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Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage Audible – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeffrey Frank's new book, "Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage", is one of those great books that examines the personalities and events that can make a small part of history so important. Frank does an excellent job at looking at Eisenhower and Nixon - the "good copy/bad cop" of the 1950's and their tangled relationship.

If Dwight Eisenhower was the popular choice of the Republican Party, and then the country's voters in 1952, his running mate, Richard Nixon, was not. Eisenhower, drafted into public life through his war record, was not of a political bent. In fact, his allegiance to one of the two parties was in doubt until he declared he was a Republican in the early 1950's. He didn't care for politicians and never quite trusted them. And Richard Nixon, former congressman elected to the US Senate in 1950 in a particularly dirty race against Helen Gahagan Douglas, was a consummate politician. A 20th century Machievelli, so to speak, without any personal charm. Nixon was well aware of his own limitations. In 1952, various Republican advisers pitched Nixon to Eisenhower as his best choice of a running mate; Nixon was brought on to shore up the right side of the Republican ticket. But Eisenhower and Nixon had a difficult relationship from the campaign on through to their eight years in office. When scandal threatened Nixon's place on the ticket in 1952, Eisenhower stepped back and let Nixon face the public with his famous "Checkers" speech. In 1956, Eisenhower let Nixon dangle before welcoming him back on the ticket. The two men were not personally close and the Nixons, for instance, were never invited to the Eisenhowers' personal residence at the White House.

What did Eisenhower get from having Nixon as his vice-president for eight years?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeff Frank's examination of this remarkable political pairing is brilliant. He tells the story of their relationship, and he does it with such detail and skill that you think you're actually there. It's not meant to be a comprehensive treatise of the two presidencies, but in a way it's much more. Frank takes you inside the Nixon and Eisenhower homes, inside the real smoke-filled rooms (Ike peaked out at almost three packs a day) and even inside the hospital rooms. There's a ton of new detail and vignettes, including an indelible image of Ike recovering from his stroke and slamming his fists into the bed as he tried to reach for the word "thermostat.'" And there's a lot more. Be sure to watch out, near the end, where Frank challenges the one-dimensional view of Nixon with surprising evidence of his human side. I hated for it to end.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Nixon was first elected to Congress in 1948. By 1952, he'd made a name for himself as a hard-working, well-prepared, anti-Communist member of the House Unamerican Activities Committee; and been elected to the U.S. Senate after a vicious campaign that earned him the moniker "Tricky Dick", with which he would be associated for the rest of his life. Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower had recently returned from World War II where, as Supreme Allied Commander, he became a war hero to the American people. Both political parties had recruited him to run for President, but he chose to run as a Republican. Ike and Dick had met each other a couple of times, but did not know each other well, and Ike apparently selected Nixon to be his running mate on the recommendation of his advisors. "Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage" addresses the relationship between the two men from 1952, until Eisenhower's death in 1969. Most of the book focuses on the years from 1952 to 1960, when Ike left office and John Kennedy defeated Nixon for President. Author Jeffry Frank attempts to represent a dynamic in which an insecure, but bright, Richard Nixon continually seeks to win the approval of a powerful, but distant, older man (Ike) who consistently fails to give him the approval he craves. I think the premise is interesting, and certainly anyone who followed Watergate a few years later can accept that Richard Nixon had significant insecurity issues. It is Eisenhower's role I had trouble buying.

This book is really about Richard Nixon. Eisenhower is never developed as a character beyond the extent Frank needs to support his point that he was "cold, aloof, and secretive".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is overall an entertaining book, in large part a fascinating reflection on two different people who had to work together at the highest level. The book is most interesting and revealing in the years in which Ike and Dick were formally connected, which was Ike's term as President. The personality of Eisenhower is most revealing during this time, especially the way in which he treated Nixon. And, it brings out Nixon's insecurities and struggle for attention and responsibility. The less interesting phase is Nixon's Presidency and the campaign leading up to it. The author stretches to fill in the relationship a bit by elaborating on Ike's health problems,and subsequently, a somewhat boring account of David and Julie. The two are discreet people who simply are not interesting, and its seems the author had to build this in to extend the Ike and Dick relation even though it was less a relevant one compared the RN's Vice-Presidential years. Regardless of how you feel about Nixon, the book's section on his Vice-Presidency paints a fascinating portrait of the man, how he developed as more than a Red-baiter and took on substantive policy responsibilities. And, he did so in the strange environment of Ike, who seldom sent messages of confidence, and frequently did the opposite. At certain stages, it was as if Nixon was just surviving the moment in the face of Ike's treatment of him. All of this made Nixon a much tougher guy, as he slowly developed something in the way of support from the General.
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