Upon assuming the presidency in 1953, Dwight Eisenhower came to be seen by many as a doddering lightweight. Yet behind the bland smile and apparent simplemindedness was a brilliant, intellectual tactician. As Evan Thomas reveals in his provocative examination of Ike's White House years, Eisenhower was a master of calculated duplicity. As with his bridge and poker games he was eventually forced to stop playing after leaving too many fellow army officers insolvent, Ike could be patient and ruthless in the con, and generous and expedient in his partnerships. Facing the Soviet Union, China, and his own generals, some of whom believed a first strike was the only means of survival, Eisenhower would make his boldest and riskiest bet yet, one of such enormity that there could be but two outcomes: the survival of the world, or its end.
This is the story of how he won.
©2012 Evan Thomas (P)2012 Hachette Audio
Listening to the audio part 1, I wondered if this author had forgotten how to write history. He opens with an endless prologue, endlessly stitching together vignettes and stories about Ike, in no discernible order, many times repeating stories, all to set up his theme, which is that Ike governed much the way he played poker. FINALLY I skipped to Part 2 and was very pleasantly surprised. We get vivid depictions of Ike facing off against the demons in his cabinet, the CIA, Russia, and his own complex personality. Gripping history and excellent biography. The ending is also too long. Where was this author's editor?! Recommended for listeners who are not afraid to skip forward on their iPod.
I grew up in the forties and fifties so the story of Eisenhower was one central to my youth. I found it fascinating to gain a new insight into the man and the times. While ones political sensibilities may color your reception to the book, it was in most ways relatively apolitical, focusing more on international issues.
It works well as an audiobook, although from time to time it seemed to jump around in chronology.
I found the book surprisingly enjoyable.
Lawyer in private practice in Little Rock with advanced degree hours in humanities with emphasi in history and English Reformation era.
This book was intriguing because it laid out in remarkable detail Ike's understated leadership qualities. The picture of Ike accumulating consensus for a very confrontational nuclear strategy was engrossing. This listen was hard to stop once started.
I think it's a good book that is worth reading/listening to; however, if you've read about Eisenhower's Administration before, you won't find much eyeopening in this book.
Yes, so much History hard to take it in all at once.
This is when I was in grade school and it was nice to have the history of the time reviewed.
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