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Ike: An American Hero Hardcover – August 21, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Characterizing Dwight Eisenhower as an American with a big grin and long-limbed, loose American way of walking, this smitten biography demonstrates his heroism by dwelling on his World War II record as commander of Allied armies in Europe. Korda (Ulysses S. Grant) defends the people's general against criticisms leveled by subordinates and historians (Eisenhower's presidency flits by in an admiring 64 pages), but for all his fulsome comparisons of Eisenhower to Napoleon and Grant, the author's case is weak. Korda's approving gloss on Ike's broad front approach—directing all the Allied armies to engage the enemy at every point... until superior numbers inevitably ground the Germans down because he did not think a single, clever stroke would do it—makes Eisenhower sound like a terrible strategist. At best, Ike comes off as a competent diplomat-in-arms, enabling egomaniacs like Churchill, De Gaulle, Montgomery and Patton to cooperate, and soothing wife Mamie's anxieties over his glamorous secretary. Unfortunately, Eisenhower's self-effacing affability in this role means his story is usually upstaged by the colorful prima donnas around him. A more critical analysis might have made for a more interesting biography. Photos. (Aug. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Citing David McCullough's biographies of Truman and MacArthur, Michael Korda claims that "a reputation can be revised by a single great book," and he seeks to do just that in Ike. Korda treads no new ground; instead, he gathers his information from previously published sources. In place of originality, reviewers commended his engaging, accessible style. Some were annoyed by Korda's lack of objectivity and the short shrift he gives to Eisenhower's presidential years (fewer than 100 pages), but they generally agreed that Ike is a stirring portrait of a truly inspiring man. "Academics may dismiss Ike: An American Hero as popular history, but most others will read with pleasure a great American story, well told" (Wall Street Journal).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060756659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060756659
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book for the first time, I was excited (as always) when a new Eisenhower book comes out. He is my favorite historical personality to study, and was even a central figure in my Thesis when I completed my Masters Degree in History. However, once I looked at the book, my disappointment began to develop almost from the start.

The book jacket's description would lead you to believe that this would be a comprehensive biography, but one need only look at the Table of Contents to figure out it is not. Instead, Korda's book joins the long list of books to focus on Eisenhower's role in the military and in World War II, but only glosses over his two terms as President of the United States. In doing so, Korda actually contradicts one of his own stated thesis points on Ike, i.e. that he was one of our greatest Presidents. If, as Korda says, he was one of our greatest Presidents, why does he only spend all of one and a half chapters on his presidency? Ridiculous!

Eisenhower was an extremely important President, and one overlooked for too long until Greenstein and Ambrose resurrected him from the depths of the Presidential rankings in the 1980's. Sadly, Korda's work adds next to nothing to the growing body of historical work on Eisenhower's presidency.

But, still interested in reading what Korda had to say on Eisenhower, I bought the book and read it. The one positive thing I have to say about it is that it is a flowing, easy, enjoyable read, and I mostly agreed with Korda's thesis points on Ike's military career.

But in reality, Korda adds almost nothing new or important to the historical work on Ike's military career either.
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Format: Hardcover
Although this is a long book, it is also a quick read due in no small part to the author's crisp writing style, which holds the reader's interest. This is a very engaging biography of a great American general.

The best part of this book is its beginning. The author immediately puts the subject matter of this biography in context by pointing out that "heros" are really not part of the American culture, and generally those who experience acclaim in their lifetimes are later the subject of criticism and revisionism. Thus US Grant had a drinking problem, Lincoln did not free the slaves as quickly or as completely as he ought, etc. Thus it is with Eisenhower as well. While "Ike" received adulation in his lifetime for leading the Western armies to victory against Germany, revisionists have been at him ever since criticizing his "broad front" strategy against Germany, his alleged "hands off" leadership style as both General and President, etc. The famous "Eisenhower grin" is taken by revisionists as nothing more than evidence that Ike was a shallow chap who made it to the top by virtue of a pleasant personality. Nothing, the author points out, was more predictable than that this type of revisionism would occur.

This biography makes the case that Eisenhower was in fact a remarkable man with numerous gifts including intelligence, integrity, and the ability to gain the confidence of superiors by his exercise of these traits. One also discerns that Eisenhower had the ability to see through detail to find and solve the main component of a problem.

This biography makes it plain that Eisenhower was identified by several powerful Army generals fairly early in his career, as someone destined for high rank and great responsibility.
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Format: Hardcover
The first 1/3 of the book is spent on the first 45 years or so of Ike's life, which is remarkable for its dullness. He really did nothing of note or of interest until WW2. Then, most of the rest of the book is dedicated to war-years (which is already well-trodden ground). Relatively little space is dedicated to his two terms as President, which I find appalling. Four years at war get almost 500 pages but 8 years as leader of the most powerful country in the history of the world get maybe 50? A very imbalanced treatment, IMO, and very disappointing.

On a lesser note: the habit of the author to drop (un-translated) French and German phrases is pretentious and annoying. The author also makes a few attempts to dabble in psycho-history, which I've never been able to take seriously. Aside from these minor points, the writing is o.k.

I'm sure one wouldn't have to work very hard to find a better treatment of Eisenhower and his work.

Not terrible but not recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Ike: An American Hero is a decent treatment of Dwight D. Eisenhower's life, but it pales in comparison to the biographies written by Stephen Ambrose and Carlo D'Este. Korda relied almost exclusively on secondary works for his research, as his endnotes and bibliography indicate; to include Ambrose's and D'Este's books. He acknowledges his debt to previous writers, especially D'Este, but the lack of emphasis on primary research means there is little in Korda's book that is new to students of Eisenhower, World War Two, or the American presidency. Additionally, Korda perpetuates some minor errors regarding Ike's early career that other authors such as Mark C. Bender have taken pains to correct. These weaknesses combine to keep Ike: An American Hero from being a much better book.

Korda compensates for these problems by writing in a lucid style that evidences a strong regard for his subject. He succeeds in keeping the reader engaged in the story of Eisenhower's life, and is at his best when discussing World War II and Ike's relationships with senior officers such as Patton and Montgomery.

Overall, this is a good book, but not a great one. I recommend for the quality of Korda's writing rather than the depth of his research and analysis.
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