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Eisenhower in War and Peace
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > WE ARE OPEN - WEEK ONE - EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE - February 2nd ~ February 8th - PREFACE AND CHAPTER ONE - Just Folks (xi - 27) No-Spoilers

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 09, 2015 04:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

For the week of February 2nd through February 8th, we are reading the Preface and CHAPTER 1: Just Folks - pages xi - 27 of the book - Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith.

The first week's reading assignment is:

Week One - February 2nd, 2015 - February 8, 2015
Preface and Chapter 1: Just Folks - pages xi - 27

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book is being kicked off on February 2nd

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, local bookstore or on your Kindle.

This weekly thread will be opened up on February 2nd.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Bentley will be leading this discussion and back-up will be Assisting Moderators Jerome, Kathy and Teri.

Welcome,

~Bentley

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith by Jean Edward Smith Jean Edward Smith

REMEMBER NO SPOILERS ON THE WEEKLY NON SPOILER THREADS - ON EACH WEEKLY NON SPOILER THREAD - WE ONLY DISCUSS THE PAGES ASSIGNED OR THE PAGES WHICH WERE COVERED IN PREVIOUS WEEKS. IF YOU GO AHEAD OR WANT TO ENGAGE IN MORE EXPANSIVE DISCUSSION - POST THOSE COMMENTS IN ONE OF THE SPOILER THREADS. THESE CHAPTERS HAVE A LOT OF INFORMATION SO WHEN IN DOUBT CHECK WITH THE CHAPTER OVERVIEW AND SUMMARY TO RECALL WHETHER YOUR COMMENTS ARE ASSIGNMENT SPECIFIC. EXAMPLES OF SPOILER THREADS ARE THE GLOSSARY, THE BIBLIOGRAPHY, THE INTRODUCTION AND THE BOOK AS A WHOLE THREADS.

Notes:

It is always a tremendous help when you quote specifically from the book itself and reference the chapter and page numbers when responding. The text itself helps folks know what you are referencing and makes things clear.

Citations:

If an author or book is mentioned other than the book and author being discussed, citations must be included according to our guidelines. Also, when citing other sources, please provide credit where credit is due and/or the link. There is no need to re-cite the author and the book we are discussing however.

If you need help - here is a thread called the Mechanics of the Board which will show you how:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...

Introduction Thread:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Table of Contents and Syllabus

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Glossary

Remember there is a glossary thread where ancillary information is placed by the moderator. This is also a thread where additional information can be placed by the group members regarding the subject matter being discussed. Since we are discussing the same time period and the same people will be discussed in this book as in the Liberation Trilogy - please utilize those three glossary parts. They will be very helpful to you and will provide a wealth of knowledge.

Glossary - Part One - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...

Glossary - Part Two - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Glossary - Part Three - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Bibliography

There is a Bibliography where books cited in the text are posted with proper citations and reviews. We also post the books that the author used in his research or in his notes. Please also feel free to add to the Bibliography thread any related books, etc with proper citations. No self promotion, please.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Book as a Whole and Final Thoughts - SPOILER THREAD

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith by Jean Edward Smith Jean Edward Smith

Directions on how to participate in book discussions and how to follow the t's and c's - look at directives given for the discussion Landslide - What Do I Do Next?

I will modify these directives as we go along but for now utilize the information here.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 09, 2015 04:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
All, we do not have to do citations regarding the book or the author being discussed during the book discussion on these discussion threads - nor do we have to cite any personage in the book being discussed while on the discussion threads related to this book.

However if we discuss folks outside the scope of the book or another book is cited which is not the book and author discussed then we do have to do that citation according to our citation rules. That makes it easier to not disrupt the discussion.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 31, 2015 11:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Everyone, for the week of February 2nd, 2015 to February 7, 2015, we are reading the Preface and Chapter One: Just Folks

The first week’s reading assignment is:

Week One - February 2nd, 2015 to February 7th, 2015
Preface and Chapter One: Just Folks - pages xi - 27

Chapter Overview and Summary

Preface:

Jean Edward Smith discusses the different impressions and perceptions folks have about Dwight Eisenhower. He is viewed by some as a beloved general, by others as a "caretaker president" during eight years of peace and prosperity and to others who knew him he was a tireless taskmaster who was before anything else decent and principled who used a lot of "good old common sense".

Despite all of the above, he is still an enigma to many in recent decades who did not know of Ike during World War II or even in his presidency.

Chapter 1: Just Folks

Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas on October 14th, 1890 - for many young people 1890 is a century before they were born. The author discussed Eisenhower growing up during his formative years, his parents, schooling , influences, and his four years at West Point.


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Folks, we are kicking off the next Presidential Series book discussion on former President Dwight David Eisenhower - we welcome you to this discussion which will last for a few months. There is no rush and we are happy to have all of you with us. I look forward to reading your posts in the months ahead.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 07:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Chapter One begins:

The author Jean Edward Smith writes:

"Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, on October 14, 1890. He was the third of seven sons born to David and Ida Eisenhower, and the only one born in Texas. The Eisenhowers lived in Denison from October 1888 to March 1892, and it was the economic low point of their married life. David work for ten dollars a week as an engine wiper for the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy) Railroad, and the family lived in a soot-encrusted shanty near the tracks."

Topics for discussion:

1. Who in America could raise seven sons and feed their wife and themselves for ten dollars a week? Of course this was 1890. What would ten dollars a week in 1890 be equal to today?

2. What were your impressions of Eisenhower's parents and their plight. Of Ike's Dad and Mother?

3. Many times exceptional leaders come from extremely poor backgrounds - what in their background makes them excel?

4. I have to tell you the truth - I had never heard of the River Breathren - what was your take on the group and according to Smith it was one of the most complete and perfectly organized colonies to ever enter the country and they were rich too?


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 06:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
In our discussion we will progress on two parallel paths - the first path will be in discussing Chapter One which really is the beginning of the story line of the book itself.

But we will also digress to pick apart some of the salient details in the Preface. And that will be the second prong of the book discussion for this week.


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 06:59PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Folks, remember to take a look at all three glossaries - these glossaries are housed in the Liberation Trilogy folder and account for the time line of this book as well as the Liberation trilogy so we will be using these three glossaries for both.

Please make sure to sift through all three glossary threads - you will be amazed at the amount of material found within.

I will add appropriate people, events, articles etc as they come up or are relevant.

Glossary

Remember there is a glossary thread where ancillary information is placed by the moderator. This is also a thread where additional information can be placed by the group members regarding the subject matter being discussed. Since we are discussing the same time period and the same people will be discussed in this book as in the Liberation Trilogy - please utilize those three glossary parts. They will be very helpful to you and will provide a wealth of knowledge.

Glossary - Part One - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...

Glossary - Part Two - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Glossary - Part Three - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Topics for Discussion:

1. Jacob Eisenhower (Ike's grandfather) seemed to be quite generous to David (Ike's father) and forgave the loan. What kind of a son do you think Ike's father was and what kind of a father do you think David was to Ike? And what about Ike's grandfather - did Ike take more after him?

2. In a way, did the descriptions of the two personalities (Ike's mother and father) remind you a bit of the union between Mamie and Ike?

3. Leadership - do you think that individuals are born with this capacity and inherit this capability as part of their DNA or do you think that it can be taught? How did Ike acquire the ability to lead? What kind of a leader do you think he was and how was he different than Marshall?

4. How could David just walk away from the business as soon as it started to become solvent and successful leaving a pregnant wife behind in the care of his brother? What are you thoughts about Ike's father? Was it just a lack of maturity or was it something else?

5. Why would a family keep a secret about a family member's horrendous behavior and allow a myth to be created that future generations believed to be true? Why did Ike never know the truth or do you think he did and buried it because it would have brought pain to himself and to his family? How could Ike and his brothers die not knowing the truth - do you think that there had to be other signs of his father's instability?

6. Smith tells quite a story about how Ike's family's homestead came into being -without Jacob's help - there is no telling how he would have grown up. What were your thoughts when reading the background of David's wanderlust and its consequences for his family and himself?

7. Did anybody think it odd that Dwight's brother Edgar was named after Edgar Allan Poe?


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
People say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

What does this photo convey to you about each of the family member's - the children and the parents?



Dwight D. Eisenhower (far left) was 10 years old when this picture was taken in 1902. This family portrait was among his most treasured possessions. Brothers are (left to right): Edgar, Earl, Arthur and Roy. His parents and brother Milton (with long curls) are in the front row


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

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The Epigram is a well known quote of former President Dwight Eisenhower -

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Discuss the above.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
The Preface begins with the following paragraph;

"Dwight Eisenhower remains an enigma. For the majority of Americans he is a benign fatherly figure looming indistinctly out of the mists of the past - a high ranking general who directed the Allied armies to victory in Europe, and a caretaker president who presided over eight years of international calm and domestic tranquility."

Topic for Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts about Dwight Eisenhower. What did you learn in school about the former President and do any group members remember him as President or as a general in World War II? Your thoughts?

2. What are your initial thoughts on the book and regarding Ike? It would be fun to discuss these now and see how your impressions change or stay the same as we discuss and read Eisenhower in War and Peace.


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

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It is always fun to see the human side of a President by seeing his pets.

"During the time the President and Mrs. Eisenhower were in the White House they had only two pets in residence there. One was a parakeet. The other was the Weimaraner named Heidi, who, for a time, lived in the house and roamed the White House grounds at will. She was and is a wonderful dog and was a great favorite of the many tourists to the White House. Heidi is now on the farm here in Gettysburg and recently had two adorable puppies."

Ann Whitman, Personal Secretary to Dwight D. Eisenhower
Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Lee, June 21, 1961



Heidi

Dwight Eisenhower’s dog, Heidi, has the dubious distinction of being possibly the only presidential dog banned from the White House.

(We will set aside, for now, the fact that Jimmy Carter’s daughter’s dog Grits and Harry Truman’s dog Feller — both unsolicited gifts — were rehomed.)
The story goes that Heidi, a beautiful female Weimaraner born May 9, 1955, had an accident on an expensive rug in the diplomatic reception room.
And when we say expensive, we don’t just mean by late-1950s standards. The rug was worth $20,000 at the time! (With inflation, that’s something like $160K in 2013 dollars.)

Heidi’s weak bladder had gotten her into trouble before with the World War II general and his wife, so after the rug incident, the Eisenhowers decided to send the dog permanently to their farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Note: The Reagan dog Lucky was also sent to their ranch in California so Heidi was not the only one (sad).

Wary of Photographers

True to her breed, Heidi was protective of her owners.

She was especially wary of White House photographers and would often try to prevent Mamie Eisenhower from having her picture taken by jumping between the First Lady and the camera. Or Heidi would just jump up on people!

Although the breed has since become more recognized through the whimsical photographs of William Wegman, the Weimaraner was relatively unknown to Americans when Ike and Mamie moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1953.
In fact, until the late 19th century, German breeders required that any Weimaraners sold for a trip to America be sterilized so that the breed standards would not be compromised.

Known for its hunting abilities, the Weimaraner is an excellent family dog and serves well as both a loyal guard dog and a lively playmate. (Read Pets Adviser’s Weimaraner breed profile here.)



Mamie Eisenhower, right, tires to restrain Heidi as the dog jumps up on the director of the Tailwaggers Club of Washington, center. At left is Charles Hamilton of the Animal Rescue League. May 7, 1958, photo by AP wire service.

Source for article: The Presidential Pet Museum
http://presidentialpetmuseum.com/pets...


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

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More on Heidi

She Tends Toward Stubbornness”

The Eisenhower Library website quotes a 1958 letter from the president to Arthur Summerfield, who served as postmaster general for Eisenhower and gave him Heidi in 1955:

“Heidi is definitely an asset to life in the White House. She cavorts on the South Lawn at a great rate, with such important projects as chasing squirrels and investigating what might be under bushes. She is beautiful and well-behaved (occasionally she tends toward stubbornness but is then immediately apologetic about it). And she is extremely affectionate and seemingly happy. I am constantly indebted to you [and your son Bud] both for giving her to me.”

Heidi reportedly enjoyed life on the farm (where there were not as many photographers!) and had at least four puppies after she left Washington.



Quick Facts About Eisenhower’s Dog Heidi

For nearly a year, much of the press didn’t realize the president had the dog — even though Heidi had been “running all over” the White House lawn, according to Eisenhower’s press secretary.

At first Mamie Eisenhower didn’t like the idea of having a dog. But the two were said to become great friends.

On at least one occasion, Heidi had the presidential limo all to herself, with just the driver and a valet sitting up front during a drive from the White House to the Gettysburg farm.

The Associated Press described Heidi as “mole-colored.” The Boston Globe preferred to call her “taupe-gray.” Yet another newspaper pegged the color as “ginger.”

One day Heidi startled one of Eisenhower’s secretaries by pushing the buzzer underneath the president’s desk. The secretary came bounding in, notepad in hand, ready to follow orders.

Back then, as today, reporters tended to go gaga over presidential pets. One newspaper claimed Heidi was fed a breakfast of two poached eggs on toast and two strips of bacon every day — which the White House laughed off and called “ridiculous.” However, one of her two meals a day was cooked ground beef mixed with dry dog food.

Heidi slept in a comfy basket on the third floor, and had full run of the White House and grounds. During the day, she often napped in the president’s private office, where he gave her head scratches and belly rubs.

For at least three years, Heidi still wore a tag that said “To President Eisenhower,” which came with the dog when she was gifted to the president by Bud Summerfield.

Source for all of the above: The Presidential Pet Museum - link in above post


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Heidi and Mamie:



Heidi looks like he is very enthusiastic about the Easter Roll.

It appears that Ike had a dog growing up:



Ike also had two Scottish Terriers in Algeria:




message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Let us begin - what are your initial impressions of the book so far?


message 16: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy (kathy_h) Just started earlier today and only through the Preface. Love the writing so far and I am so excited to read about a president considered great by the author! Honestly, I much prefer to read about greatness than mediocracy any day. Guess I am still a sucker for the hero.


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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I am too Kathy. The writing style makes for easy reading and enjoyable reading.


Bryan Craig Very readable, Smith has a gift for doing great one-volumes, putting together a lot of information with a great writing style.

Smith certainly is raising the bar high. He calls Ike the "most successful president in the 20th century" (p. xii) and "Eisenhower gave the country eight years of peace and prosperity. No other president in the twentieth century can make that claim" (p. xv).

I look forward to see how he presents his argument.


message 19: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Like you, Bryan, I will be interested in how the author supports his "most successful president" statement. I have a feeling that not all readers will agree but that makes for good discussion.


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Yes, his hypotheses are lofty.


Theresa | 84 comments 2. What were your impressions of Eisenhower's parents and their plight. Of Ike's Dad and Mother?

I think Smith mentioned that his parents were very unlike each other and from what is related in Chapter 1 I think that is an understatement.

Ike's dad is a bit of a loser, even taking off for a period of time (I don't remember exactly, several months?). He is flighty, has poor judgement, distorts facts (like the family legend of the business partner that swindled them but who really didn't), and is temperamental.

Ike's mother is the core of family holding them all together. I am amazed at what this woman put up with and without any complaint. I'm not sure what she could have done about it in those times. I can't imagine what it could have been like for her. She must have loved her kids very much.


message 22: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy (kathy_h) Hi, Theresa. Welcome to the read. Just finishing the first chapter myself, I wondered how Ike's parents decided to get married -- they do seem like opposites. It appears that David could have used some mental health care, severe depression perhaps?


message 23: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy (kathy_h) Bentley wrote: "Chapter One begins:
...
1. Who in America could raise seven sons and feed their wife and themselves for ten dollars a week? Of course this was 1890. What would ten dollars a week in 1890 be equal to today?..."


Using an online inflation calendar, $10 would be $263.16 today. So that is $1052.64 a month. And yes there are people who make it on that with a family. Unfortunately there are many Americans living paycheck to paycheck and in poverty.


Ann D This is a very interesting book so far.

Ike was quite the contrast to LBJ, whom many of us are are reading about in the thread on the book Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America. In temperament, Ike was very unlike Johnson. Ike is relaxed and supremely self-confident. Smith says "Ike had no need to prove himself." xvi. When it looks like Ike might not get an military appointment after West Point, he accepts it pretty calmly and says he thinks he'll go to Argentina!

Smith really builds Eisenhower up in the preface. I was dumfounded when I read that "with the exception of Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower was the most successful president of the twentieth century." p. xiii. I wonder how Smith defines success.

One thing in the preface that really caught my eye was this statement: "Eisenhower believed that the United States should not go to war unless national survival was at stake." p. xiii That phrase "national survival" is really strong. I am interested in reading more about his opposition to some of his hawkish advisers.

Landslide LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America by Jonathan Darman Jonathan Darman Jonathan Darman


message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Theresa wrote: "2. What were your impressions of Eisenhower's parents and their plight. Of Ike's Dad and Mother?

I think Smith mentioned that his parents were very unlike each other and from what is related in Ch..."


Thomas I agree but I guess was surprised that Ike had parents who had these kinds of issues. Personality wise and profession wise - I cannot understand the connection that he had to either of them aside possibly his mother. I am interested to read on and find out more. But I agree with you so far.


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Kathy wrote: "Bentley wrote: "Chapter One begins:
...
1. Who in America could raise seven sons and feed their wife and themselves for ten dollars a week? Of course this was 1890. What would ten dollars a week in..."


Thank you Kathy - that seemed absolutely abominable for a family of nine of how many the father was supporting at that time in terms of children plus his wife and himself.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Ann wrote: "This is a very interesting book so far.

Ike was quite the contrast to LBJ, whom many of us are are reading about in the thread on the book [book:Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a N..."


We will have to find out Ann - Smith has presented some lofty hypotheses.


message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Ann wrote:

One thing in the preface that really caught my eye was this statement: "Eisenhower believed that the United States should not go to war unless national survival was at stake." p. xiii That phrase "national survival" is really strong. I am interested in reading more about his opposition to some of his hawkish advisers.

Ann I agree that this was a very powerful philosophy and belief system as was the quote that Smith used as the epigram to the book. Both of these deserve quite a bit of conversation and discussion.


Michel Poulin I have read by now both the preface and the first chapter. Up to now, I find the writing style easy and agreable to read. I however found the statement in the preface (page xii) that said ''with the exception of Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower was the most successful president of the twentieth century'' at the least debatable. As for Ike's parents, my impression of his father David was that of an irresponsible, selfish, self-centered man who did not care for his own children. Ike's mother, Ida, was in contrast a sweet angel dedicated to her sons. David certainly did not deserve Ida and I am seriously wondering what she found in him, unless it was an arranged marriage. Unfortunately, little is said about that in the first chapter. Ike was lucky to have had a mother like Ida.


message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Michael at this juncture I think there are a lot of us who have a "wait and see" attitude like yourself.

I have no idea either aside from the fact that his family was solid and successful so maybe she thought he was a chip off of the old block not some anomaly. Ike's father did want to study engineering but he fell in love - he was rebellious but a devout Mennonite but basically did not have great people skills. Obviously Ike did not inherit those traits from Dad.


Ann D I visited the house where Eisenhower grew up in Abilene. Although Smith describes the house as a "large two-story frame house," I thought it was very small for a couple with 6 sons.

There does seem to have been some mental instability in Ike's father, although we will probably never know exactly what prompted him to go to Denison. He was very lucky that his generous father Jacob stepped in to help him at crucial times.

I found it very interesting that the house that Jacob paid for in Abilene was put in Ida's name. I think that must have been very unusual at the time and an indication of how worried the family was about David's ability to provide for his family. (p.9) In the notes on p. 772, Smith writes that Ida transferred the title to her husband 10 years later.

David sounds like a difficult man - absent even when he was present - but whatever problems he had, he was able to function as his family's head and main provider.

I was amazed at how successful all the sons were, not just Ike.

The main influence, of course, was the boys' mother. By all accounts, she was an exceptional person. Luckily, her children seemed to have inherited her temperament. Although her religion was against any participation in war, she seems to have let Ike go to West Point without any opposition. After Ike had spent two years doing physical work at the creamery, she was probably relieved that he had finally gotten serious about a career!


Bryan Craig Indeed, Michael, the New Republic review also brought this issue of the best and questioned its validity. Me, too. We will see.

Ann-very cool that you visited the house.

I wonder if Ike got his explosive anger from his dad??


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Ann wrote: "I visited the house where Eisenhower grew up in Abilene. Although Smith describes the house as a "large two-story frame house," I thought it was very small for a couple with 6 sons.

There does see..."


I viewed a picture of it on line and I have to agree with you. I think what prompted him to do what he did was not being able to deal with anybody telling him what to do even if he shot himself in the foot. Maybe he was bi polar or had some personality disorder because I totally agree with you that this was extremely odd.

I agree - it is almost as if they all took after the grandfather. Of course the boy's mother was very influential as they always are but Ike did not exhibit the same proclivities as his mother for example who would never have chosen the military profession for her son. I am sure that she would have been very proud of him.


message 34: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
That is an interesting observation Bryan about Ike's explosive temper - he still had his Dad's DNA.


message 35: by Teri (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teri (teriboop) I may have read into things wrong, but as far as Ike's father went, I didn't see him as having some mental issue, but thought he was just the type of person that couldn't find what he really wanted to do in life. He had no interest in farming. He really didn't like being in business either and didn't get along with his partner. He bought his partner out but went into business with his brother. My guess is that they butted heads too. David was stubborn so I expect he and his brother didn't agree on some business issues.

I believe that the time the railroad went through the area and the Katy railroad was expanding in Denison/Dallas. I assume that he might have seen some broadsheet or advert of some kind mentioning railroad jobs in Denison. I don't think it was completely unusual for men to leave wives with family seeking these hard, manual labor jobs, then sending for them later. I do see David as being the type that would start a new job/career but then become easily bored with it and then not do well because he just didn't care care anymore. He didn't finish school either, so another thing in life that he didn't follow through with.

I see some of these traits in Ike. Being stubborn and defiant. A little flighty, consistently getting promoted, then demoted. I'm interested in seeing how his character develops.

And like others, I was a bit taken aback by the comment on he and FDR being the greatest presidents. I wonder how he measures that.


Bryan Craig Good assessment, Teri, I suspect you are on to something. You really get the feeling David was miserable in Abilene, and the fact his sons could get jobs paying more right from the start probably didn't make him feel very good.

Also, I thought the fact Ida had to pick up the slack from David is interesting. It must have been difficult to grow up in a house that the entire household has to revolve around David.


message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Good post Teri but I still suspect that there were some deep seated personality issues here and irresponsibility.

The fact alone that David's family did not put the house in his name speaks volumes.


Ann D I was interested in the strong role that religion played in the parents lives, although Smith says, "None of the Eisenhower brothers shared their parents' religious ardor." (p. 11)

That must have been disappointing to them. Apparently, all that Scripture reading had the opposite of the intended effect.

Ida converted to a sect which is now called "Jehovah's Witnesses," while David retreated into "personal mysticism," (PP. 11-12). However, the River Brethren sect in which they were raised emphasized material success as a sign of God's favor. Perhaps they retained those ideas and that helps explain the strong ambition that all of their sons showed.

Poor David. He must have been a failure in his parents' and siblings' eyes - working all that time for his brother-in-law, who seems to have taken him on as a favor to David's father Jacob.


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Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Yes that is interesting Ann. In fact, I think Eisenhower buried as much as he could his religious family history.

Yes, David's early decisions more than likely strongly influenced his life - Ida was one of those decisions - if he had become an engineer - would his life have been different or better?


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Jerome | 4303 comments Mod
It's kind of interesting how a lot of the religious teaching Ike grew up with emphasized pacifism; I wonder how that affected Ike during the two world wars; apparently not much. On the other hand, Ike was actually the first president to write his own inaugural prayer, and was close to a lot of evangelists during the Cold War years. His views must have evolved over time.


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Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Sometimes rebellion sets in early on and then folks as they get older go back to their roots.


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Teri (teriboop) Well, that was my point, but I maybe didn't clarify it well. Specifically, I don't think that David had a medical/mental issue and I do think we can surmise a reason for his move to Dennison. I think that it was a personality/irresponsibility issue and not a medical/bi-polar issue. I got the impression that he was a kind of a "bohemian" spirit that maybe had a good idea to do something like take over the business or go work on the railroad, but when it came down to actually working, he had no desire to be in those jobs and had no desire to follow-through and I'm guessing he didn't get along with his family. Because of this, I think he went to Dennison to get away. He probably had a fight with his brother who I bet was berating him for not working or handling some part of the business, then he probably saw some ad for the railroad in TX and decided "hey this looks interesting, and I can get away from my family". Once he got there, he didn't do well because it really wasn't what he wanted to do and didn't care. It wasn't unheard of for men to leave for a job and have the family stay behind. I don't think he abandoned Ida/kids but I bet he was happy to be on his own for a while.

Bentley wrote: "Good post Teri but I still suspect that there were some deep seated personality issues here and irresponsibility.

The fact alone that David's family did not put the house in his name speaks volu..."



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Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Could be but I still think he had a personality disorder of some kind - had problems with relationships with others (I assume not Ida) and some of his traits are quite suspect.

That is quite possible and you make some great points but I think the series of bad decisions shows something else when you add it to everything else. But we do not have any concrete information and I bet it is buried with other family secrets. I think mental instability in the father could have affected in those days how Ike would be perceived for promotion and advancement - that is my take. But of course it is hypothesis and conjecture.


message 44: by Maureen (last edited Feb 04, 2015 07:45PM) (new) - added it

Maureen (meg9000) | 45 comments Hi folks - I'm Maureen and this will be my first group read with the History club. I look forward to many more - there are so many interesting books to read.

1. Jacob Eisenhower (Ike's grandfather) seemed to be quite generous to David (Ike's father) and forgave the loan. What kind of a son do you think Ike's father was and what kind of a father do you think David was to Ike? And what about Ike's grandfather - did Ike take more after him?

Jacob Eisenhower seemed to be quite the successful man. I was trying to research how many children he had, and from what I could find, there were 14 of them? If that is true, that is quite a few to watch after. Surely David wasn't the only sibling that floundered in life. Ike's father was clearly a failure as a provider. After being bailed out by his father, he did seem to stick to his job and work hard at it. Who knows what words and agreements passed between father and son. It certainly must have been humiliating. Not only was his father described as very serious, but he also worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week to provide for his family. That doesn't leave a lot of time to play with your children and be involved with their lives, which I think was pretty typical for fathers in that time period. I'm sure Ida worked just as many hours, but she worked at home raising the kids, and so was more involved in their lives. I imagine that all the boys had chores to help with the gardening and milking and raising of the animals, etc.
I would expect Jacob Eisenhower to give his son assistance in the form of finding him a job and arranging for a house for the family. David and Ida were very lucky that his father could do this.

2. In a way, did the descriptions of the two personalities (Ike's mother and father) remind you a bit of the union between Mamie and Ike?

We haven't gotten to the relationship between Mamie and Ike yet, but I think the relationship between his mother and father was pretty typical of couples at the time. They had a lot of children close together and both were stuck, their paths being driven by the needs of their children. We don't know what there was between David and Ida, but she seemed to be fulfilled and connected to her children. She didn't have any choice but to stay; she had no other options. But from what was written, I got the impression that she also catered to her husband and tried to boost his ego and smooth the way for him at home. After all, what else could she do? There weren't many other options for women.

3.  Leadership - do you think that individuals are born with this capacity and inherit this capability as part of their DNA or do you think that it can be taught? How did Ike acquire the ability to lead? What kind of a leader do you think he was and how was he different than Marshall?

I think leadership can be developed, but one has to have the capacity for it, and it is a personality trait. In my own family, my husband and son are natural leaders and have always been chosen to serve in this capacity. I myself have recessive leadership traits. I will let others lead if they want to, but if they don't do a good job, or no one steps up to lead, then I will step up, but I am not a natural leader. My guess is that Ike had the tendency and it was developed as a child when he dealt with brothers and friends, and later at school. I think you have to be fairly easy-going and confident to be a leader.

4. How could David just walk away from the business as soon as it started to become solvent and successful leaving a pregnant wife behind in the care of his brother? What are you thoughts about Ike's father? Was it just a lack of maturity or was it something else?

Well, we're not really given enough information to know, but I would guess that he was embarrassed that his brother was able to make the store work when he himself couldn't. He wasn't interested in farming, and tried something different with the store and failed, so I think he set off to find something else to do on his own, away from the family. Who knows if he just up and left without saying anything, or if he and Ida discussed it and agreed he should go and try to seek something different and send for her when he could. He definitely didn't fit in with his family and becoming a success and needed to find his own way. Unfortunately, he had a family too soon before he had a solid career, so his options were limited. For him to come back and take the arranged job and keep it for so long was very telling. He was stuck and he had no other options, and by this point, he was indebted to his family's goodwill.

5. Why would a family keep a secret about a family member's horrendous behavior and allow a myth to be created that future generations believed to be true? Why did Ike never know the truth or do you think he did and buried it because it would have brought pain to himself and to his family? How could Ike and his brothers die not knowing the truth - do you think that there had to be other signs of his father's instability?

This does not seem so unusual to me. No one wants to admit that a member of their family is a failure, and they wouldn't want the children to know it either. They want their children to think the best of them. I don't think Ike and his brothers knew the truth. It's possible the older brothers may have known, but it seems the family kept it pretty buttoned up. I also don't think we have enough information to conclude the father was mentally unstable; financially unstable -- yes, but not mentally.

6. Smith tells quite a story about how Ike's family's homestead came into being -without Jacob's help - there is no telling how he would have grown up. What were your thoughts when reading the background of David's wanderlust and its consequences for his family and himself?

I don't consider that David had wanderlust. It seemed to me he was floundering to find his place and a life's work, and I think he wanted/needed to get away from his family -- not his wife and children, but his parents and brothers and sisters. It seems to me he was a bit of the black sheep of the family and didn't fit in with the hard work and success that his siblings and parents had. He knew he wasn't cut from the same cloth and needed to find some other way for himself, but he never had the chance.

7. Did anybody think it odd that Dwight's brother Edgar was named after Edgar Allan Poe? 

Yes, that struck me as a bit odd. I would guess that was his father's doing, and also seems to show the immaturity of his parents.


message 45: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Welcome Maureen and I appreciate the comprehensive responses that you have made that are extremely thoughtful, You raised some good points - folks did not have the options that we have today. And that David was or thought of himself as a black sheep - probably true. They said that the naming of the boy after Poe actually was Ida's idea. Your post was awesome - I look forward to reading more.


message 46: by Maureen (new) - added it

Maureen (meg9000) | 45 comments Teri wrote: "Well, that was my point, but I maybe didn't clarify it well. Specifically, I don't think that David had a medical/mental issue and I do think we can surmise a reason for his move to Dennison. I t..."

I saw it that way too Teri. He didn't seem to fit in with his father and siblings, or their life's work. He wasn't interested in what they did, but had no idea how to make a living. He may also have been irresponsible and not interested in doing the work to make his endeavors a success, but just by virtue of the fact that he stuck to his job at the dairy for so long was evidence of his caring for his family, and his willingness to work hard to provide as best he could. But he had so many kids, he didn't really have a chance to 'find himself'.


message 47: by Maureen (last edited Feb 05, 2015 06:41AM) (new) - added it

Maureen (meg9000) | 45 comments "David found it [religious certainty] in the Great Pyramid of Giza, which he reproduced in six-by-ten-foot scale drawing and which he believed corroborated the prophecies in the Bible." (loc 302 in ebook)

I thought that was pretty bizarre, and had never heard of the Pyramid of Giza being used as a religious guide. So I googled it and found there were some theories about the mathematics of the pyramid that purported to show the end of times, aligned with the Mayan calendar.

From "Giza Alignment Code - The Time Temple":
""The conclusion should be made upon a probability, that it may be just coincidental, that these 14 lines are forming a very accurate model of the inner planetary system, showing also a precise time position, that coincidentally matches (relative to the end of Mayan Calendar) the beginning of the final 1260 days time period, mentioned both in the Old and New Testament (surely one of the most remarkable and disputed episodes in the Book), a time period, which allows (and was supposedly measured for) to show in a relatively short period of time, when, and what the End is all about - the mystery of death and the origin of life."

There is a little more at this site:
http://www.world-mysteries.com/mpl_2.htm
(Scroll a little more than halfway down the page - right before the large video.) Oh - and the large video connects the lines and shows what they are talking about.


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Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Thank you very much Maureen for your research and link.


Bryan Craig I thought Marshal Petain's comments on the lack of academic change at West Point in light of the changes in warfare was spot on.


message 50: by Ann D (last edited Feb 05, 2015 08:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann D Thank you for your thoughtful posts, Maureen. I also appreciated your research on the Pyramid of Giza. I really wondered about that.

For the record, I also found it very strange that Ida named her son after Edgar Allen Poe. She must have just liked his poetry and not known much about his personal life. He married his 13 year old cousin and was a bad alcoholic. Then, of course, there are those horror stories for which he is most known today..


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