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In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. Historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower's accomplishments were enormous and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times. A former general, Ike kept the peace: He ended the Korean War, avoided a war in Vietnam, adroitly managed a potential confrontation with China, and soothed relations with the Soviet Union after Stalin's death. He guided the Republican Party to embrace central aspects of the New Deal like Social Security. He thwarted the demagoguery of McCarthy, and he advanced the agenda of civil rights for African Americans. As part of his strategy to wage and win the Cold War, Eisenhower expanded American military power, built a fearsome nuclear arsenal and launched the space race. In his famous Farewell Address, he acknowledged that Americans needed such weapons in order to keep global peace - but he also admonished his citizens to remain alert to the potentially harmful influence of the "military-industrial complex".
From 1953 to 1961, no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA, and the Defense Department and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower's close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this "do-nothing" president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had.
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By John on 05-28-18
A Very Thorough and Balanced Biography
Hitchcock has written a very thorough and balanced biography of Eisenhower's years as President. It is not meant to be a chronicle of his entire life. Within its scope, the book is very comprehensive and interesting. Although the book generally is kind to Eisenhower, it is not a fawning portrayal and includes appropriate criticism, particularly of the U-2 affair and Eisenhower's approval of covert action that was much in contrast to his public foreign policy.
Probably the best thing this book does is to present a portrait of a decent and highly intelligent man who had to govern in a very difficult time. He did this mostly by moderation and largely in a bi-partisan way. To critics, such as on civil rights, he never did enough. But he probably did what was possible during his time--a time that included a block of southern Democrats (yes, Democrats) committed to segregation. This moderate approach also won out on foreign policy--he was able to end the war in Korea and avoid war elsewhere. He was not afraid to play hardball--including with our allies--when necessary.
The book is also notable in the respect that Eisenhower clearly had for the office he occupied. This sense of respect seems to have been lacking both inside the office and outside for most of the last twenty years.
Written from enough distance, the book offers a great sense of perspective. It is clear that the political "intelligentsia" of the time vastly underestimated and underappreciated him. The only consistency with that crowd is how often they were wrong then, and how constant that has stayed through the years.
Excellent book. Good narration.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Mark on 04-21-18
Fantastic analysis of an often overlooked man
The Age of Eisenhower is an in-depth account of a somewhat misunderstood and under appreciated man and time in our nation’s history. From his ending of the Korean War to his policy of peace through strength and his better-than-popularly-understood record on civil rights, Ike’s accomplishments are numerous. As the author astutely points out, Ike was disparaged by the press and his successor JFK at the conclusion of his presidency and is only recently regarded as one of our nation’s greatest chief executives.
The Audible version of this excellent book is well narrated and easy to listen to in the car.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful