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Up front: I'm a Gen-Xer, so I was totally ignorant of who Eisenhower was as a man, a general, a president (well, okay, so maybe I knew a liiiittle bit). Therefore, I found this book absolutely enthralling. It's more a bio than an account of those Three Days in January, though those are covered. But it's a sensitive account of a remarkable man, his beliefs, his doggedness to do the best for the country (even if it wasn't popular with his party), a man who was willing to make compromises and say the tough things, do the tough things, make some of the toughest decisions imaginable (Korea, the Cold War, etc.).
I would have liked it if it started with his prophetic farewell address but, though there are snippets of it quoted here and there, it's not read in full until the Appendix. What a wowzer! It's as true today as ever it was (see: George Washington's farewell address).
Further, while Baier says up front that he's not an historian but is a journalist and is thus presenting information for us to make our own judgments, he's very, very pro-Ike to the point of glossing over some (minor) failings, and to saying things like, "What Eisenhower ACTUALLY meant was..."
Still, a fascinating look at a genuinely amiable man who walked the walk. And only a former president will know what it's REALLY like...
13 of 16 people found this review helpful
The author puffed out the book with a brief biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. Also included was Eisenhower’s farewell address. Ike stressed the critical need for bipartisanship and balance in all governmental and foreign affairs. The complete speech is in the appendix of the book. I found the speech most interesting considering all that has happened since it was given.
When Ike took office, the relationship between Truman and Ike was strained. According to the author, Ike wanted to help the new president’s transition into office, as he apparently admired John F. Kennedy. Baier tells about the last three days in office where Ike attempted to prepare JFK for the current and ongoing problems he would be facing as president. Ike warned JFK about the military industrial complex, and the enormous federal funding that needed to be restrained. I found this part of the book quite interesting. I wish the author had gone more in depth about the discussions between Ike and JFK. I realize that there may be a limited amount of information available.
I was most disappointed in the rest of the book because of the numerous factual errors, particularly in the biographical sketch of Eisenhower and about WWII. Most books have one of two minor errors, but this book goes beyond that. I don’t know whether it was due to sloppy editing or sloppy research. For example, Baier states that Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and FDR comprised a troika of the allied front. Troika connotes three persons working together. De Gaulle played no such role. There were to many errors in the North African Campaign to list here. There are a number of good biographies about Eisenhower available if one wants to know more about him, for example: one of the recent ones is Jean Edward Smith’s “Eisenhower in War and Peace”.
In spite of the errors, I found the book most interesting and enjoyed it. If you are interested in learning about the Cold War and presidential transitions, this book is for you. Bret Bier is an anchor newsman for the Fox Network.
I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is about ten and half hours long. Bret Bier and Danny Campbell did a good job narrating the book. Campbell is an actor and audiobook narrator.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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Was looking forward to hearing about a the transition took place. After a few chapters of hearing about the godlike Ike I gave up and moved on.