Author of the best-seller FDR, Jean Edward Smith is a master of the presidential biography. Setting his sights on Dwight D. Eisenhower, Smith delivers a rich account of Eisenhower’s life using previously untapped primary sources. From the military service in WWII that launched his career to the shrewd political decisions that kept America out of wars with the Soviet Union and China, Smith reveals a man who never faltered in his dedication to serving America, whether in times of war or peace.
©2012 Jean Edward Smith (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC
“Always engrossing . . . Smith describes a man who commanded the largest coalition army in history without grandiloquent posturing . . . leaving office more popular than any successor. . . . Smith portrays a genuinely admirable Eisenhower: smart, congenial, unpretentious, and no ideologue. Despite competing biographies from Ambrose, Perret, and D’Este, this is the best.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“Dwight Eisenhower, who was more cunning than he allowed his adversaries to know, understood the advantage of being underestimated. Jean Edward Smith refutes this durable misunderstanding. Smith, America’s greatest living biographer, demonstrates why, now more than ever, Americans should like Ike.” (George F. Will)
“Jean Smith, indubitably America’s most distinguished biographer, has now produced the classic life of Dwight Eisenhower…Here he comes alive on every page—the beneficiary of the exhausting fresh research this handsomely written book is based upon. When the General died, Mamie, his lifelong wife, allowed that she never fully knew her famous husband. No reader of Smith’s work will render the same complaint.” (Henry F. Graff, Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University)
There are little biographies that are just an accumulation of anecdotes and then there are serious biographies. This is a serious biography, and unfortunately, the worst I have read.
In military endeavors things often go wrong and the author was very quick to say it was Eisenhower's fault. That's okay. The top guy can get the blame. But when things went right, the author frequently said Ike was just lucky. Sorry, that's not fair.
In the early pages of the book, long before Ike was President the author spoke about what wonderful social change came from Eisenhower's Supreme Court appointments. Conservatives and moderates might not agree. Coming so early in the book it seems like this was the author's bias...or worse yet, the author's activism.
Once the biography reached Ike's presidency, Smith's strong left-wing feelings were much to prevalent. He referred to conservatives in the Republican Party as "crack-pots" and as "the calcified wing" of the party. Smith's prejudice was so strong that when I finished I was not sure how much I could believe of what I had just read.
The book was well researched and encapsulated his life and personality objectively. A little too much emphasis was placed on the affair with Kate Sommersby. It would be disingenuous to omit this facet of the man's life. Unfortunately, the author seemed a little obsessed with the ordeal and potentially loses the listener. Overall a great book and strongly recommend.
Wonderful, very readable (or listenable) biography of an important American. This book covers Eisenhower, warts and all, in vivid detail. Recommend.
I would give anything for us to have leaders like this today. Eisenhower embodies all that is desired in a political leader and spoke some of the greatest truths our country needs to hear today. This book is excellently written and I enjoyed every second of it.
I thought this to be a very even handed presentation of Eisenhower that gave me a better understanding of the man and the times he lived through. The reader did a very appropriate job of clearly telling the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for many reasons, partly because history is a hobby of mine and I have special interest in WWII and Cold War. BUT during the 2016 election cycle in particular, I think it will make for a very interesting read (at least the last third on Eisenhower's Presidency) for Republicans and Democrats alike, as it gives a needed window into a past where compromise, bipartisanship, and effective governance were easier to come by.
Eisenhower balanced the budget (no small task, post WWII!), was a foreign policy pro during the height of the Cold War, and he is the only President of the 20th Century to preside over 8 consecutive years of uninterrupted peace and prosperity.
These are hallmarks of what Republicans past and present claim they can do, but what sets him apart from today's Republicans (the vast majority anyway), is that He also: (1) was a staunch opposer of McCarthyite fear mongering, (2) he raised the federal minimum wage to over $9/hr (in 2016 dollars), and (3) he was the first president ever to attempt passage of universal healthcare for all Americans, based on healthcare available to military personnel [narrowly defeated, but believe it or not, this was a Republican undertaking first!!!].
He also commissioned the interstate highway system (to date the largest public works project in American history), appointed 5 judges to the Supreme Court (FIVE!!!), and was the first president to de-segregate the federal government and use Federal authority to oppose the States' rights crowd at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement (including using military force to de-segregate a high school in Little Rock, AR). And his work during a long and prominent previous military career is a whole other story... What a fascinating President!
I appreciated also how open and unflinching the author was about presenting his life as it was, both good and bad. EXCELLENT READ for anyone who is interested in modern American history. ABSOLUTE REQUIRED READING for anyone of either political party who has come to believe that crossing the aisle and cooperation in government are no longer possible.
A facinating walk through a man's life , who 's ability to coach community football opened doors to eventually becoming the leader he has been known to be, He was not really an impressive leader, but had an ability to communicate better than his boses who moved him up in rank and kept around for what most leaders would consider career stopping positions. Yet, when he asked for favors, they came through for him, true master in net working.
An absolutely excellent book, start to finish, and one which very substantially upgraded my knowledge and opinion of Eisenhower. What an incredible life he lived! So many people describe the Eisenhower presidency as "nothing happened." How wrong they are!
the war chapters are sparce on tactical details but the presidential review casts questions on poor choices and spares no expense in praise. a good balance. great character study rather then a PhD treatment
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