Every weekday, Clark Porter, a tall man with a sturdy build, walks into the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis to work with tough ex-offenders. On the outside, he wears a suit and tie. But on the inside, he has more in common with the former felons than most.
Back in 1986, a skinny 17-year-old Porter went on trial there as an adult for robbing a post office at gunpoint. His sentence: 35 years.
In The Generals, Thomas Ricks argues that the failures in America's recent wars can be directly traced to failures of those in command.
Ricks examines U.S. military leadership from World War Two to the present day, and concludes that the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan can be traced to the Army's inability to come to terms with all the lessons of Vietnam.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
CONAN: That was the scene this morning outside the Michigan statehouse in Lansing as activists protested the legislature's work on two bills to rewrite the state's labor laws and make Michigan the 24th state in the country to become a right to work state. Rick Pluta, the managing editor and statehouse bureau chief for Michigan Public Radio Network, joins us now by phone from the statehouse. Nice to have you on the program today.