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Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage Hardcover – February 5, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Given that Eisenhower did not want Richard Nixon as his vice president––Ike tried to jettison him in 1952 and in 1956––a host of mutually conflicted feelings must have surrounded their lengthy association. Exploring their interactions in episode after episode, in settings ranging from Republican Party conventions to the White House to golf courses, Frank constructs a marvelous account of political history as well as astute portraits of the two men. Nixon emerges from Frank’s narrative with his oft-chronicled quirks intact but also as a more sympathetic character who, craving approval from the general who won WWII, emotionally suffered from Eisenhower’s diffident thoughtlessness. On the other hand, the ambitious and crafty Nixon capitalized on an Eisenhower weakness––his distaste for personally firing anyone––to outfox Ike, as with his famously maudlin Checkers speech. Pithily describing their relationship as having “a filial aspect, though one without much filial affection,” Frank chronicles it through Ike’s presidency and Nixon’s presidential campaigns with the rich, inside-politics mix of rumor and maneuver in which connoisseurs of political history love to marinate. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Best Books of 2013: Slate Staff Picks

One of Jay Strafford’s 10 favorite books of 2013: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Best Books of 2013: Kansas City Star

Books of the Year: The Spectator (Australia)

One of the Eight Best Books for Potus Geeks in 2013


“Perhaps the most intriguing—and dysfunctional—political marriage in history was the one between the subjects of Jeffrey Frank's meticulously researched Ike and Dick….a highly engrossing political narrative that skillfully takes the reader through the twisted development of a strange relationship that would help shape America’s foreign and domestic agenda for much of the 20th century.” (The New York Times Book Review, cover)

“One of the best books ever written about Richard Nixon…. Ike and Dick shows how much life remains in artfully straightforward narrative history.” (Thomas Mallon, The New Yorker)

"Ike and Dick is an elegant example of how pleasurable political history can be when written by a skilled teller of fictional tales who has a careful reporter’s respect for facts. It is top-drawer as political history, unusually well written, and stuffed with forty pages of notes providing sources for an extraordinary variety of information. It is also an entertaining human tale of generational conflict, filled with the elements that enliven popular novels and soap operas." (Russell Baker, The New York Review of Books)

“Engrossing…worthwhile…. At the heart of Ike and Dick are marvelously cringe-inducing anecdotes that capture an awkward relationship that improved over time without ever truly blooming.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“[A] rare and understatedly important book that suggests a subtle rethink, offering both the casual reader and the student of history a surprisingly candid and humane look at the national villain-in-chief, Richard Nixon. And just as significant, Frank helps to round out our portrait of Nixon’s venerable political mentor, the equally wily and fickle President Dwight D. Eisenhower….[A] carefully argued and nuanced book.” (Charleston Post and Courier)

“Jeffrey Frank is a nimble writer with a clear-eyed understanding of power….[Ike and Dick] reveals the nuances of the complex relationship between Nixon and the man under whom he served as vice president, Dwight Eisenhower, nuances that should resonate with Republicans who are waging an internecine struggle over the future of their party.” (The Miami Herald)

“Jeffrey Frank knows a good story when he sees one, or sees two….Ambition and hesitation, intrigue and indifference, scheming and serenity, infuse 31 chapters. His saga evokes the seamy underside of the sunny 1950s…..[A] detailed and charming history.” (Martin F. Nolan, The San Francisco Chronicle)

“This is superlative, compelling, can’t-put-it-down history. Jeffrey Frank is an elegant writer, with a novelist’s eye; the relationship between Eisenhower and Nixon, in all its complexity and weirdness, is a treasure chest that he unpacks brilliantly. This is the perfect time for us to reconsider the trajectory of the Republican Party in the late twentieth century, and this book is a perfect way to do it.” (Joe Klein, Time columnist)

“To read this book is to be reminded of Richard Nixon’s singularly tortured character in all its cussedness and genius—and to learn anew of Dwight Eisenhower’s capacity for shrewd political cunning and often insouciant human coldness. Ike and Dick deeply textures our understanding of two outsized American personalities and the complex layers of their long and consequential relationship—and it’s full of delicious gossip, too.” (David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Freedom from Fear)

“The mating of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon was one of the strangest and most fateful in all of American political history. With psychological acuity and perfect pitch for the not-so-distant past, Jeffrey Frank has captured the story beautifully. Ike and Dick will surprise and greatly entertain as well as enlighten you.” (Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy)

“Anyone interested in U.S. politics will enjoy Jeffrey Frank’s absorbing tale of two very different men and their turbulent relationship.” (Bookpage)

“Fascinating.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Ike and Dick is enthralling, innovative, and judicious. It rivets the reader. Jeffrey Frank knows Washington and national politics inside and out. He employs numerous interviews and recently declassified information superbly. In critical respects, and by using their own words with meticulous care, he peels away layers of disingenuousness from both men. The cast of characters, including indiscreet aides, ranges from bright red to shady gray.” (Michael Kammen Pulitzer Prize-winning author and past president of the Organization of American Historians)

“The author does a fine job delineating the complex personalities of both men, and he provides novelistic touches befitting his background….A well-researched and -written history that will satisfy both Eisenhower and Nixon aficionados.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Frank constructs a marvelous account of political history as well as astute portraits of the two men….the rich, inside-politics mix of rumor and maneuver in which connoisseurs of political history love to marinate.” (Booklist)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416587012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416587019
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

IKE AND DICK: PORTRAIT OF A STRANGE POLITICAL MARRIAGE is a narrative history that explores the complicated political and personal relationship between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon--a sometimes painful association that lasted nearly twenty years. The years I spent working on it were enormously interesting, not least because I had a chance to interview dozens of men and women who knew and worked with both men, as well as family members.

IKE AND DICK was published by Simon and Schuster in early 2013 and is now out in paperback. THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, in a front-page review,called it "meticulously researched....a highly engrossing political narrative that skillfully takes the reader through the twisted development of a strange relationship that would help shape America's foreign and domestic agenda for much of the 20th century." Russell Baker, in THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, called it "an elegant example of how pleasurable political history can be when written by a skilled teller of fictional tales who has a careful reporter's respect for facts. It is top-drawer as political history, unusually well written, and stuffed with forty pages of notes providing sources for an extraordinary variety of information." Thomas Mallon in THE NEW YORKER called it "one of the best books ever written about Richard Nixon."

There's a terrific audio version of IKE AND DICK on Tantor Audio, read by the award-winning Arthur Morey. As SoundCommentary put it, "...the depth of his talent is revealed when he reads in the voice of Ike, Dick, JFK, or any of the other historical figures that people this work, because he ingeniously imbues his voice with subtle changes that only hint, without mimicking, those well-known voices."

A bit more about me: I've also written four novels, three of which--THE COLUMNIST (2001), BAD PUBLICITY (2004), and TRUDY HOPEDALE (2007)--comprise the Washington Trilogy. I'm also the co-author, with Diana Crone Frank, of a fresh translation of Hans Christian Andersen's stories. And I'm a journalist: I was deputy editor of the Outlook section at The Washington Post as well as a senior editor at The New Yorker for more than thirteen years.

My Web site: www.jeffreyfrank.com
Facebook page: wwww.facebook.com/IkeandDick

Customer Reviews

Mr. Frank's book is very well written and a smooth read.
Mark Conrad
I came away with a lesser view of the great general because of his inability or unwillingness to express himself clearly and to execute difficult decisions.
Edward M. Phillips
Frank does an excellent job at looking at Eisenhower and Nixon - the "good copy/bad cop" of the 1950's and their tangled relationship.
Jill Meyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeffrey Frank's new book, "Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage", is one of those great books that examines the personalities and events that can make a small part of history so important. Frank does an excellent job at looking at Eisenhower and Nixon - the "good copy/bad cop" of the 1950's and their tangled relationship.

If Dwight Eisenhower was the popular choice of the Republican Party, and then the country's voters in 1952, his running mate, Richard Nixon, was not. Eisenhower, drafted into public life through his war record, was not of a political bent. In fact, his allegiance to one of the two parties was in doubt until he declared he was a Republican in the early 1950's. He didn't care for politicians and never quite trusted them. And Richard Nixon, former congressman elected to the US Senate in 1950 in a particularly dirty race against Helen Gahagan Douglas, was a consummate politician. A 20th century Machievelli, so to speak, without any personal charm. Nixon was well aware of his own limitations. In 1952, various Republican advisers pitched Nixon to Eisenhower as his best choice of a running mate; Nixon was brought on to shore up the right side of the Republican ticket. But Eisenhower and Nixon had a difficult relationship from the campaign on through to their eight years in office. When scandal threatened Nixon's place on the ticket in 1952, Eisenhower stepped back and let Nixon face the public with his famous "Checkers" speech. In 1956, Eisenhower let Nixon dangle before welcoming him back on the ticket. The two men were not personally close and the Nixons, for instance, were never invited to the Eisenhowers' personal residence at the White House.

What did Eisenhower get from having Nixon as his vice-president for eight years?
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael York on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeff Frank's examination of this remarkable political pairing is brilliant. He tells the story of their relationship, and he does it with such detail and skill that you think you're actually there. It's not meant to be a comprehensive treatise of the two presidencies, but in a way it's much more. Frank takes you inside the Nixon and Eisenhower homes, inside the real smoke-filled rooms (Ike peaked out at almost three packs a day) and even inside the hospital rooms. There's a ton of new detail and vignettes, including an indelible image of Ike recovering from his stroke and slamming his fists into the bed as he tried to reach for the word "thermostat.'" And there's a lot more. Be sure to watch out, near the end, where Frank challenges the one-dimensional view of Nixon with surprising evidence of his human side. I hated for it to end.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth on February 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Nixon was first elected to Congress in 1948. By 1952, he'd made a name for himself as a hard-working, well-prepared, anti-Communist member of the House Unamerican Activities Committee; and been elected to the U.S. Senate after a vicious campaign that earned him the moniker "Tricky Dick", with which he would be associated for the rest of his life. Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower had recently returned from World War II where, as Supreme Allied Commander, he became a war hero to the American people. Both political parties had recruited him to run for President, but he chose to run as a Republican. Ike and Dick had met each other a couple of times, but did not know each other well, and Ike apparently selected Nixon to be his running mate on the recommendation of his advisors. "Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage" addresses the relationship between the two men from 1952, until Eisenhower's death in 1969. Most of the book focuses on the years from 1952 to 1960, when Ike left office and John Kennedy defeated Nixon for President. Author Jeffry Frank attempts to represent a dynamic in which an insecure, but bright, Richard Nixon continually seeks to win the approval of a powerful, but distant, older man (Ike) who consistently fails to give him the approval he craves. I think the premise is interesting, and certainly anyone who followed Watergate a few years later can accept that Richard Nixon had significant insecurity issues. It is Eisenhower's role I had trouble buying.

This book is really about Richard Nixon. Eisenhower is never developed as a character beyond the extent Frank needs to support his point that he was "cold, aloof, and secretive".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By richard b. on April 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is overall an entertaining book, in large part a fascinating reflection on two different people who had to work together at the highest level. The book is most interesting and revealing in the years in which Ike and Dick were formally connected, which was Ike's term as President. The personality of Eisenhower is most revealing during this time, especially the way in which he treated Nixon. And, it brings out Nixon's insecurities and struggle for attention and responsibility. The less interesting phase is Nixon's Presidency and the campaign leading up to it. The author stretches to fill in the relationship a bit by elaborating on Ike's health problems,and subsequently, a somewhat boring account of David and Julie. The two are discreet people who simply are not interesting, and its seems the author had to build this in to extend the Ike and Dick relation even though it was less a relevant one compared the RN's Vice-Presidential years. Regardless of how you feel about Nixon, the book's section on his Vice-Presidency paints a fascinating portrait of the man, how he developed as more than a Red-baiter and took on substantive policy responsibilities. And, he did so in the strange environment of Ike, who seldom sent messages of confidence, and frequently did the opposite. At certain stages, it was as if Nixon was just surviving the moment in the face of Ike's treatment of him. All of this made Nixon a much tougher guy, as he slowly developed something in the way of support from the General.
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