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Eisenhower in War and Peace Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 21, 2012
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“Magisterial.”—The New York Times
“[A] fine new biography . . . [Eisenhower’s] White House years need a more thorough exploration than many previous biographers have given them. Smith, whose long, distinguished career includes superb one-volume biographies of Grant and Franklin Roosevelt, provides just that.”—The Washington Post
“Highly readable . . . [Smith] shows us that [Eisenhower’s] ascent to the highest levels of the military establishment had much more to do with his easy mastery of politics than with any great strategic or tactical achievements.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Always engrossing . . . 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.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“No one has written so heroic a biography [on Eisenhower] as this year’s Eisenhower in War and Peace [by] Jean Edward Smith.”—The National Interest
“Dwight Eisenhower, who was more cunning than he allowed his adversaries to know, understood the advantage of being underestimated. Jean Edward Smith demonstrates precisely how successful this stratagem was. Smith, America’s greatest living biographer, shows why, now more than ever, Americans should like Ike.”—George F. Will
About the Author
Jean Edward Smith is the author of the highly acclaimed FDR, winner of the 2008 Francis Parkman Prize; Grant, a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist; John Marshall: Definer of a Nation; and Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. A member of the faculty at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years, and at Marshall University for twelve, he is currently a senior scholar in the history department at Columbia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Though the book is listed as having almost 1000 pages, there are many pages of notes, acknowledgements, and an index. The actual text in my edition was about 766 pages and well more than half dealt with his years in the military, particularly the WWII years. Throughout it is clear that author Smith greatly admires Ike but that did not prevent his most critical assessment of Ike throughout both his military and presidential careers. For example, not too long after Ike was promoted to Supreme Allied Commander, several of his generals made clear that Ike's strategic skills in battleground planning left something to be desired. Apparently, his strengths were most obvious in dealing with all the heads of state and others, e.g. Churchill, Stalin, FDR, DeGaulle, ensuring their total support and dealing with their 'suggestions', all critical to a truly allied front. I particularly admired Ike for his leadership, his honesty, his unwillingness to pass the buck, his decisiveness, and his total commitment - and Smith gives countless examples of all of these strengths throughout the book.
The book was very readable, the pages seemed to fly by. Even the footnotes were interesting. In the paperback edition which I read, there were many photos, perhaps 1 every 15 pages or so instead of the typical gallery bound together in the middle of a book. Well done ! There are two areas that I wish were different and that diminished the book somewhat for me. I thought too much attention was paid to the Kay Summersby affair.. I was stunned and fascinated by what I read, but there were also times when I felt like I was eavesdropping. Summersby wrote two books about her time with Ike. I highly recommend "Past Forgetting", her second book; it is very charming and I feel it could be read as a companion to Smith's book. By the way, Smith refers to information in Kay's book a number of times.Secondly I wish about 50-100 pages of the WWII pages could have shrunk, as interesting as they were, to allow for more pages on his presidency. Needless to say, I recommend this book highly and without reservation.
Through his youth, his army career, his involvement with MacAurthor, FDR, WW2, the presidency, Little Rock, the Suez crisis, his even political manners and his utter truthfulness, as well as in his final post-presidential years, this book recapitulates an entire lifetime of military and civilian service, a biography not to be missed by anyone interested in the history of the century past, or of the presidency.