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Mandate for Change, 1953-1956: The White House Years, A Personal Account Hardcover – 1963

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 650 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First edition (1963)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OLC3HI
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,997,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Mandate For Change" is Dwight Eisenhower's personal account of his entry into politics and his first administration. It is well organized and written. Like Ike, it is not flashy, but competent and gets the job done.

This book is organized by topics, which largely follow chronological order. The story begins with the erosion of his long stated unwillingness to enter politics. Although his entry was restrained, he eventually became totally committed. The details of the campaign followed by the assembly of the administration give the reader an insight into what really went on during the course of a 50s campaign. Ike's account of the post election meeting between himself and his staff with their counterparts in the outgoing Truman administration provides an interesting contrast with Truman's report of the same meeting.

The chapters about the actual administration take the reader into the summits in Bermuda and Geneva., through his heart attack and the initial plans for the 1956 campaign.

Much of Eisenhower's attention is devoted to overseas challenges, including the end of the War in Korea, attempted Communist takeovers in Guatemala and Iran, early stage negotiations over the British garrison at Suez, a potential East-West flash point between Italy and Yugoslavia involving jurisdiction over Trieste and issues relating to the defense of Formosa, which focused largely on decisions concerning the defense of Quemoy, the Matsus and other off shore islands. Ike reports a carefully thought out strategy to achieve the defense of the Free World without leading it over the precipice to nuclear war over relatively insignificant islands.
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In my quest to read all the Presidential memoirs of those Presidents who have written their autobiographies or life in the White House, I found Eisenhower's Volume I a bit of an ordeal to read at times. Mandate For Change begins discussing how both parties wanted him to run for President after his success in WWII. There are a few pages dedicated to his years as President of Columbia, and then about being the head of Nato. The chapters are divided upon various topics, in a mostly chronological order. But the toughest ordeal in reading this book was some of the very detailed policy making that he describes during his first term. I feel that his details on some of the bills could have been deleted. It may have been interesting for people living during and right after his presidential years (I didn't mind the policy details Clinton wrote about in his memoirs- but I don't think he went into as much detail as Eisenhower), but for me, my train ride home and to the office wasnt fun. I also feel that there was little personal touch- he describes how he admired Taft, his Republican opponent in the adminstration, but he doesn't go into much detail about what he felt about Harry Truman, Roosevelt, George Marshall, or Richard Nixon. He does, however, describe his thoughts on Winston Churchill.

The best thing about this book that I found was the details of the Vietnam Policy. Reading this book, I found out that the Vietnam War that the US was involved in actually began with the Eisenhower adminstration, and not the Kennedy adminstration, though it was Kennedy who first sent soldiers there. The chapter on how the US dealt with France on the Vietnam issue was extremely interesting to read.
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