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First, I must admit to not caring much for books by people who "hung around" famous people. In fact I, for the most part, despise them. They, the writers, either have an axe to grind, want money or crave attention. I did not find this to be so with this particular work. Due to the circumstances in which it was written, time lines, the author's impending death, etc. I found it to be none of the things I usually dislike this type of work for. The book of course was written by a ghost writer, Barbara Widen, but it is obvious that Widen has captured perfectly the thoughts and perceptions of Kay. I found the book to be quite fascinating as to the late General and the details of his very private life during the height of the war in Europe. Now those that are expecting a torrid, sex filled autobiography tell all will be quite disappointed. The affair between these two people was not the almost gross stuff we read of today. It actually reads more like a high school romance than a story of an affair. The reader also must make up his or her own mind as to how truthful Kay is. For myself, I tend to believe most of what she has written. She had no real reason of make anything up at this point in her life. It would be very interesting to have available Eisenhower's side of the story, in his own words, but that is not going to happen. Most of what the author has recorded is perfectly logical and quite believable. One of the most interesting aspects of this story for me was, the unreal pressure that Eisenhower was under during this period of his life. This work brings this point out quite graphically. The book is an easy read, but I did find that after reading the first few pages, I could not put it down, ergo, I lost a full nights sleep. All in all, this is a very worth while read. It is handled with dignity and insight. Recommend this one highly.
Kay Summersby produced this book while dying of cancer. It was actually ghostwritten, but based on material she provided the shadowy author, who writes extremely well. In fact, it's very difficult to put this one down and I have read it several times over the years. Kay paints fascinating word portraits of various WWII personalities she met, including the profane and hilarious Patton, the bombastic Monty, the loquacious Churchill and the shy Omar Bradley. Of course the most interesting character is Ike himself. There is no doubt Kay was utterly besotted with Eisenhower. She was wildly infatuated with him, as well as being physically attracted to him. How Ike felt about Kay is more nebulous and one can't dismiss the hundreds of love letters Ike penned to Mamie during the time he was entwined with Kay. The fact that Ike's staff denied he was sexually involved with Kay doesn't count for much; for a discreet couple, it's easy to fool outsiders. Kay writes of two thwarted sexual encounters. Both occurred in public houses where people could presumably walk in on the amorous couple. Their first attempt at being intimate was in England, but Ike couldn't perform. He apologized profusely for this failure, but Kay assured him still she still loved him anyway. Their second attempt at consummation was after VE Day, in Germany. Kay claims that clothes were wildly discarded and they tried to get down to business... but again, Ike was unable to complete the act. Poor Kay! Historians debate whether this is all wishful thinking. One might question why a woman would invent a situation where her would-be lover is impotent. If you're going to lie, why not go the whole nine yards and invent passionate couplings all over WWII Europe?Read more ›
I grew up in a time when a honorable man kept his mouth shut and did his duty, not only to his country but to his family. And Dwight Eisenhower did just that. I found this to be a touching story. And I believe her story. She was truly a beautiful woman and I do not question he loved her. But being the honor bound man he was, he realized this could never be. "Loved I not country more...." He may have been a great military man, but on a personal level, he could not destroy the lives of those he had left at home. And he didn't.
One thing that continues to go through my mind is this: Didn't anyone question the fact he took his "driver" everywhere he went?? She HAD to have been more than that to him. Any enlisted man could have driven him where he needed to go. But he took her all over Europe with him, not mention Africa as well. Jobs were created for her. He helped her get US citizenship. Why? Because he loved her........And wanted her near him.
But when he got back home, he came back to reality. This was not going to work for him. And he did what was expected of him. Which makes me feel sorry for Kay Summersby. She may have dreamed of a future with him, but deep down she knew it would never happen. And it didn't.
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This book by a dying Kay Summersby is a poignant account of what can happen when a man and a woman are thrown into a wartime work relationship that is unrelentingly stressful and from which neither dare retreat. In her book, written largely from memory, Kay has no regrets and makes no accusations. She treats her infatuation and love for her near-genius and overstressed boss, Dwight Eisenhower, with grace and sensitive restraint, focusing more on the emotional than the physical. Her book reveals how their extreme discression ensured that virtually no one on Eisenhower's staff understood their special relationship. Anyone who has read the book will understand the post-war denials of truth by those on the periphery of Eisenhower's inner circle. Both knew that when the war ended their love affair also had to end. It is a very personal story without a storybook ending. Her book gives first-hand insight into the personalities and quirks of the major leaders of WW2. Kay treated the emotional aspects of her mutual relationship with Eisenhower with honesty and objectivity. It was a story that needed telling.
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