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Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage
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Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage

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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  370 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
A groundbreaking narrative of the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon—from the politics that divided them to the marriage that united their families.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon had a political and private relationship that lasted nearly twenty years, a tie that survived hurtful slights, tense misunderstandings, and the distance between them
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Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 8th 2013)
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Steve
Feb 09, 2017 Steve rated it really liked it
https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2017...

“Ike & Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage” by Jeffrey Frank was published in 2013. Frank is an author and journalist; he was formerly senior editor at The New Yorker and deputy editor of the “Outlook” section of The Washington Post. In addition to “Ike and Dick” he has authored four novels including, most recently, “Trudy Hopedale: A Novel” which was published in 2007.

It has long been observed that politics makes strange bedfellows. This ha
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Jim Cullison
Apr 10, 2013 Jim Cullison rated it it was amazing
An absorbing depiction of one president's passive-aggressive psychological abuse of his vice-president. Nixon-haters will gain a useful modicum of sympathy for their perpetual villain, as he assumes Grendel-like proportions under the cruel ministrations of the outwardly genial Ike. The cult of Ike gets a valuable shot to the kneecaps. Above all, Jeffrey Frank has written a spellbinding, eminently readable , meticulously documented biography that is invaluable to our understanding of the 1950s.
Adam
Feb 24, 2013 Adam rated it liked it
Over the last five months, I've been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, her massive volume on Lincoln's inclusion of political foes in his presidential cabinet, one chapter at a time. In that same time, I've begun and finished a few dozen other books, usually in one or two sittings, and almost always with ease...but Goodwin's tome remains unconquered on a table in my living room, the bookmark creeping every slowly from front cover to back. The reason it's taken so long is not because ...more
Aaron Million
The word "strange" in the title of this book is quite apt. Individually, both Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were strange individuals (Eisenhower in a more hidden way, Nixon in a more obvious way). Together, their relationship was extremely odd: filled with - on one hand - distrust, mutual suspicion, indirectness, and weariness; on the other hand, guarded respect, admiration, acknowledgment of ability, and, finally, familial relations.

Eisenhower was a master of being indirect, and never qu
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Ben
Feb 07, 2014 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: adulthood
This book is very accurately titled. It is literally about Ike and Dick's strange relationship.

Huge events like Bobby Kennedy's assassination get barely a sentence, but Christmas cards between the two are dissected down to how Eisenhower signs off (i.e. will he use the chummier, 'Ike', indicating that Nixon is a friend and not a colleague? STAY TUNED). I'm not saying that's a bad thing, because that's exactly what I wanted when I picked up the book.

It's amazing how passive-aggressive Ike is in
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Andrew
Aug 04, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it
A well-written and quick read, Frank sacrifices depth to paint in broader strokes and focuses primarily (as the subtitle indicates) on the often strained relationship between Eisenhower and Nixon. If not entirely sympathetic, a more understandable Nixon emerges, though still carrying his many flaws. Eisenhower comes off as a sort of mythic figure, seemingly in keeping with his status in the American imagination at the time, though this means that some of the more nefarious dimensions of his pres ...more
Louis
Jan 21, 2017 Louis rated it really liked it
Most works on either Dwight D. Eisenhower or Richard M. Nixon take Ike's 1952 statement to Nixon, "You're my boy," as the only way to understand the pair. Eisenhower was the general who did not like being upstaged by a running mate young enough to be his son and used him primarily as an errand boy/hatchet man during his presidency. This book goes deeper to show a much more complex relationship complete with hurt feelings and an ultimate merging of the families through the wedding of Julie Nixon ...more
Deborah Blum
Mar 02, 2013 Deborah Blum rated it it was amazing
A great biography and so much more!

The act of real writing begins with recognizing a good idea and in this case, author Jeffrey Frank has honed in on a great one- the dynamic between two American presidents (one current, the other to-be) sealed together in an arranged marriage. Portrayed separately, I doubt that either man would jump off the page the way they do in this fascinating tale.

I learned so much about Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon and had a great time doing so. In fact, I couldn't
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Jim Kelsh
Jun 07, 2013 Jim Kelsh rated it really liked it
This niche history is an historical treat. It follow Dwight Eisenhower's and Richard Nixon's complicated relationship from just before the 1952 convention through Ike's two terms, Nixon's time in the wilderness, Ike's death, Nixon's bruised presidency through his death.
It's clear now through revisionist history that Ike wasn't the smiling avuncular Uncle that his public image seemed to convey. He was a cold, steely number who could cut you off at the knees with a glare.
Most of the ealy part of
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Steven
Mar 04, 2013 Steven rated it it was amazing
You know this Ike - the leader who stumbles over words yet never lets anybody doubt who's boss. Broad heartland smile, piercing blue eyes. But you might not know this Dick. In many ways Jeffrey Frank draws a familiar picture: the insecurity, the attack-dog politics, the social ineptness, the two left feet, the strategic brilliance. But add Eisenhower to the picture and you get a very fresh take on Tricky Dick. To what extent did his awe for The General feed those dangerous Nixonian insecurities? ...more
David
Feb 17, 2013 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
It could be I'm old enough to read about the Nixon era in a way that is historically detached from the emotions I remember while living through that time. This could be why I enjoyed this book so much. Frank provides in-depth portraits of both Ike and Nixon and their complex relationship. Ike is the general and the father figure; Nixon the young turk. Ike didn't support the space program (why go to the moon, they never invaded us) nor any involvement in Vietnam or the Middle East. He felt that i ...more
Michael
Feb 13, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
Jeff Frank has turned in another virtuoso performance. This time, he takes you right into the living rooms, smoke-filled meeting rooms and even the hospital rooms where the personal, private side of Nixon's and Eisenhower's historical events played out. You can see Ike slamming his fists into his hospital bed in agony as he mentally reaches for the word "thermostat" in the days after his stroke. You get an exceedingly rare glimpse of Pat Nixon 's private side and her resentment of the affluent. ...more
Ken Dowell
Prior to reading Jeffrey Frank’s book my opinion of these two men was that Eisenhower was probably a decent man and fairly good president. Nixon, on the other hand, was Tricky Dick. I was half right.

If your image of Eisenhower is of a conquering hero, a general returning from a victorious war as a national hero and assuming the role of commander in chief, you’ll be surprised at Frank’s portrayal. For one thing, Ike couldn’t make decisions. This was so frustrating to those around him that his nor
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Darin Leviloff
Oct 17, 2016 Darin Leviloff rated it liked it
An interesting book about the "tricky" relationship between Eisenhower and Nixon. I felt like it spent too much time on certain episodes (the Checker Speech and the 1956 campaign to drop Nixon from the ticket) and didn't spend much attention to others (the Presidential relationship or Ike not doing more to endorse Nixon in 1960). Seemed to be paced to evenly, so as to almost become a book about Nixon rather that about their relationship. Still interesting, but it could have been more illuminatin ...more
Marshall
Dec 30, 2015 Marshall rated it really liked it
I have say I enjoyed this book, but I believe the author missed the boat on a couple of key facts. These in turn have led me to rate this book as "good" as opposed to "excellent."

To begin with, the author misses the critical achievement of Eisenhower's presidency and that was to reconcile most of it to the reforms of the New Deal. Social Security, collective bargaining, and public works had been the source of derision. Disdain for Roosevelt's vision had held the Republican Party back and preven
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Jim Gallen
Jun 22, 2013 Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing
“Ike and Dick” is the story of one of the strangest but most fruitful political marriages in American history. The two giants of American politics were brought together in the cauldron of the 1952 Republican convention and would feed and fended off each other for 16 years.

A generation apart, Eisenhower was the conquering hero with a secure place in history when he met Senator Nixon, a former junior naval officer. Although having only the benefit of brief encounters, Eisenhower was impressed by N
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Marc
Mar 05, 2016 Marc rated it liked it
This was a really fascinating look into the Eisenhower-Nixon relationship, particularly as it impacted the notoriously paranoid and insecure Nixon. The book is extremely sympathetic to Nixon throughout, portraying him almost as a neglected son constantly longing for the respect of a larger-than-life father.

Eisenhower, for his part, is portrayed throughout to be indecisive and conflict-averse, often leaving his Vice President to squirm and agonize, such as during the 1952 campaign, when Ike was c
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Krista
Mar 04, 2013 Krista rated it it was ok
Like another reviewer below, I think this book should have a different title; perhaps something like "Dick! (with a sprinkling of Ike)"

But the imbalance doesn't even bother me in light of my other concerns about this dual biography.

Though I know very little about these two men, I don't feel all that enlightened after reading this book. Frank seems to be balancing on a line between too much and too little information and, for me, he never quite got it right. He assumed I knew things I didn't. He
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Kristi Thielen
Apr 22, 2013 Kristi Thielen rated it it was amazing
Was his time spent as vice president under Eisenhower the stage during which Nixon solidifed into the devious, suspicious politican who would later destroy his own presidency from within? Perhaps not - the deviousness which was at Nixon's core had been on display before his time with Ike.

But it certainly couldn't have helped Nixon's paranoid insecurities to have been partnered with a man so cold, so inarticulate and so incapable (or unwilling) to throw his hard-working, awkwardly earnest subord
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Linda
May 13, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
I came "of age" during Richard Nixon's "reign" although I was born at the beginning of Eisenhower's first term. I was the first crop of 18-year-olds eligible to vote and I cast my first vote against Nixon. I always knew he was a creepy character and not to be trusted as President. What I didn't know was how sneaky Eisenhower himself was.

At the very beginning, Ike both wanted Nixon and didn't want Nixon as his VP. He put Nixon's name on his short list of candidates and then let a committee decide
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Martin
Nov 11, 2013 Martin rated it liked it
Very readable, flows nicely; not necessarily in-depth, however. This book is mostly an overview of the relationship between Eisenhower and Nixon without the depth you would find in other books dealing mainly with either of these two former presidents.

Having just read the extremely in-depth Nixonland: America's Second Civil War and the Divisive Legacy of Richard Nixon 1965-1972 by Rick Perlstein, I found this book gave a more even portrayal of both Ike and Nixon, as opposed to Perlstein, whose b
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Kirsti
Dec 01, 2013 Kirsti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"[He] used me, but he used me well." --Richard Nixon, describing his professional relationship with Dwight Eisenhower

"Since he did not really trust people, people did not really trust him." --Bryce Harlow, who worked for Eisenhower and Nixon, describing Nixon

I bought this so I could learn more about Eisenhower, but this book is about 75% Dick (har har) and 25% Ike. I suppose it makes sense to spend more time on the rising star in the relationship.

I never thought a book would make me sympathize w
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Tamie
Mar 20, 2014 Tamie rated it liked it
(Book club pick) I find it so interesting to read about politicians from my childhood. I had a very black and white point of view about Nixon and Eisenhower. I found it super interesting to find out about their relationship. Nixon was a tortured soul and some of things he worried about actually happened but his interpretation of what was happening tortured him. An example of this is how Eisenhower would send Nixon out to make speeches when they were campaigning. Nixon would get rather nasty and ...more
Beth Atkins
Jul 28, 2013 Beth Atkins rated it liked it
Ike and Dick should more appropriately be titled "Dick and a few thoughts about Ike here and there" since it is really a partial biography of Richard Nixon, with significantly less attention to Eisenhower. This should not be read as an inherent fault, since overall much more is available on Ike.

Frank is not a historian, which shows in how he treats his "characters," which sometimes devolve to almost caricatures of familiar figures. I appreciate someone who writes critically of Ike simply becaus
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Christopher Richardson
Jan 02, 2016 Christopher Richardson rated it really liked it
I finally got around to finishing this book this weekend. It provides a pretty good analysis of the relationship (or lack thereof) between Ike and Dick. A few things jump out: First, be warned that the book is tilted toward Nixon. On Civil rights and the Suez Canal crisis, the book pretty claims Ike was weak while Nixon was strong on both points. The book sort of leaves the impression that Ike was a jerk who attempted to rise above politics at the expense of Nixon. Even on the Checker’s Speech a ...more
Elizabeth Stolar
Feb 21, 2013 Elizabeth Stolar rated it liked it
I really would like to give this one 3 1/2 -- I vacillated between 3 and 4 stars. This was a good read, although it was a tad repetitive. I felt like I would have liked some greater depth -- detail and analysis of both Ike and Dick, but it was really focused just on their relationship with each other, which is what it purported to be. Just glancing through the book, which has 346 pages of narrative (that is, not including the index, notes, acknowledgements), you know right away that this is not ...more
Alex
Apr 10, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it
I tried to describe my experience reading this book to a friend, and the best description I could come up with was "clammy." Frank shows a nauseating side of politics: men dancing around each other's complexes, neuroses and hang-ups. It's a piece of political life that is almost never spoken about candidly - or, at least, not until many years later. Frank's portrait of each man's reservations and frustrations with the other is fairly brilliant, though at times I wanted him to slow down and expan ...more
Chuck Neumann
May 19, 2016 Chuck Neumann rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much. It gave a needed look at the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. The view of Ike was different than what most saw him as, he was not quite the warm, friendly and kind of detached man the public saw. This man lead the greatest army ever assembled and dealt with ego driven leaders and got his way, so we should have known the public image was only part of the man. I believe the author gives a fair and detailed look at Dick Nixon as well. I discov ...more
John Behle
Apr 23, 2014 John Behle rated it really liked it
I remember these men from being a civics buff in grade school in my suburban Cincinnati parochial school in the 1960s.

A detailed look at the era, post WWII, this book goes inside the two families, brought together by political need and later forged as in-laws with the David Eisenhower/Julie Nixon marriage. On their actual closeness, every reader (and history writers) will have their own call on "how frosty was it, really?"

Frank digs several strata deeper than repurposing Life magazine stories a
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Richard Starks
Dec 17, 2013 Richard Starks rated it liked it
This is a well-researched and readable account of the complex and often fraught relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and his vice-president Richard Nixon - understandably of interest primarily to people who are intrigued by one or other (or both) of these two politicians. The relationship was particularly difficult for Nixon. When running for president himself, Nixon sought an endorsement from Eisenhower. Ike did his best - possibly. At a news conference, Eisenhower was asked if Nixon had part ...more
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170093
Worked as senior editor at The New Yorker. Also worked for The Washington Post.
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