George Will called Jean Edward Smith "today's foremost biographer of formidable figures in American history." I anticipate this Eisenhower biography to be a work of excellence, because Smith has written a series of exceptional biographies, including biographies of Chief Justice John Marshall and President Franklin Roosevelt. I have read a good many historical biographies and histories, and I believe that Smith, an elder historian, seems unusually rigorous in his research methods, yet he writes is a way that is concise and a pleasure to read. I am eager to read this biography of one of the most important figures of the 20th Century, yet overlooked, Dwight Eisenhower. He was the Supreme Allied Commander of World War II and a successful two-term President of the United States.
Publishers Weekly reviewed this Eisenhower biography and gave it a starred review:
"* Except for FDR, Eisenhower was the 20th century's 'most successful president,' says Smith. After delivering this jolt, Smith, senior history scholar at Columbia (and winner of a Francis Parkman Prize for FDR) makes a reasonable case in this long but always engrossing biography. Eisenhower (1890-1969) spent 16 years as a major in the hidebound pre-WWII army, but the people who mattered (FDR, generals MacArthur and Marshall) recognized his talent. Smith describes a man who commanded the largest coalition army in history without grandiloquent posturing, feuds with superiors, or favoritism to certain egotistical subordinates who responded by disparaging his leadership. As president (1953-1960), Smith credits Eisenhower with leading Republicans away from their isolationist past, keeping the peace, and leaving office more popular than any successor. Ironically, no Republican candidate today would dare praise the legacy of this 'progressive conservative' who slashed the military budget, opposed tax cuts, resisted evil (in this case communism) without going to war, and supported Social Security and federal aid programs. Warts turn up, but Smith portrays a genuinely admirable Eisenhower: smart, congenial, unpretentious, and no ideologue. Despite competing biographies from Ambrose, Perret, and D'Este, this is the best. Photos, maps. (Feb.)"