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Eisenhower: A Life

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  205 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Acclaimed historian Paul Johnson’s lively, succinct biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower explores how his legacy endures today

In the rousing style he’s famous for, celebrated historian Paul Johnson offers a fascinating biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, focusing particularly on his years as a five-star general and his two terms as president of the United States.

Johnson chro
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 4th 2014 by Viking
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Brooke Pfannkuche-swain
Sep 22, 2014 Brooke Pfannkuche-swain rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
So the copy that I read was an advance uncorrected proof, so though I doubt that any additional information or pictures were added to the final edition, I thought it was necessary to make it clear in case some of my criticisms are misplaced.

As to the writing, this book was written in a clear, plain speaking prose that you do not have to be a historian to understand and follow. However, if you are a historian or even an avid reader of biographies, you might find yourself incredibly frustrated wit
Mercedes Flowers
Mar 16, 2015 Mercedes Flowers rated it did not like it
Let's start with the good parts: the book is well designed. The cover is attractive, the size is totally manageable (and in a busy world, also attractive).

But that's pretty much where it stops. One can tell with the first paragraph that this biography isn't very high caliber. It's poorly written, with a strange, bouncing scope. Quotes are thrown in willy-nilly, hardly integrated. But, you know, that's fine, ok ok, whatever, my plan was to trudge on; perhaps I can at least learn some history. But
Sep 08, 2014 Annette rated it liked it
Source: Free copy from Viking in exchange for a review.
In the 20th Century, Dwight David Eisenhower, also known as Ike, is a person who stands "head-and-shoulders" above so many of the more talked about historical figures. It was remarked in the book, that Ike appeared to be taller than his erect 5'10 stature. He was a man who people were attracted to, they leaned in closer to listen to him, his famous grin charmed the most difficult of people. Eisenhower, covers his childhood in a small
Scott Woody
May 10, 2015 Scott Woody rated it liked it
Another book by Paul Johnson the master of biographies in a nut-shell. I read this book shortly after finishing Churchill also by Johnson. Like Churchill, this book was a quick read full of fast facts and a light amount of editorial by the author.

Johnson's picture of Eisenhower is very straightforward: Eisenhower is a man who was fated to lead a nation. His defining characteristics were an uncanny ability to get along with everyone and an ability to cut through the 1000's of decisions in front
Jul 28, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A very good biography in which a lot of information concerning Eisenhower is presented mostly during his World War II years and his presidency. The book is only 123 pages without index (which was not put in the book sent to me) and much of the material was brief but to the point which the author wanted. Even though I was alive during The Eisenhower years as presidency, I learned a lot about the administration and how Eisenhower related to U. S. government and world leaders. Much more could be ...more
Chris Ross
I listened to the audio book. This book was not as good or as detailed or as long as Ike's Bluff which I recently finished. This book focused more on Ike's early life and life as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces and President of Columbia University more so than his time as President.

The book was merely an overview of his life and did not go into near as much detail about Ike's Bluff which was more about his Presidency.

Still a good book though I liked Ike's Bluff better.
JJ Feinauer
Sep 08, 2014 JJ Feinauer rated it it was ok
Condensing the life of one of America's most well respected generals, who also served two influential terms as president - into 123 pages is an ambitious task. Unfortunately, Johnson proves that it is ultimately not worth it.
Feb 05, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was ok
This book is slanted very favorably toward Ike. The author praises him throughout. It is a very shallow look at the man. The events in which he took part take center stage.
Mar 28, 2015 Rod rated it did not like it
Hagiography. Author is engaged in hero worship more than a critical, scholarly look at Eisenhower's life
Tanvee Agrawal
Nov 09, 2016 Tanvee Agrawal rated it it was ok
Grabbed this attractive book with a hope to finish quickly because of its size. Wanted to know more about Ike'a contribution and the glorious years of America with him as president. Well.... the book couldn't hold me as a reader and I stopped it. Instead, I played YouTube documentaries and learned, got motivated and enjoyed it all the more. For Eisenhower, you were at the right place at the right time, doesn't matter if things started late. :)
Nov 11, 2016 David rated it it was ok
I expected Ike to walk across the English Channel.
(Full Disclosure: I received an advance uncorrected copy of this book for free through Goodreads' First Reads program. The views expressed are my own and do not reflect that of the author, the publisher, or Goodreads).

Recently it seems we've been looking back at the middle of the twentieth century with an increasing sense of nostalgia, due in no small part in recently celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. And one of the beneficiaries of that nostalgia has been the p
Sep 23, 2014 Flewts rated it it was amazing
This was a book I chose because I really didn't know much about Eisenhower and that time period. I was a child when he was president, and this time period was never covered in my history classes. I figured it would be a weighty tome that I would slog through because it was good for me.

What a surprise! It's a slim volume! It's easily readable! Someone wanting an in-depth scholarly work would be disappointed (although there are plenty of notes at the end, and an index) but for the average reader,
Mark Casey
Jan 01, 2016 Mark Casey rated it liked it
These little biographies by Paul Johnson I have been reading are very short. This one took about 4 hours to listen to (2 hrs 40 minutes speeded up 1.5x, as is my practice), and I think in print is only around 145 pages long. It's difficult to give a 4 or 5 star rating to what is effectively a survey biography rather than a detailed one.

That said, I am greatly enjoying these biographies, as they help me get the jist of a person's life without having to spend 12 hours just to get to the point tha
Sep 16, 2016 Bruno rated it really liked it
This is not a bad book. It is well written and reads fluently. But it misses for me its fifth star by being too descriptive. A good biography gets into the mind of the person and the tendencies of society at large. On that point the book remains too superficial.

Overall a good introduction but I was left with a feeling that I was lacking content.
Apr 12, 2016 Matt rated it liked it
“Eisenhower: A Life” is a concise, yet satisfying look at the life of the Supreme Allied Commander and 34TH President written by noted British historian Paul Johnson. In a brief 136 pages, the reader gets a better understanding of a man who until recently was pushed into the background of American history.

Given the shortness of the biography, Johnson doesn't waste words as he details Eisenhower’s early life and the beginning of his career. The path Eisenhower’s career took after the end of the F
May 18, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
I like Paul Johnson, and have read a few of his other books. This brief biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower is right up my alley. Ike was a great military leader during the most difficult and complicated war in human history. He went on to lead Columbia University before becoming the commander of NATO and a two-term Republican president during the 1950s. All in all, a wildly successful life. Eisenhower was a great man in a historically great time. We will not see his like again. Civil. ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Stacey rated it liked it
I won an Advanced Uncorrected Proofs copy of this book through a Good reads, First-Reads giveaway. When I entered the giveaway, didn't realize that the book would be so slim, and was slightly taken aback when I opened the package. I've been used to reading biographies and history books of 500+ pages. I figured that a book with only a little over 100 pages of text would give me the Cliff Notes version of Eisenhower's life. And that's pretty much what I got.

The book skims through Eisenhower's chi
Dec 31, 2014 Irene rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free Advance Uncorrected Proof through the Good Reads giveaway.

This was a very easy read. Brief and very succinct, but it does point out how Dwight Eisenhower's legacy has endured. Even though brief, the book still allows the reader to find out something about Ike, just not everything.

Paul Johnson points out Ike's appeal was his regularness and dependability....he was not one to wear his scholarly mastery on his sleeve. To me D. Eisenhower appeared very grandfatherly and approachabl
Sep 03, 2014 Kerry rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads, and I fully expected this to be another dull, dry, and nap-inducing biography that just summarized the details of Eisenhower's life. I was hesitant at first to actually read this book, but after a chapter or two, I realized I didn't want to put it down. Unlike normal biographies I had been used to reading, Paul Johnson somehow managed to capture Eisenhower's full personality, and presented it in such a way I felt like I had actually known ...more
Paul Miller
I'd only heard of Ike as the benign, 'old school', fairly idle President during the 'lazy 50's', who's primary purpose was to show the 'before' for the glorious Camelot of JFK. Yes, most writers are Dems. This bio paints him as a brilliant staff officer (hard to deny, given his leadership and success in WW II), and a masterful deceiver in terms of the press (he appears dumb by choice) who is always in charge. Who knows? Evidence is presented but the reader is to assume the conclusions b/c the ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Judy rated it liked it
This is a concise biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower that focuses most closely on Eisenhower's leadership in the Allied efforts in Europe during World War II and in his two terms as U.S. President. This is not a scholarly biography of Eisenhower. Instead, it provides an overview of Eisenhower's character and personality and concludes that Ike was devious in his dealings with contemporaries and deliberately manipulated his public image in order to mask his impressive intelligence. Johnson ...more
Sep 28, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it
This is a short, interesting and concise biography about Dwight D. Eisenhower. I live 20 miles from Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower's boyhood home and the sight of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum which I have visited many times. I thought I knew quite a bit about him, but I learned many new and interesting facts from reading this book. If you are looking for an in-depth study of him, then this is probably not the book for you. This book gives you a glimpse into the character of Ike by ...more
Shawn Fairweather
Aug 09, 2014 Shawn Fairweather rated it liked it
This was a free read thanks to Goodreads First Reads! A lot was covered in this generalized summarization of Eisenhowers overall biography. The book was well written however a bit dry at times. Personally I prefer more introspective and informative details as well as side stories and insight when it comes to reading a biography on someone...after all that is the point of a biography. Pretty much everything covered here can be found with much more substance in other books, however for someone ...more
Ms. Reader
Sep 03, 2014 Ms. Reader rated it really liked it
I won this book off of Goodreads First Reads and found it to be a very easy and quick read. The biography of one of our presidents was very interesting, bluntly written, and captured a lot of memorable memories and quality facts about a very intelligent and honorable man. I did feel like the details were all over the place, jumping from one section of Eisenhowers life to the next without much of a breather in between. Some areas, it was hard to keep up since it was all over the place. This book ...more
Book Riot
Mar 02, 2015 Book Riot rated it liked it
This book, Eisenhower: A Life By Paul Johnson, was one I won in a Goodreads give away. I had never read much about Eisenhower but I found this book to be a very interesting short biography of the man. The author presented the many sides of Ike's life in his different careers. He seemed to have been a tricky man as far as letting people, especially the press, know exactly what was happening or on his mind. I am not sure of the accuracy of this portrait of a man who was very important to the ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Doug rated it it was ok
Shelves: presidents, biography
This is a very disappointing book. Every sentence glosses over it's subject. Each paragraph could be half as long and twice as informative; some of those paragraphs fill a page.

The book relates events out of order, which might confuse some reading about Ike for the first time - AG Brownell resigned but a few pages later he gave the President official advice on civil rights problems. In 123 pages (including several that are blank) Paul Johnson said a single thing I did not know - Eisenhower felt
Sep 10, 2014 Chriscross3234 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, reviewed
As a fan of WWII history, I was glad to receive this through Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I've never read a biography on Eisenhower and this book served as a great overview of his life and accomplishments. However, an attempt for brevity results in concise and almost embellished descriptions of Eisenhower that leave the reader wanting a deeper understanding. In fact, I've noted portions in the book that I want to follow up and research further. Overall, it was a great book offering brief ...more
Shannon McDermott
In contrast to Johnson's brilliant longer works, this brief volume does not distinguish itself. Even as a short biography, I found it disappointingly light fare. The analysis is solid but never incisive, and Johnson lacked his usual sharp eye in what anecdotes to share. The most poignant moment in the entire book is an aside regarding Joe McCarthy.

This book is a competent and lucid - pellucid, to borrow a word Johnson uses more than once - account of Eisenhower, but offers little meat. Recommend
Billie Pritchett
Paul Johnson's Eisenhower is a very short little book that moves swiftly from Eisenhower's Kansas life through his life as a soldier and a president and on to his death. It's a decent sampler. Anyone interested in knowing more deeply about the man will have to look elsewhere. Same goes for trying to investigate Eisenhower or his administration's involvement in key world-historical events. Reading a book like this is good to get an overall picture and to decide further areas you might be interest ...more
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Paul Johnson works as a historian, journalist and author. He was educated at Stonyhurst School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and Magdalen College, Oxford, and first came to prominence in the 1950s as a journalist writing for, and later editing, the New Statesman magazine. He has also written for leading newspapers and magazines in Britain, the US and Europe.

Paul Johnson has published over 40 books incl
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