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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

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  68 reviews
An absorbing account of “the most intriguing—and dysfunctional—political marriage in history” (The New York Times Book Review, front page review).

One of the most acclaimed political biographies of our time, Jeffrey Frank’s Ike and Dick takes you inside the strained and complex relationship of two fascinating American leader
Paperback, 448 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 8th 2013)
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Jim Cullison
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.
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
John Behle
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
Jim Kelsh
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
Deborah Blum
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
David R.
Frank tries his hand at documenting the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and his Vice President/protege Richard Nixon from 1953 through Eisenhower's death in 1969. Frank doesn't quite get a firm sense of either man (better individual biographies of each exist) nor does he quite convince me that he quite grasped the partnership. It's obvious that the forced union was one of political expediency: something similar took place in 1988 when a GI Generation Bush tapped Baby Boomer Dan Quayle for ...more
Interesting book about the relationship between two men who shared a 20 year political partnership AND family (I had forgotten that Nixon's daughter married Ike's grandson). Also a good summary of how different politics were in the 50s compared to now (ie back when conventions and newspaper editorial boards mattered).

The book is less succinct than it could have been (as is the case with most non-fiction books). And Nixon kind of overwhelms the narrative (as Nixon is wont to do). Its final thesi
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
"[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
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
Jim Gallen
“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
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
Kristi Thielen
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
Beth Atkins
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
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
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
Richard Starks
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
book focuses the relationship between the two men and tries to paint a picture of a rather insecure dick yearning for and never attaining the unequivocal support of a somewhat elusive ike. the author of these kinds of books must walk a thin line between presenting facts and delivering conclusions, the former being the most honest and the latter being the most entertaining. for the most part the author does a good job, but there are times when some of his conclusions don't seem quite as justified ...more
Michael Arden
The author comes up with superlative portraits of the two politicians, concentrating on their personal relationship over the years. It’s a balanced, warts and all view of both men, and one even tends to feel sorry for Nixon considering how often his mentor slighted and snubbed him. Eisenhower comes across considerably less jovial than how the public perceived him. The most likeable person to appear in the story is Julie Nixon Eisenhower. By falling in love with and marrying Ike's grandson, David ...more
Two thoughts. One, my admiration for Eisenhower continues to grow over the years and this book did nothing to diminish that. One of our great military leaders who navigated us in very dangerous times as President with a health dose of "The Military Industrial Complex."

You get additional insight to Nixon's psychology and some of the things that probably contributed to the flaws of what otherwise was a brilliant man.

In the end we have a really good book covering the 50's and 60's politics and the
H Wesselius
Although it promises to be a dual biography of Ike and Dick, the majority of the book focuses on Nixon. The description of Eisenhower is somewhat incomplete and without nuance. There are far better and more sympathetic biographies of Eisenhower and readers who are interested in Eisenhower should skip this book.

Although the portrayal of Nixon is quite sympathetic, I was constantly waiting for Nixon to "man up" or "grow a set". Nixon comes across as lacking self esteem and easily hurt by others.
Margaret Sankey
In 1945, Navy officer Nixon watched Eisenhower in a NYC victory parade--a few short years later, he was serving as his vice president. Frank, who is usually a novelist, had a good touch for reconstructing the feelings these two men had for one another (after most meetings, they each told enough other people that the Presidential library paper trails are significant), probably respect and a sense that they needed one another, but never giving way to genuine warmth or affection, even when they bec ...more
Robert Hoffman
Jeffrey Frank takes on the curious, challenging, revealing and uncomfortable relationship of Eisenhower and Nixon. He generally succeeds in telling a story that is at times interesting and sad. The manner in which Nixon is treated by Ike certainly gives evidence to how the relationship fed Nixon's insecurities and approach to politics and governance. Frank is at times sympathetic toward Nixon when it came to how he was treated by Ike and Ike's inner circle, but does not let that excuse or justif ...more
An interesting history of the interaction between these two men. Enough new information to keep you going if you are already informed about the era. And an easy going read if the total period is new to you.
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Worked as senior editor at The New Yorker. Also worked for The Washington Post.
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