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Eisenhower in War and Peace

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  3,926 Ratings  ·  296 Reviews
The Christian Science Monitor • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Magisterial.”—The New York Times

In this extraordinary volume, Jean Edward Smith presents a portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower that is as full, rich, and revealing as anything ever written about America’s thirty-fourth president. Here is Eisenhower the young dreamer, charting a
ebook, 976 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2012)
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Sep 13, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
My ongoing exploration of presidential biographies led me to explore the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, as depicted by Jean Edward Smith. With a preponderance of information, Smith is able to develop a fairly comprehensive look at the man who rose to greatness as the Supreme Allied Commander in the European Theatre during the Second World War. This preceded taking the reins of domestic power as he led America in the early stages of Cold War aggression. As the title suggests, Eisenhower was a man ...more
John  Bellamy
May 09, 2012 John Bellamy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 21, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 and 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 – particu ...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
Jul 02, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Bohnert
Dec 28, 2016 John Bohnert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This biography of Ike gave me a new understanding of Eisenhower as a general and later as president. I admire Ike very much as a result.
Jun 12, 2012 Harold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President when I was 3 years old and left office when I was 11. I have read little about Eisenhower until this year. This is the 3rd book that I have read about him this year and is the first full biography.

Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890 in Denison, Texas, the 3rd of 7 sons born to David and Ida Eisenhower. His father had moved the family from Kansas in 1988 to find work. The Eisenhowers only lived in Texas for 4 years before they moved back to Kansas. D
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.
Dec 12, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Published in 2012, “Eisenhower in War and Peace” is Jean Edward Smith’s third presidential biography (following “Grant” in 2001 and “FDR” in 2007). Smith taught political science at the University of Toronto for 35 years and at Marshall University for 12 years. His most recent (and controversial) biography “Bush” was published in July 2016.

The first comprehensive biography of Eisenhower in a decade, Smith’s review of the 34th president is lengthy (with 766
Apr 28, 2012 Wanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Brian Eshleman
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
Feb 15, 2017 Alexis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Readers, Biography Readers, Readers Interested In Presidents
As always, Jean Edward Smith was a pleasure to read, well researched and with insightful notes and comments throughout the chapters. I absolutely loved this biography of Eisenhower and learned a lot about him that I previously did not know. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys presidential biographies or has an interest in WWII and/or the 1950's.
Emmett Hoops
Aug 21, 2016 Emmett Hoops rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 30, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 09, 2012 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan O
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
Peter Wolfley
Apr 23, 2017 Peter Wolfley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eisenhower lived such a full life that even though this book just hits on the highlights of his great life, it is still 700+ pages. Eisenhower's close friend, General George Patton, always said that Ike had a "divine destiny" and you can see that play out in this book. It really makes you feel like people are put on Earth at certain times for very specific reasons.

Nobody but Eisenhower had the unique set of skills, experience, and personal qualities to lead the allied powers to victory and guid
Apr 19, 2017 Loni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean Edward Smith writes a comprehensive (almost 800 pages) new bio of Eisenhower. I enjoyed this very much and I’m looking forward to reading his bio on Grant. I learned some new details about the era and his presidency. Here is a quote: “As president, Eisenhower restored stability to the nation. His levelheaded leadership ensured that the United States would move forward in measured steps under the rule of law at home and collective security abroad. His sensible admonition upon leaving office ...more
May 18, 2012 Nikki rated it it was amazing
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
Grady McCallie
Jan 24, 2016 Grady McCallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2016 Ben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I end up saying this about a lot of biographies, but in a world where David Halberstam and Robert Caro wrote/write, otherwise fine books feel quite lacking. If you walk away from a Caro or Halberstam work, you get a very real feel for not just the subject matter's personality, but also what made them tick. What drove them, how they operated, etc. These opinions are obviously open to interpretation--people are complicated! But you feel like there's an ethos or theory. It's also why those books te ...more
I loved this literary, compelling biography of President Eisenhower. There is plenty of the personal here, including his and Mamie's constant push/pull and his ice cold rejection of Kay Summersby after she supplied a war's worth of support and succor. Where Smith is most engaged, however, is where he is making the case that Eisenhower's leadership skills and judgment have been undervalued by both contemporaries and historians.

What were the strengths? Smith makes a good case for Eisenhower's esse
Aug 27, 2012 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 21, 2015 May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Josh Liller
Aug 31, 2013 Josh Liller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  • James Madison and the Making of America
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  • John Tyler: The Accidental President
  • Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield
  • Coolidge: An American Enigma
  • The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #4)
  • Roosevelt's Centurions: FDR & the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II
  • Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full
  • Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy
  • John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life
  • Franklin Pierce: New Hampshire's Favorite Son
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
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