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Eisenhower in War and Peace

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,104 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
The Christian Science Monitor • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In his magisterial bestseller FDR, Jean Edward Smith gave us a fresh, modern look at one of the most indelible figures in American history. Now this peerless biographer returns with a new life of Dwight D. Eisenhower that is as full, rich, and revealing as anything ever writt
Hardcover, 976 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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John  Bellamy
May 15, 2012 John Bellamy rated it really liked it
Few reputations are more mutable than those of former U. S. presidents. I’m ancient enough to recall the contrasting images of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy that prevailed for several decades after they had passed from the scene: Eisenhower, likeable and grandfatherly but dim, disengaged and increasingly enfeebled; Kennedy, young, dynamic and ever open to fresh ideas and ways of doing things. Not coincidentally, Kennedy’s Camelot halo began dimming just about the time the scholarly r ...more
Jul 04, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Dwight D. Eisenhower seems at this distant remove a not terribly colorful American president. His term of office was an extraordinarily peaceful one and prosperity largely enveloped the country. So it is perhaps not surprising that many do not think of him as a particularly exciting leader. But this fine biography makes clear that this calm and methodical man was one of the most gifted leaders the country has ever known, and, between his remarkably wise guidance as commander of U.S. forces in Wo ...more
Eisenhower is one of the few presidents of the 20th century who is liked by both sides of the increasingly divided political spectrum. The Interstate Highway System, Desegregation, a Budget Surplus, won WWII and ended Korea, put a stop to 'gunboat diplomacy' by the European powers at Suez, and one of the longest consecutive periods of economic growth. His approval rating stayed above 60% for most of his term - astonishing by today's standards.

Such is the nature of presidential administrations in
Mar 14, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it
Usually when it comes to popular biographies of major historical figures, there's a question of why exactly another biography is necessary after umpteen thousand volumes have been written on the subject. And there are certainly no lack of books on Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a general or as President, but in this case the 'why' is clear. The most influential Eisenhower biographer is Stephen Ambrose, whose writings on DDE included eye-popping revelations like Eisenhower's private doubts about integr ...more
May 27, 2013 Harold rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I didn't know much about Eisenhower, who was president when I was a baby. The 50s always seemed like this backward, but idyllic time; but Eisenhower gets little credit, and is hardly noted. If Jean Smith's book is to be believed (and I have no reason to doubt it), he was a good general, more political than strategic, and a phenomenal president. Where is he today? Here was a president who could accomplish great things and who had great vision without having to announce it to the world. And he had ...more
Emmett Hoops
Aug 21, 2016 Emmett Hoops rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare books that provide a new understanding of a man we all safely assumed had already been properly disposed of by a competent biographer. As it turns out, much of what is known or believed to be known about Dwight D. Eisenhower is due to Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower's previously principal biographer. Should you choose to read this excellent book, you will find reasons to doubt and disbelieve some of Ambrose's more controversial conclusions.

In Jean Edward Smith's more than
May 28, 2016 Manray9 rated it it was amazing
As the dust jacket blurb asserts, Smith is "indubitably America's most distinguished biographer." Eisenhower in War and Peace is detailed and erudite, but also exceedingly well written. It is a masterpiece of the biographer's art.
Brian Eshleman
Nov 20, 2013 Brian Eshleman rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This book offers almost 1000 pages on Eisenhower, and I did not feel like I knew him. Good biographies offer such an intimate portrait of the subject's psyche that the reader knows how he or she would react in a different situation, OR they provide such a detailed, textual portrayal of the subject's times that the reader feels like he or she was present in them. Great biographies offer both. This one falls short on both counts.

Eisenhower is so magisterial and fascinating that whatever fraction o
May 03, 2012 Wanda rated it it was amazing
This is a very detailed but superbly written biography of Dwight Eisenhower. I love histories and biographies the bring their subjects to life, and Smith certainly does that. Bravo to the writing and research. I only have a few minor quibbles with his details. Later.
Smith is even in his treatment of Eisenhower. He admires the man and his contribution to the U.S. and to the war in Europe, but he is also a bit criticial of his also somewhat critical of his military performance, during the North Af
Smith has a nice flowing style, but at 765 pages, I'll probably pass. The reason can be found in the early warning footnotes. The level of unnecessary detail can be stunning. I'm diligent about reading footnotes, so when I read a footnote telling me about the six wheel concept behind the York Pullman ( an automobile the young Eisenhower drove), the seemingly complete history of Abilene, and disputes about the origins of the term "Buffalo soldier," I figure I would have been in for a very long an ...more
Mar 17, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
In this excellent presidential biography, Jean Edward Smith covers Eisenhower's childhood, his early military career and steady rise to prominence during the inter-war years, his leadership during WWII, his brief stint as President of Columbia University, and finally, his Presidency. Most of the book is dedicated to Eisenhower's leadership during WWII and the major events during his 8 years as President. It seemed to me that Smith gave a very fair analysis of Eisenhower, pointing out negative as ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing
I always pick up a Jean Edward Smith book with a sense of anticipation. I wish there was an on-demand service where he could write a biography for all of my favourite historical figures. This one on Eisenhower, like his others on Grant and FDR, is superb. He somehow manages to balance scholarly analysis, balanced appraisal and deep research with an engaging narrative style and a touch of humour, and it makes his books an utter pleasure to read. I wish he'd take on Lincoln or Sherman or RFK.

Grady McCallie
Jan 24, 2016 Grady McCallie rated it it was amazing
This is a really fine full-life biography of General and President Dwight Eisenhower. Author Jean Edward Smith has previously written biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lucius Clay, and his research for those books deeply informs his analysis of Eisenhower. Above all, Smith is judicious, direct about assessing his mistakes as well as his successes, and Smith makes no effort to hide anything about Eisenhower's life. That's particularly important in that Eisenhower himself was particular ...more
Feb 15, 2015 David rated it really liked it
Eisenhower was a quiet and subtle man, who just wanted to serve. His entire life was dedicated to public service, from West Point to the White House. I learned a lot about our 34th president reading this book, such as how he was almost sent to military court and would have probably never accomplished what he did, the days leading up to D-Day, and how he chose to pick his cabinet when he became president. However, at nearly 750 pages (not counting notes and acknowledgments), this book contains qu ...more
Jan 21, 2015 May rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
The Achilles' heel of biographers are those who fall in love with their subject and fail to be objective about the subject's failings (an excellent example of this is David McCullough's biography of John Adams).
In general, the author of this biography does his best to be as even-handed as he can, although a pro-Eisenhower bias is still evident. The book is a comprehensive look at Eisenhower's life and at how surprisingly private and closed he was (the mischievous grin he flashed papered over man
4.5 -
Jean Edward Smith's biography of Eisenhower is excellent, well-researched and well-written. It was a little lackluster, but this admittedly might be the subject rather than the book. It is an even-handed description of the man pointing out both strengths and weaknesses as a good biography should. I was left with a better understanding of why he was so popular as a President, but doubting that I would have liked the man.

Eisenhower was not the best military general of the war. Patton, Montgo
May 13, 2016 Jerome rated it really liked it
A comprehensive, evenhanded and readable biography of Eisenhower, who comes off as remarkable, flawed, and human.

The sections on Eisenhower’s military career are the most readable parts of the book, and Smith shows how Ike progressed throughout his military career through a combination of hard work, knowledge of Army politics and shrewd networking, allowing him to avoid those postings where careers went to die. While Eisenhower’s successes and talents seem pretty obvious, Smith also shows some o
Jan 11, 2016 Susan added it
I loved the Preface where Smith argues that it is wrong to see Eisenhower as th kindly old war hero president who wasn't all that smart and hadn't accomplished that much. I agree and was pleased to see that there was plenty of focus on Eisenhower's shortcomings as well. This is really a next generation biog.

I wasn't all that interested in Eisenhower's personal life or even his war years, the former because I don't care that he had a long affair with his driver during the war and the latter becau
Monkey Paul Wilson
Oct 08, 2015 Monkey Paul Wilson rated it really liked it
Eisenhower is an interesting historical anomaly. One the one hand, he is largely regarded as the mastermind general who led the Allies to victory on D-Day. On the other hand, he is thought of as a bumbling president who delegated important tasks to subordinates like John Foster Dulles. Smith attempts to clarify this enigmatic figure in this comprehensive biography of the 34th president. Eisenhower is another president on whom I am ambivalent; he saw the dangers of military build ups, but sponsor ...more
Teri Beckelheimer
Sep 06, 2015 Teri Beckelheimer rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Eisenhower in War and Peace is an exhaustive look at Eisenhower's military career and an overview of his presidency. Jean Edward Smith goes into great detail on Ike's upbringing and rise in the military from his time at West Point through his tenure as Chief of Staff. One chapter is devoted to his time as President of Columbia University and the final chapters cover his two terms as President and his retirement spent at Gettysburg, PA. It is very well researched with some wonderful side notes th ...more
As we gear up for another Presidential election season and as the Republican party struggles to find a candidate that can best represent them after nearly eight years out of power, a reflection on some their party's past presidents will be inevitable. Ronald Reagan will be held up as the Republican gold standard, but I think Dwight Eisenhower would be a better role model for them instead. And if any Republicans, or those interested in presidential biographies in general, want to learn more about ...more
Josh Liller
Jul 27, 2014 Josh Liller rated it really liked it
A small history discussion group I belong to chose Dwight Eisenhower as our next topic. Having previously read and enjoyed Jean Edward Smith's Grant I chose to read his biography of Ike.

Smith certainly seems qualified to write about Eisenhower, having written previous biographies of his contemporaries Franklin Roosevelt and Lucius Clay, plus the aforementioned of Ulysses Grant biography. Eisenhower, Grant, and Washington are the only three generals turned two-term presidents in US history.

This h
Apr 01, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
For those familiar with this author’s previous books on John Marshall, U.S. Grant and FDR, you know Smith’s biographies are thorough detailed narratives, filled with anecdotes and first-hand accounts, analyses of the historical record, some personal opinion, a little wit and – yes – lengthy. The books are also very readable and engaging. Eisenhower In War And Peace is no exception and a very worthy addition to this author’s legacy and - I won’t be the only one to note this – timely – particularl ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Elgin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Having read extensively about WWII, I have always admired Eisenhower for his amazing leadership associated with the D-Day landings in France. When I heard this book reviewed on NPR I knew that I had to read it, though it took a year to get my hands on it. DDE lived an amazing life, from his humble beginnings in Abilene, Kansas, through his rise in the military, through his years as President. Like all of us, DDE made some mistakes and in the position he was in these mistakes cost lives. But he t ...more
Harry Lane
Jul 21, 2012 Harry Lane rated it really liked it
Eisenhower is a well-known public figure, and the broad outline of his life is well known. There have been earlier biographies as well, so one should not expect any startling revelations from this new biography, and indeed there are none. That said, this is by far the best and most complete narrative of Eisenhower's life and times. Smith provides a number of details about Ike's early career that have been glossed over, such as his use of Army mentors to obtain favorable assignments. Smith's acco ...more
H Wesselius
Jul 15, 2012 H Wesselius rated it really liked it
An excellent and thorough biography of man who stood in the center of modern American history. The author critically outlines his less than stellar military career where the proximity of friends and mentors to the trappings of power helped propel Eisenhower to the top despite errors in judgement. From his success in Europe, the author then moves to his more stellar political career. Its here where Eisenhower's pragmatic and calm personality shaped by the military is put to good use. From the aut ...more
Oct 14, 2012 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t read very many biographies, and those I do read tend most often to have a great deal of history in them. I also prefer to read biographies written after the dust has settled and some historical perspective has been achieved. Jean Edward Smith’s book on Eisenhower fits the bill – disconcerting though it was to think of my childhood as history. But that comes later.

Smith’s portrait of Eisenhower’s childhood contains elements that seem to be common to a number of presidents – a weak, unsucc
A fantastic read about one of the great Americans in history. I had read very little about Eisenhower before this book, and I now realize how much I have been missing out on the knowledge of a great figure.

This book covers all of Ike's life with the first third focused on his career and rise to power, the second third on his time during World War II, and the third third on his Presidency. Ike's rise through the Army was not terribly interesting, but reading about a peace time army is not exciti
May 31, 2012 Marks54 rated it really liked it
This is a well done and long biography that sets out to make a point - that contrary to popular opinion, even among those who read history, Eisenhower was the second most effective US president in the 20th century - after FDR. The author is clear in making his interpretive points, even while providing a carefully documented and reasonable account. The key to the argument is Smith's view that Eisenhower's top management skills, his moderation, and his ability to forge consensus were the key eleme ...more
Sep 21, 2012 Ed rated it it was amazing
I read much of this book on the 8 hour flight across the Atlantic. It is long but very readable and now in the run up to the 2012 election is a very good time to read it. I like military history and thought his account of Ike's military career excellent and well balanced, often seeing his failures as well as his successes. But it is the Presidential years that are most relevant today. I think Eisenhower was probably the second great President of the 20th century, after Franklin Roosevelt and way ...more
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Currently he is the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall University and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto after having served as professor of political economy there for thirty-five years. Smith also currently serves as professor of history and government at Ashland University.

A graduate of McKinley High School in Washington, D.C., Smith received an A.B. from Prin
More about Jean Edward Smith...

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