group, comparing and contrasting them according to their degree of conflict with the military. Herspring concludes that the amount of conflict between the President and the military is primarily dependent on the amount of genuine respect for military culture than an individual President demonstrates. He also shows how the relationship of the military has changed over time, becoming increasingly political and responsive not only to the Commander in Chief, but equally accountable to Congress.