Publisher's Summary

If you think of our 34th president as little more than the babysitter-in-chief during the prosperous fifties, think again. Dwight Eisenhower was bequeathed an atomic bomb and was the first American president not to use it. He ground down Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism until both became, as he said, “McCarthywasm”. He stimulated the economy to lift it from recession, built an interstate highway system, and, for good measure, turned an $8-billion deficit in 1953 into a $500-million surplus in 1960. (Ike was the last president until Bill Clinton to leave his country in the black.)

The President Eisenhower of popular imagination is a benign figure, armed with a putter and little else. The Eisenhower of veteran journalist Jim Newton’s rendering is shrewd, sentimental, and tempestuous. He mourned the death of his first son and doted on his grandchildren but could, one aide recalled, “peel the varnish off a desk” with his temper. Mocked as a blunderbuss, he was in fact a meticulous manager. Admired as a general, he was a cham­pion of peace. In Korea and Vietnam, in Quemoy and Berlin, his generals urged him to wage nuclear war. Time and again, he considered and rejected it. And it was Eisenhower who appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren and who enforced desegregation in the schools.

Rare interviews with John Eisenhower, along with access to newly declassified documents, make for a gripping and revealing narrative.

©2011 Jim Newton (P)2011 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Drawing on declassified documents, Newton's narrative, especially of the many international crises, is clear, brisk, and insightful, a timely study of a master of consensus politics with lessons for today's polarized Washington." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Newton's] well-researched account shows that Eisenhower was an engaged, decisive leader guided by some bedrock moral and political beliefs ... A well-done presentation that helps correct enduring perceptions about an effective but misunderstood presidency." (Booklist)
"A truly great book, spirited, balanced, and not just the story of President Eisenhower but of an era." (Bob Woodward)

What members say

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  • Overall
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  • Ray
  • Long Valley, NJ, United States
  • 11-12-11

A simpler time?

Straightforward account of Eisenhower’s White House years. Pleasant narration. Not nearly as deep (or as long) as the Truman biography, this book provides some insight into Eisenhower’s beliefs and management style. He was a leader, not a politician. He seems to have taken an active role in international diplomacy, an area in which he had much experience. But in the case of domestic issues he relied on the advice of his staff. He was not an active promoter of civil rights, but when his Supreme Court made it the law of the land, Eisenhower provided the leadership to get it done.

We tend to think of the 50s as a simple, harmonious time – but it was anything but that. If there is nostalgia for this time, it is for the type of leader who seeks office not for self-serving purposes, but because he believes he can help shape a better nation. We could use that today.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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No complaints!

Excellent overview of the life and presidency of one of the most under rated US Presidents. Would recommend to anyone interested

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  • JK
  • Lake Jackson, Texas USA
  • 11-21-17

Awful narration ruins a good read

I just finished the audio on Eisenhower's war years, The Supreme Commander by Stephen Ambrose, a real masterpiece. This book of the presidential years seemed like a logical followup. What a disappointment!

First, the level of scholarship is far below Ambrose's work. It is much more general, lacking detail and documentation that the length of the audio implied.

Worse, this is one of the most irritating audio narrators I've heard in 30+ years of audio books. What a mismatch! This man sounds like what we used to hear in dog food commercials on TV. He spends so much effort trying to put emotion in his voice that it eds up negating the gravity of some very trying times during Ike's administration. I skipped hours of this book in an effort to learn something new about these years while minimizing the goofy narration.

A real disappointment. There are other, better books on Eisenhower with more complete information. Every other audio on Ike is bound to be read by better than this narrator.

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  • Erich
  • Mt Pleasant, SC, United States
  • 10-16-17

Smooth the rough edges

Every biographer seems to fall in love with their subject. Any of their blemishes are smooth off their failings explained away. This book is no exception but it still seems a worthwhile chronicle of Eisenhower's life and presidential years.

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I like Ike

This book outlines in intricate details the day to day workings of the 8 years of the Eisenhower presidency. The impression of him as a kindly but muddled godfather does not wash. He was a brilliant, detail oriented president who knew every detail of the White House and its workings. He placed his stamp on every detail. He took immense pride in his accomplishments. During his tenure, there were no wars despite ample opportunities and only one American soldier died on foreign soil. He balanced the budget and kept the American economy stable. Although he did not overtly support civil rights, he named 5 liberal judges to the supreme court, forcing the end of segregation and the liberalization of racial relations. He was supremely confident and had few regrets or second thoughts. Eisenhower and Washington stand out as the two warrior presidents and patriots in our History. We miss him and will probably never have another president of his caliber.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Caleb
  • Fleetwood, NC, United States
  • 12-03-12

Historically in-depth with a nice flow

The book dives into interesting details of Eisenhowers and attempts to give you a glimpse into his thought process. I enjoyed book and felt like I knew more about the man after reading it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful