Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948: A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation

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9780312094829: Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948: A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation

Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948 reveals how during the first half of 1948, Truman and the two most important members of his cabinet, Marshall and Forrestal, systematically deceived Congress and the public into thinking that the U.S.S.R. was about to launch World War III with an invasion of Western Europe. As Professor Kofsky demonstrates, however, virtually every intelligence report coming into Washington - from military and civilian sources alike - asserted the exact opposite: that the Soviets were far too exhausted from battling the Nazis even to think about undertaking such an attack. By making use of previously classified records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Kofsky shows that Truman and his associates were willing to lie to the country in order to push through their foreign policy program, inaugurate a huge military buildup, and bail out the near-bankrupt aircraft industry. The lack of scruple with which high-ranking members of the Truman administration misrepresented Soviet intentions and the profoundly damaging repercussions of Truman's duplicity are just two of the many important subjects that Kofsky treats in this disturbing and engrossing book. It will force us to see both the Cold War and Truman in a new light.

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About the Author:

Frank Kofsky is Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Hard-digging study of how US foreign policy was reshaped by Truman and his cabinet members by means of disinformation. Drawing on letters, memos, speeches, and periodicals, Kofsky (History/California State; Lenny Bruce, 1974, etc.) presents detailed evidence of how, in March 1948, respected figures like Secretary of State George C. Marshall and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, as well as the man from Missouri himself, manipulated the media in order to orchestrate a war scare (envisioning the Soviet Union as the enemy) in service of the endangered aircraft industry and the European Recovery Plan (a.k.a. the Marshall Plan). The prime movers of the scare apparently had different goals: Marshall's interest was reviving Europe; Forrestal's was aiding the foundering aircraft industry and winning a higher Pentagon budget; and Truman's, with his dismal popularity ratings, was getting control of a Republican Congress and being reelected. ``National security'' was invoked without any concern for facts, says Kofsky: The Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia (seen by the State Department as ``defensive'' and routine) was radically reinterpreted; the Soviet Union was described to Congress as producing impossible numbers of aircraft; and, from Berlin, General Lucius Clay wrote an ominous telegram about Soviet intentions--a telegram ignored by the military and intelligence establishments but taken seriously by Congress and the media. Immediate results of the scare included a 57% increase in the federal aircraft budget, a 30% increase in the Pentagon budget, financing of the Marshall Plan, and a politically revived Truman. Long-term effects included the emergence of a military/industrial complex, intensification of the cold war, and the onset of the arms race. Post-glasnost history of real substance. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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