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Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World
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Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  95 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, consecutive presidents of the United States, were midwesterners alike in many ways—except that they also sharply differed.  Born within six years of each other (Truman in 1884, Eisenhower in 1890), they came from small towns in the Missouri–Mississippi River Valley—in the midst of cows and wheat, pigs and corn, and grain elevators. Both ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 24, 2013 Beth rated it liked it
This is a book well worth reading; however, it really needs a good edit. I learned so much about the two men and the times in which they lived. They were very different yet had so much in common. They were only six years different in age, and both contributed so much to this country! I hadn't realized that Truman actually led troops in WW I; while Ike, who had recently graduated from West Point, was consigned to duty here in the states training troops. The man who led a platoon then became ...more
Jerry Borchardt
Nov 07, 2014 Jerry Borchardt rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
by William Lee Miller

This very readable book has two purposes: it is a dual biography of our 33rd and 34th presidents, as well as an impressive feat of interpretation and analysis. Truman and Eisenhower were Middle Americans, we are reminded (Truman from Missouri and Ike from Kansas,) who became unlikely seminal figures of World War II and beyond. Vice-President Harry Truman assumed the presidency upon the death of FDR and saw the fall of N
Kevin Koppelmann
Oct 17, 2016 Kevin Koppelmann rated it liked it
Interesting book but it was long! Great perspectives on the dropping of the bomb in WW2 and the fact Eisenhower didn't agree with dropping it.
Jun 06, 2014 Nd rated it liked it
Interesting book for Midwesterners to read (both of these men were from their respective states of Kansas and Missouri but not "of" them, having strong counter-culture tendencies) - and this region of the country continues to play an outsized role in national politics. As the author notes, Eisenhower would have left the GoP long ago (he was really on the fence between both parties anyway), whether Truman would have stuck with the Dems, I dunno.

The most interesting part of this book was the discu
Oct 16, 2013 Martin rated it really liked it
I was too lazy to read two books on Truman and Eisenhower separately, and I feel that I got the main points. I also got something extra, which was a very balanced view of both of their leadership qualities, and an unbiased look into their rift which lasted from approximately the beginning of the Korean War until the day of JFK’s funeral. The author seemed to like both of his subjects and presents them as fairly similar, but with a few key differences. Truman placed tremendous value in loyalty, ...more
Feb 21, 2015 Byron rated it it was amazing
In recent years, I have experienced a resurgence of interest in presidential history. Having read books on Washington, Garfield and FDR, I stumbled across this book which promised an interesting juxtaposition of two very different presidents who were contemporaries of each other, and who presided over the period from the end of WWII to the election of Kennedy. That period represents the time in which I made my appearance on planet earth. By comparing and contrasting Truman and Eisenhower in the ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
Miller proposes an interesting theme: a comparison and contrast of the two Midwestern presidents of the latter 20th century. Miller provides summaries of many of the events in the careers of these two fascinating men. I appreciated them as reviews of events covered more specifically in other books, as an example, Halberstam's "The Coldest,Winter". The book became tedious to me at times and as others have said, repetitive, as though he had written each chapter for separate publication. I also ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Jerry-Book rated it really liked it
Two of our better presidents of the 20th century could not get along. When Ike was inaugurated, they had fights over what hat to wear, who would visit whom first, transition talks, George Marshall, who would get out of the car first, thank you gifts, etc. They were two presidents from the MidWest. But they acted like 8 year boys according to the author. The author attempts to show how two near great presidents (according to current presidential historians--Truman 7th and Ike from 8th to 12th) ...more
Don Weidinger
Sep 12, 2014 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truman last w/o college Captain of Irish battery could have honored Stafford and Dodge put something in bag each day at Potsdam Burns-Wallace-T VP Marshall plan gains support of both houses first to recognize Israel Wallace left of T desperate to win 48 blamed republicans for all Korea like probing action in eastern Europe scandals in admin 22% approval, slow starts, E 16 years captain and major awful atomic bomb bitter transition no party racial integration don’t deal in personalities popular ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jun 12, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Nothing really new here (and Ambrose's Eisenhower stuff is just radioactively problematic for anyone who relies on it), but I like the central conceit of the structure--the 1952 hand-off of power between two men, both Midwesterners, middle class, bracketed by Harvard-graduate Presidents, each with a flashy rival expected to eclipse them (Dewey and MacArthur), their different experiences of WWI and II, and ultimately how their time in power shaped a substantial and crucial chunk of the American ...more
Charles M.
Mar 08, 2013 Charles M. rated it liked it
In this book, the author tries painheardetly to draw parrallels between the lives and careers of Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower---as they were the two most powerful men of the Free World during the late 40s and 50s. Although the two leaders worked side by side in bringing WWII to an end, they parted ways politically (and did not reconcile until JFK's funeral). Not sure if Miller accomplishred what he set out to do!
Jason Reese
Aug 19, 2014 Jason Reese rated it it was ok
Though the book covered a very interesting topic, namely the relationship and interaction of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, the execution was poor. Miller insists on interjecting his opinions throughout, normally via snarky rhetorical questions. Toward Eisenhower he employs a marked hermeneutic of suspicion while giving Truman pass after pass. I would not recommend this book and will continue to search for a better analysis of the Eisenhower presidency.
Oct 11, 2012 Nancy rated it it was ok
This book drove me crazy and it took about five weeks for me to finish it. I swear the chapters were edited by different people, some were well written while others were very redundant and took 20 pages to repeat what could have been said in two pages. There was lots of good historical information but at times the author felt it necessary to interpret the info and make judgements. I would prefer to be given the facts and come to my own conclusions.
Feb 10, 2013 Gregory rated it liked it
My advice: Open it in the middle and get straight to the chapters on World War II, Korea, and their presidencies. The earlier biographical stuff has is supposed to be focused on the odd synchronous connections and similarities between the two men, and it doesn't really show anything new or interesting.
Nov 16, 2014 Robert rated it liked it
Woody Allen's quote , and I paraphrase--90 percent of success is just being there, applies to both these presidents. Truman and Eisenhower succeeded because circumstances made them available. I do not think Miller's book illuminates any dark corners in these two men's lives or the history of the U.S. in the years leading up to WWII and the cold war that followed.
Joint biography, well done. The author is quite opinionated at times, but he makes clear where he is injecting his own judgments. It took me a long time to read this one, with lots of mysteries and other books between starting and finishing. It's interesting, but not especially gripping. You have to be a history buff to enjoy it.
Stephen Davis
Feb 07, 2016 Stephen Davis rated it really liked it
I learned so much from this book about things that were happening when I was too young to fully understand or be aware of. Sentence structure was often complex making this a slow read, but well worth it. The was written recently and benefits from information not accessible to earlier biographers.
Jun 07, 2014 Inknscroll marked it as to-read
The book review from "BookPage" adds more to this important book & pivotal point in history, the Cold War. Here it is, by Roger Bishop: (
Robert Davidson
May 05, 2013 Robert Davidson rated it it was amazing
well written very interesting read of two presidents who came along at the right time with their life experiences enabling them to make very difficult decisions for the greater good. two great americans.
May 28, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
Probably too much detail (would have been a good winter read) but I finally got through it all. A lot of interesting information about them and the times they lived in.
Christy Holthouse
Mar 16, 2015 Christy Holthouse rated it liked it
learned quite a bit, it was very interesting..but the author repeats himself quite a bit in many sections throughout the book. I feel it could have been edited more.
I agree with the reviews below: interesting dynamic, needed a better editor. If I don't finish the book it will be because I got tired of the unnecessary repetitions.
Mic rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2013
Alexander Milan
Alexander Milan rated it really liked it
Aug 01, 2012
Rob Hoesli
Rob Hoesli rated it it was ok
Jun 09, 2016
Vanessa rated it it was ok
Dec 13, 2012
Joyce Prince
Joyce Prince rated it liked it
Sep 16, 2016
Chuck rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2015
Peter J. Eckenberg
Peter J. Eckenberg rated it really liked it
Feb 12, 2016
Mike rated it liked it
Jul 28, 2015
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William Lee Miller is Scholar in Ethics and Institutions at the Miller Center. From 1992 until his retirement in 1999, Mr. Miller was Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought and Director of the Program in Political and Social Thought at the University of Virginia. He was professor of religious studies from 1982 to 1999, and chaired the Department of Rhetoric and Communication ...more
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