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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book to get to know Ike

I like the pace of this book, the author doesn't focus too long on any one time in Eisenhower's life. I knew very little of him before reading the book and I definitely feel this was the right book to jump in and get to know the man. There are others out there that focus only on the presidency or the war, but this one has it all.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good, although biased, biography

This is a very good biography of Dwight David Eisenhower although I feel constrained to say that the section on his presidency suffers from the writer’s clear political bias. This biography covers Eisenhower’s entire life although it might be best thought of as covering 5 specific time periods – his early childhood, his early military experience, his central position during World War II, his time as President of Columbia University and his Presidency.

I thought I knew a good deal about Eisenhower’s life. I had read extensively about both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. The histories of the European theater, of course, covered him as central to that theater and the histories (and biography of Douglas MacArthur) covered Eisenhower’s period as aide to General MacArthur in the Philippines. In addition I felt I knew a great deal about the period of the 1950s when Eisenhower was President. Given all of that I did not expect to learn much new. I was wrong.

This book covers Eisenhower’s early military career in some detail and there is much I never knew about the locations where he served as well as the jobs and schools he attended and the important people he knew and met while ascending the military ladder. Although I knew about his friendship with other officers like George Patton, I did not know the depth of their friendship or the length of time they knew each other. In some ways this section was the most interesting to me because I knew little of what was covered.

Of course the book covers Eisenhower’s period as Supreme Commander in the European theater comprehensively but it also details some little known incidents during the war. One example is his refusal to believe reports that the Casablanca landings had failed and that the troops were re-embarking because, he said, he knew George Patton and that there was no chance Patton would cancel the landings and re-embark the troops. This section is full of such anecdotes and they add greatly to the readability of the book. One oddity, for me, was the author’s clear opinion that Bernard Montgomery was the great general of the Western European Theater. There is no real mention of Montgomery’s great failures, only his successes, and little mention of the bad blood between Montgomery and Eisenhower. As with other armchair generals the author is firm in his opinions as to the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Eisenhower’s strategic view of how the war should have been fought. His opinions would, perhaps, hold more weight with me if he if he had ever held a combat leadership role.

The coverage of the Eisenhower Presidency is thorough although, as with his coverage of the European theater, his opinions are clear. Many of Eisenhower’s most difficult decisions are lauded as great without any mention of the negative consequences stemming from them. One example is his decision to stop the British-French-Israeli seizure of the Suez Canal. The author speaks of the political good will the US generated in the non-aligned world but makes no mention of the anger of the British, French and Israelis as well as the consequences in US-French relations afterwards. I am not suggesting that the decision was either right or wrong, only that the author’s views influenced the way some events were covered and the wisdom of alternative actions was never considered.

Paul Hecht’s narration is very good and I recommend this book, with some reservations, to anyone interested in learning about Eisenhower and the central role he held in much of the 20th century.

53 of 56 people found this review helpful

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Insight for Contemporary America

Jean Edward Smith (FDR; Grant; John Marshall; George Bush’s War) is one of my favorite biographers. His current book, Eisenhower in War and Peace, is among the best. Anyone willing to spend the time will be entertained and informed about Eisenhower. Every chapter has insights which inform our current understanding of war, government, and leadership. For example, the chapter dealing with how Eisenhower formed his first Presidential Cabinet is amazing. His dealing with his military aide and driver reveals so much about the man. In many ways, the emergence of Eisenhower as a military leader was accidental. The section dealing with his marriage and how it cooled after the death of his son is heart rending. The book is 976 pages, but don’t let that keep you from opening it and settling in to its rhythm. Negatively, if you get hooked on the writing of Smith you will end up reading all of his books. The narration of Paul Hecht is worthy of The General and this good book.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 05-10-12

Eisenhower, Much more Interesting than You Think!

Eisenhower was President through many of my childhood years, and I thought there wasn't much to say about this rather dull period of time politically. Was I wrong! Yep, it turns out that Ike was a man of rare Presidential abilities -- including leadership, ethics, and a down-to-earth common sense. I came away from this book enlightened, impressed, and wishful that there were men of his stature in politics and statesmanship today! And I am a lifelong Democrat!
Not that Ike and his times were perfect: the book is quite frank about his less admirable qualities and the chances he missed to improve race relations in America, for example. He was first and foremost a military man, devoted to order and law -- and without a great deal of creative imagination. Even so, this book gives much pleasure in getting reacquainted with a man who, in nearly every case during his tenure as a Supreme Commander in WWII and in the Presidency, considered the needs of his country over partisan politics and personal grandiosity.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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5 STARS IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

Where does Eisenhower in War and Peace rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the strongest audiobooks I read and a mandatory book for those looking to explore World War 2 and the 1950's which pretty much embodied Eisenhower, though I attended Eisenhower Elementary School, I felt this book added so much more to what is taught in school and his years during World War 2 and then in the White House for two terms plays an integral part of shaping history and creating the nation we love today. The book was constantly playing as I found this man a fascinating portrait in leadership, dedication, and reserved passion. I have read many Presidential books, and enjoyed this one immensely with the top ones I've read on Lincoln, T-Rex, and FDR.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Eisenhower in War and Peace?

I saw the book as two separate books, Eisenhower the General and Eisenhower the President, you may enjoy one over the other, but I like Ike in both.

Which character – as performed by Paul Hecht – was your favorite?

Overall a good narrator, I always listen to samples as a narrator can enhance or ruin a story.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

IKE: 5 STARS IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Any additional comments?

I am a history buff with a strong penchant for World War 2, but this book delves much deeper into his personal life and spends time with his relationships in love as well as his family and riff with Nixon, there is so much to this book, don't be intimidated by the length, I finished this book eagerly, quicker than I read books half this length. Give it up for the 34th President of the United States.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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awesome

what an amazing book. i thought even better than the authors FDR book.
A very thorough, incredibly well researched peice. Lots of insights from journal entries, diaries, letters, government documents. Gives an insight into Eisenhower that i never heard/had before. Is very critical at times and very supportive of him at others. well balanced. Very very well read.
What one would give for a leader of his stature at this point.
one of the best biographies and histories of this period i have read.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Timothy
  • Rock Creek, OH, United States
  • 12-08-12

an interesting story about a remarkable man

Any additional comments?

This is a fastenating story of the life of one of the most important men in the twentieth century. The book was well written and performed. If your interested in learning about the chance events and deliberate choices that put men in powerful positions this will be a book for you to listen to.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well balanced, well written.

What did you love best about Eisenhower in War and Peace?

The balanced approached to Ike's relationship with the British and the non-nationalist, non-critical asessment of reasons some of his decisions were made and how he dealt with his American subordinates in implimenting them.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The reason I chose the book was to learn more about Ike and how and why he made decisions that still affect us all.

Have you listened to any of Paul Hecht’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is my first time with him.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Excellent Biography

Wonderful, very readable (or listenable) biography of an important American. This book covers Eisenhower, warts and all, in vivid detail. Recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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EISENHOWER

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of Dwight Eisenhower defines the meaning of political leadership. Smith does not show Eisenhower to be a great intellect or military genius. Smith suggests Eisenhower is similar to Ulysses Grant in having come from a modest family to rise to the office of President of the United States. Like Grant, Eisenhower is shown to be a consummate leader who politically manages and develops people who understand how to get things done. Unlike Grant, Smith shows Eisenhower to be a better President than battlefield commander.

Smith notes that Eisenhower had minimal combat experience. The one time Eisenhower directly manages a battle is in Sicily. If it had not been for superior manpower and material, Smith argues Eisenhower would have been defeated. Smith goes on to suggest that British Field General Montgomery is unjustly scapegoated for Eisenhower’s Italian campaign mistakes.

However, Smith’s biography of Eisenhower shows that military successes and failures make him a perfect political leader. Smith reveals an inner moral compass that defines Eisenhower’s beliefs and decisions. Eisenhower uses that moral compass to become Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in WWII; and later, President of the United States. Smith infers, despite tactical failures as a battlefield commander, Eisenhower’s innate ability to get things done through other people make him one of the great twentieth century American Presidents.

Based on Smith's biography, in contrast to America’s current President, Eisenhower makes one proud to be an American.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful