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Publisher's Summary

In this debut history from one of America's most influential political journalists, Bret Baier casts the three days between Dwight Eisenhower's prophetic "farewell address" on the evening of January 17, 1961, and his successor John F. Kennedy's inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the final mission of one of modern America's greatest leaders.

As president, the former supreme commander of Allied forces during World War II successfully guided the country out of war in Korea, through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with Russia, and into one of the greatest economic booms in world history. In this last address to the nation, Eisenhower looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Baier explores the many ways these visionary words continue to resonate today; he also explains how Ike embodied the qualities of political leadership that the country is urgently hungering for at the present.

Seeking to prepare a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the 43-year-old Kennedy in the intervening time between the speech and the inauguration. Dwight Eisenhower left the public stage at the end of these three days in January 1961 having done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation "on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment". Despite their differences in party affiliation, President Kennedy would continue to seek his predecessor's advice and counsel during his time in office. Five decades later Baier's Three Days in January illuminates how Eisenhower, an underappreciated giant of US history, still offers vital lessons for our own time.

©2017 Bret Baier (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 01-20-17

Gently In Manner, Strongly In Deed...

Up front: I'm a Gen-Xer, so I was totally ignorant of who Eisenhower was as a man, a general, a president (well, okay, so maybe I knew a liiiittle bit). Therefore, I found this book absolutely enthralling. It's more a bio than an account of those Three Days in January, though those are covered. But it's a sensitive account of a remarkable man, his beliefs, his doggedness to do the best for the country (even if it wasn't popular with his party), a man who was willing to make compromises and say the tough things, do the tough things, make some of the toughest decisions imaginable (Korea, the Cold War, etc.).
I would have liked it if it started with his prophetic farewell address but, though there are snippets of it quoted here and there, it's not read in full until the Appendix. What a wowzer! It's as true today as ever it was (see: George Washington's farewell address).
Further, while Baier says up front that he's not an historian but is a journalist and is thus presenting information for us to make our own judgments, he's very, very pro-Ike to the point of glossing over some (minor) failings, and to saying things like, "What Eisenhower ACTUALLY meant was..."
Still, a fascinating look at a genuinely amiable man who walked the walk. And only a former president will know what it's REALLY like...

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 02-27-17

Stimulating

The author puffed out the book with a brief biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. Also included was Eisenhower’s farewell address. Ike stressed the critical need for bipartisanship and balance in all governmental and foreign affairs. The complete speech is in the appendix of the book. I found the speech most interesting considering all that has happened since it was given.

When Ike took office, the relationship between Truman and Ike was strained. According to the author, Ike wanted to help the new president’s transition into office, as he apparently admired John F. Kennedy. Baier tells about the last three days in office where Ike attempted to prepare JFK for the current and ongoing problems he would be facing as president. Ike warned JFK about the military industrial complex, and the enormous federal funding that needed to be restrained. I found this part of the book quite interesting. I wish the author had gone more in depth about the discussions between Ike and JFK. I realize that there may be a limited amount of information available.

I was most disappointed in the rest of the book because of the numerous factual errors, particularly in the biographical sketch of Eisenhower and about WWII. Most books have one of two minor errors, but this book goes beyond that. I don’t know whether it was due to sloppy editing or sloppy research. For example, Baier states that Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and FDR comprised a troika of the allied front. Troika connotes three persons working together. De Gaulle played no such role. There were to many errors in the North African Campaign to list here. There are a number of good biographies about Eisenhower available if one wants to know more about him, for example: one of the recent ones is Jean Edward Smith’s “Eisenhower in War and Peace”.

In spite of the errors, I found the book most interesting and enjoyed it. If you are interested in learning about the Cold War and presidential transitions, this book is for you. Bret Bier is an anchor newsman for the Fox Network.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is about ten and half hours long. Bret Bier and Danny Campbell did a good job narrating the book. Campbell is an actor and audiobook narrator.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Chamblee, GA, United States
  • 02-03-17

Fantastic Lessons for Today From the General

The release of this book--which is based around President Eisenhower's farewell address--was timed to coincide with the changing of the guard from the Obama Administration. Although most of the book was written when the outcome was very much in doubt, the election of Donald Trump seems to create an interesting parallel. Eisenhower was primarily interested in passing along vital information to his brash young successor.

One could only wish that Eisenhower were here to pass along information to Obama's equally brash (although not younger) successor. Eisenhower's focus, as the book graphically demonstrates, was one key issue: What was best for the country. He did not like politics and was not much of a partisan. He regularly reached across the aisle. He tried to work with the other party, not trash its leaders.

What a contrast we have to today. After eight years of a "phone and a pen" and demonizing one party, the shoe is now on the other foot with a seemingly endless stream of "tweets." It's hard to say anything meaningful in 140 characters. What seems distinctly lacking in both parties are what we used to call statesmen.

I was born in 1957 and have no real memory of Eisenhower. This book taught me to have a much greater respect for Eisenhower. It demonstrates that Eisenhower was far from a caretaker. He was a careful and thoughtful leader who did everything within his power to keep us out of war. He knew firsthand that the massive waste of war was justified only in the most extreme circumstances.

The book is extremely interesting and moves very well. Baier is, not surprisingly, a smooth and able narrator.

Don't let any antipathy toward "Fox News" dissuade you. This is well worth your time.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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I liked Ike !

I remember watching the news reels as a small child, at the time I thought all he did was play golf. He always had a Big Smile and I liked him. It was so nice to understand his presidency as an adult and the history that made him. Plan to visit his museum this summer.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book

Superbly narrated and actual - let's hope the new people in the White House would get a glimpse at it...

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Well researched, well-written, a fascinating read

What made the experience of listening to Three Days in January the most enjoyable?

Born in 1952, I was shocked at how little I knew about President Eisenhower. There was so much depth to his character that this book bought to the light.

Any additional comments?

Well worth the listen!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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GREAT HISTORY LESSON

Mr. Baier shared some great historical lessons on two of our Presidents, especially General Eisenower. Well written and told, and a timely accounting that is worth your time!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • Burtonsville, MD
  • 07-14-18

Very informative and interesting

I learned a lot about Ike's presidency, I knew a fair amount about his Army service and the highlights of his time in office but this book taught me a great deal in a fun way. I've followed Bret's career on Fox News and have always liked him and this is the first of his books I've listened to and plan on listening to more. Although the narrator was good I wish Bret had narrated the whole thing but that's probably out of familiarity with him.

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Very good book ... insightful

Insightful book ... well researched
Narration voice quality was not as good as others ... probably the recording quality.
Story very good and focused on Ike’s farewell address ... while showing all of Ike’s life in context ... good job of drawing in historical and experiential elements to provide perspective in the address and the context of the tunes and transition to JFK.

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Had to wait 3 days to get to the Three Days

While the book was ok the title was a misnomer. It was more a biography of Eisenhauer rather than about the three days. If you know his life story then I’d give the book a pass.

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  • Eugene
  • 01-13-17

Gave up on this after a couple of chapters.

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Republicans

Would you ever listen to anything by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney again?

No

What didn’t you like about Bret Baier and Danny Campbell ’s performance?

Ike lovefest

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment

Any additional comments?

Was looking forward to hearing about a the transition took place. After a few chapters of hearing about the godlike Ike I gave up and moved on.