Steven Peterson's Reviews > Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower by Tom Wicker
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Aug 11, 2009

really liked it
Read in May, 2008

"I like Ike." A statement that defined the political world of the 1950s. The popular leader of Allied forces in the European Theater during World War II received high approval ratings from the public throughout his presidency. This brief book, a part of The American Presidents series, provides a brief and readable glimpse of Ike's life and his presidency. The author is Tom Wicker, who originally achieved considerable visibility as a columnist with The New York Times.

If you're like me, you might rather read D'Este's "Eisenhower," which takes almost 700 pages to text to bring his biography to the end of World War II. However, most people will not be interested in such a massive work, and the 140 page volume by Wicker is apt to prove more attractive to people.

As with other volumes in the series, this one begins with the family background and Dwight Eisenhower's early years. Some readers might be surprised to know that, when he went to West Point, he was a star football player (and see the incredible confrontation between Ike and his mates and Jim Thorpe and his in books such as 'Carlisle vs. Army"). Later, he began to work his way up the military hierarchy, by providing excellent staff support to leaders such as Generals Pershing, MacArthur and Marshall. When World War II broke out, he was not an especially visible figure. Soon, though, he rose to Allied command in North Africa and then in Europe. Other books describe this period in much more detail--and illustrate both his strengths and his weaknesses. After the War, he served in a number of capacities. In 1952, he began his quest for the presidency.

The book does a nice job of showing how he won the nomination. Then, his major challenges: the War in Korea, Quemoy and Matsu, the U-2 shoot down, Dienbienphu and Vietnam, Senator McCarthy, economic slowdowns, physical ailments (heart attack and stroke), the space race, relations with the Soviet Union, and so on and so on. Once thought of as a rather amiable cipher as president, historians and political scientists more recently have reappraised his presidency. I am not sure that that reappraisal always manifests itself in Wicker's book.

Then, the transition as of the election of 1960. The relationship between Eisenhower and Nixon is played out reasonably well in this book. Then, after the e3lection, Eisenhower's retirement from public service and his later years.

As a brief biography, this works pretty well. For those wanting to get a sense of Dwight Eisenhower in a compact book, this is pretty good.
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message 1: by Jpski3332002 (new)

Jpski3332002 I may never read this one, Steven, but I've always been very curious about the fifties and his Presidency in particular. A silent generation and a seemingly silent President. Thanks for the heads up. JP


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