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Eisenhower: The White House Years

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  752 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
“Newton's contribution is as cogent an inventory of Eisenhower's White House years as I've ever read. He blends masterful writing with historic detail and provides the value-added of Ike as the man and the leader.”
—Chuck Hagel,Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University; U.S. Senator (19972009)

Newly discovered and declassified documents make for a surprising and reveal
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jun 10, 2016 Jerome rated it really liked it
An illuminating, clear and readable history of Eisenhower’s presidency. Newton concludes that Eisenhower was the right man for the times, rather than just an adequate caretaker, a babysitter-in-chief, or a bored, quiet old grandpa.

Newton emphasizes Eisenhower’s natural and consistent desire to always find a middle way between liberals and conservatives, and Newton’s discussion of how this applied to civil rights is interesting and nuanced. Newton also covers such topics as Eisenhower’s brother E
Jan 06, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it
Very good. People seem to be looking back more fondly at the Eisenhower presidency because of the frustrations moderates are having with more recent Republican presidents. This books offers a positive take on Ike, particularly focusing on Ike's desire to find balance between the left and right. This balance often worked well, particularly in dealing with foreign policy and the issue of nuclear weapons use, and in dealing with domestic budgetary issues. However, Newton does not shy away from poin ...more
Jim Gallen
Nov 20, 2014 Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing
The 1950s are often remembered as a quiet period of stagnation presided over by a kindly grandfather type president. A study of the Eisenhower Administration proves that it was anything but that. It included the end of the Korean War, the invasion of Lebanon and the Suez Crisis. It was a period of covert action that effected pro-American regime change in Iran and Guatemala but also saw the U-2 crash and the rise of Castro. The Army was challenged by Sen. Joseph McCarthy who was, in turn, defeate ...more
Mar 18, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Newton's recounting of Dwight Eisenhower's years in the White House was rather eye-opening for someone who was a child during his two terms as President. I do remember thinking that he sort of "breezed" through and that the "real" Cold War problems occurred after he left office. But, it isn't so--he did more than met the eye of observers to stave off a nuclear engagement which would have destroyed much of humanity and civilization. And. he did it by bluffing and cajoling opponents, such as the R ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An excellent portrait of Eisenhower's presidency. Enough detail in the early chapters to give a measure of the man, but not so much as to bore and distract. Newtown argues that the traditional interpretation of Eisenhower's tenure in the White House -- that Ike spent most of the time on the links, delegating substantive work to powerful aides -- misses the mark, largely because most people misunderstood Ike's leadership style. He was not a self-promoter and he resisted his staff's attempts to cl ...more
Jeni Enjaian
Jan 29, 2013 Jeni Enjaian rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book. If it weren't for a few pesky details I would have happily given it 5 stars.

First, the pesky details

The first few chapters are thematic summaries of Eisenhower's life before he reached the White House. When I started reading the book I forgot to pay attention to the subtitle and started getting very disappointed in the book. Newton's tome on Earl Warren was fascinating and I was hoping for the same with this book. When I saw the subtitle, Newton's organizational cho
Oct 11, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
President Eisenhower was the first president whom I remember. Despite my parents' votes for Stevenson, they had a great deal of regard and affection for this man, so I was very interested to read about Eisenhower's years in the White House. Jim Newton's biography is masterful, a truly clear-eyed, balanced and nuanced view of the man.
Newton draws a portrait of a president who above all had integrity and put the good of his country over any party or personal preferences. Considering the current pa
Robert Morrow
Jul 24, 2012 Robert Morrow rated it really liked it
A solid biography of Ike as president, eminently readable with good strong narrative threads. For the most part, the book presents a more balanced view of Eisenhower than Ambrose's work, with only one or two moments of descent into the whine of Eisenhower biographers that the stereotype of Ike-as-golfer is unfair (it is, but hey, get over it). I particularly enjoyed the passages dealing with his complex relationship with Richard Nixon; Ike had as hard a time fathoming Nixon's motives as the rest ...more
May 01, 2014 Simon rated it liked it
I like Ike well enough, but the evidence for the author's thesis --- that he should be ranked as a great President --- is pretty slight, although he was a competent one. Newton's problem is Ike's addiction to overthrowing foreign governments and his general unwillingness to provide leadership on moral issues such as civil rights. The best Newton can do is a sort of lukewarm testimonial to Ike's reluctant endorsement of Supreme Court decisions (and even then he had to be shamed into putting Earl ...more
Aug 14, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
Today there is a great desire for moderates. The tea party has shown once again the trouble of extremism and an unruly congress.

Eisenhower is the epitome of centrism. His policy was to compromise and to seek the "middle way".

There was success in this. The economy grew, our country was secure, and there were other successes.

Eisenhower also is a lot like Obama. Losing his party in congress after his first term, he faced trouble. Korea and Iraq are analogous wars that were unpopular and ended wit
Paul Lunger
Aug 12, 2016 Paul Lunger rated it really liked it
Jim Newton's "Eisenhower: The White House Years" is at times a tedious & yet fascinatingly detailed look at the presidency of our nation's 34th chief executive Dwight David Eisenhower. The book at the start is a bit uneven when describing Eisenhower's time growing up as well as his service particularly in WWII as well as his marriage to Mamie. Once he gets elected then Newton's book gets a bit more on track as we the reader wind our way through the 1950s from the end of the Korean War throug ...more
Casey Mahon
This is a decent book. It presents a wealth of information on Eisenhower's years as a politician, drawing upon his past experiences to illustrate his development and opinions. It did tend to concentrate more on the foreign affairs of the Eisenhower administration, rather than the domestic issues; probably something Ike himself would have appreciated. Though the author fairly presented the many sides of the issues, I couldn't help but read most of it as an apology for the inactivity of "the Middl ...more
Jake Shimanek
Jul 18, 2014 Jake Shimanek rated it really liked it
I learned quite a bit about Eisenhower from this book. He got the Korean war to end....He hated Sen McCarthy....He was supportive of covert operations, but against sending our troops to other countries wars so to speak....Bay of Pigs was his plan, but Kennedy screwed it up....Not long after Bay of Pigs Kennedy invited Eisenhower to Camp David to show him where he messed it up....And Eisenhower did so in a non-in-your-face way.....His motive for supporting the Brown V. Board of Ed. of Topeka was ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
Understand the statement "I like Ike" now. Learned much about post WWII and the 1950s that impacts us, the United States, today. The 1950s were not all "happy days" as portrayed on the television show and movies of the period. It was an era of great paranoia, understandable given the recovery process following the war. It was also a period of struggle, tension, repression and discovery. Eisenhower's motto was peace, patience and prosperity and that guided him through two terms as president. Havi ...more
Ed Callahan
Apr 06, 2016 Ed Callahan rated it liked it
I enjoy Presidential biographies in particular because most inform us about more than the person by painting a broad planarian of the country, the economics and politics of the times as well as the social morays. I found this bio even more interesting because Ike was the 1st President I remember, more his 2nd term than the first, but still, I remember him.

This bio corrected my impression that he was a do nothing president who mostly played golf. He in fact was a moderate republican who worked h
Sep 08, 2014 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
An excellent account of the Eisenhower presidency, another Republican President (Lincoln, TR) who wouldn't stand a chance with today's Republican Party. Conservatives in the party never really warmed up to him even then. Close to all his brothers, Ike leaned toward the more liberal influences of brother Milton. (Brother Edgar chastised him for the "socialist" drift of the country during his two terms.!) Eisenhower supported Egypt during the Suez crises, demanded that Britain, France and ISRAEL e ...more
Nov 13, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing
I was immediately interested in reading more about Eisenhower when I saw this biography about his years in the White House listed on Goodreads. I was thrilled when I won a copy through the giveaways and wasn't in the least disappointed when I read the book. Like many others I did think of Eisenhower as the President between the more interesting presidencies of Truman and Kennedy. I was astonished at everything that went on during Eisenhower's Presidency--from the Cold War, to the civil rights mo ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Evan rated it liked it
This was my first reading about Eisenhower, and I believe the period of the Presidency was well-covered. Newton conveys a strong portrait of Ike's personality, warts and all. Newton clearly has a lot of admiration for Eisenhower and his overall performance.

Another reader's review mentioned that Ike is looking better all the time. Certainly he was a commanding presence with an ability to wield power, play politics and, above all, to prevail. He did not reach his goal nuclear stability but he did
David R.
Sep 17, 2012 David R. rated it liked it
There are many biographical treatments of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Newton's is a solid contender. But it has its shortcomings. This narrative is organized largely on a chronological basis and touches on each major incident as they occurred. There is frustratingly little material on some (the McCarthy controversies, the Suez crisis, etc.) and begs the question on two Eisenhower management styles. One of these is the proclivity "Ike" had for managing his presidency like a military operation. Newt ...more
By the end of his administration, Eisenhower was being dismissed by many as an anachronism, a bungler, an inattentive executive who let the USSR and China gain an upper hand in world influence. This image was cruelly and disingenuously encouraged by John F. Kennedy with his "new generation of Americans." Jim Newton shows that this characterization of Eisenhower was superficial on the face of it and that it thrived in part because of Eisenhower's style, which was strategically undramatic. Weighed ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Co2 rated it it was amazing
As foretold in the title, this is a history of Eisenhower as president.
Part One, "Making Ike" begins "By the time he declared his candidacy for the president in 1952 Dwight Eisenhower was a formed man,". The next two chapters, 40 pages or so, prepare the background. His family life in Kansas and his military life through the end of WW II. And its all to preface his presidential and political life.

It was an interesting juxtaposition to read this wonderful history of Ike's terms in the 1950's whi
Dec 20, 2011 Kevin rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this as a First Reads giveaway for which I am very grateful. I love having the chance to read books and authors that I might not otherwise have been exposed to. Unfortunately this was not one of my favorite reads. While the subject and research that went into this were interesting, the delivery ended up being just a bit boring. I didn't expect a biography of Eisenhower to be captivating or thrilling but this ended up being just a few notches up from a text book. My biggest problem was ...more
Jun 26, 2012 Foreignpolicysifter rated it liked it

If a people can worship an era like a false deity, Americans kneel at the altar of the 1930s-1950s. The “Greatest Generation” could do no wrong; they were duty-bound, hard-working people who went through hell and came out better for it. But we romanticize the people, not their leaders. The legacies of leaders from this era, while still generally held in high esteem, are now, at the very least, complicated to some ideologues. Roosevelt created the social we
Jul 11, 2012 Richp rated it it was ok
This reads much more like propaganda than an honest biography or history. Hero worship is presented as fact, leading this reader to doubt Newton's version of the facts. (Not necessarily the facts presented, but certainly the selection of facts presented as being balanced.) I found this to be quite annoying.

There are a number of major omissions and distortions. Newton credits Ike as winning the war in Europe, but in reality it was the Soviet armies that crushed Germany, and Ike's performance as a
Jan 29, 2013 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 15% of the book deals with General Eisenhower before he is elected to the Presidency, so I guess the title of the book indicates where the author planned to place emphasis and was not meant to be taken literally. The book was okay. I suspect it was accurate in it's portrayal of the Eisenhower years but the author contended that the depiction of Eisenhower as an uninvolved, not very decisive man was incorrect, and yet as I read the book, it is exactly the impression that I got from her ...more
Jo-Ann Murphy
Oct 09, 2011 Jo-Ann Murphy rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A friend leant me this book to read when I saw it sitting on his desk and expressed inerest. It was a slow read. I thought I would never get it back to him. The first part was particularly confusing. I think because the author tried to cram so much of a long life before the White House into a short space.

The author states that Eisenhower was the third son and named David Dwight Eisenhower. At no time does the author ever explain how David Dwight became Dwight David Eisenhower.

Once we get to the
Delores Thomas
Apr 09, 2014 Delores Thomas rated it really liked it
This is not only the story of Ike's life, it also gives political background in relation to his life. It shows the who, what, when, where, and often the why of each era in his life. It includes the major players and his interaction and opinions of each. If you love history you will learn something from this biography.
Bob R Bogle
Oct 29, 2012 Bob R Bogle rated it liked it
Big theme of this book: President Ike was not as dull as he seemed then, or now. Throughout much of the book I thought the point was well-defended. However, by the time I got to the end, the over-arching conclusion seemed to be just the opposite. The hero who won the war was extremely out of touch with the radical new world he'd helped to build. It's hard to accept that a perpetual willingness to use nukes if necessary to defend our interests in remote locations exemplified wisdom more than it s ...more
May 28, 2016 Aloysius rated it liked it
A look at Eisenhower's tenure as President. The book gives him high marks for foreign policy and economic policy, but grades him as mediocre on race relations. Above all, the book shows that Eisenhower's term was eventful and consequential, and that the man at the helm is not just an "amiable geezer".
Ian Divertie
Mar 18, 2015 Ian Divertie rated it it was amazing
This guy was obviously a hard worker. I just can't imagine the burdens he carried and made it look so effortless to us all at the time. He paid a big price though in his private life for all the balls he simultaneously juggled for us all.
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