Thomas E. Ricks

Now that the election is over and won, there's the matter of two long, bloody, unfunded wars to end. The Pulitzer-winning journalist Thomas E. Ricks has had much to say on those conflicts in his highly critical (and highly praised) Fiasco and The Gamble. His latest effort has a longer historical reach: The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to the Present (Penguin, $32.95). Still, in discussing Eisenhower and khaki company, present context counts for a lot. Ike was the exceptional leader who achieved greatness in uniform and out; and it was he who warned against the military-industrial complex, how the Cold War would become a self-perpetuating sinkhole for tax dollars better spent on social programs. Fifty years after that famous White House farewell speech, we're still trying to balance those priorities, to pay the war bills that W and the neocons would not. In his new book, Ricks describes the cost of keeping bad generals at their command (think: Douglas MacArthur), both in terms of blood and money. If you're not willing to change military leaders, he argues, expensive wars drag on forever. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Nov. 16, 7 p.m., 2012

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