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Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World Hardcover – September 25, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 320 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for IKE'S BLUFF:

"With grace, insight, and originality, Evan Thomas has written a brilliant and engaging book about the most important of subjects: how close we came to Armageddon in the seemingly placid 1950s. Thomas's Eisenhower is a canny savior, a president who kept the peace through feint and bluff. No one writes more astutely or more honestly than Evan Thomas. This is the work of a master of storytelling at his best."―Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

"[Thomas's] detailed, engaging pictures of Eisenhower's personality bring him vividly to life. Most important, by the end of the book Thomas has made his case that Dwight Eisenhower's 'greatest victories were the wars he did not fight.' "―New York Times Book Review

"Evan Thomas has written an insightful and penetrating study of my father, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dad was a hard man to know; he played it close to the chest. So despite my extensive exposure to him throughout forty six years, I still found myself learning new aspects, some of which, I must admit, are a bit painful. But the balance that Thomas achieves between Eisenhower the public servant and Eisenhower the man is, in my opinion, as close to the mark as we are likely to see."―John Eisenhower

"Evan Thomas's profoundly important book shows how the card-playing general who did as much as anyone to win World War II became the president most adroit at preserving peace. Behind his open smile, Eisenhower was a secretive and subtle leader with quiet moral courage. By projecting confidence while keeping his intentions concealed, he became the model of a nuclear-age peacekeeper. Thomas has produced a fascinating history that is also a brilliant guide to great leadership."―Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

"A bustling, anecdotal book with a high-concept premise. [Thomas] approaches the ever more changeable Eisenhower legacy with new and intriguing questions."―Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Well-researched and highly readable...Thomas' account is sure to appeal to older readers who can recall the mandatory duck-and-cover drills in the classroom and to others with an interest in a fascinating and pivotal period when the nation was in better hands than many at the time probably realized."―The Associated Press

"[Thomas is] a five-star biographer who blows apart that image [of Ike as a bumbling old man] with devastating detail."―Vanity Fair

"A thoroughly researched, tightly organized and briskly written biography...Thomas is especially skilled at bringing characters of the era to life..."―James Ledbetter, Washington Post

"Dwight Eisenhower was a great general and President because he was a great leader, and Ike's Bluff uncracks the code. Evan Thomas's original and fascinating book is an immersion in the Eisenhower School of Leadership, with lessons not only for Presidents and military officers but leaders in other arenas of American life operating in moments of both tranquility and rapid change. Especially in these times, Thomas's book is an essential reminder that strong leadership can be exercised with kindness, morality and respect for opponents."―Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors

"Thomas has written a book that elucidates Eisenhower's wisdom for general readers."―Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Highly absorbing."―Tom Alderman, Huffington Post

"An imaginative, approachable volume that may well accelerate Eisenhower's slow but seemingly inexorable movement toward presidential greatness. Evan Thomas is right. The greatest victories of the man who helped win World War II were 'the wars he did not fight."―Boston Globe

"An enjoyable book, fast-moving and packed with anecdotes."―Los Angeles Times

"Engaging and insightful...Thomas' treatment is valuable...for the verve of its telling and convenience of bringing disparate and specialized sources together."―National Interest

"Incisive and direct...Evan Thomas brings considerable rhetorical power to his examination of the Eisenhower presidency."―Dallas Morning News

"Works such as Ike's Bluff are encouraging historians and the media to take a closer and more objective look at Dwight D. Eisenhower."―Washington Times

"[Thomas] is doing [for Eisenhower] what David McCullough did for John Adams."―Chris Matthews on Hardball

"When the stakes for America and the world were highest, Eisenhower played a winning hand. So, too, does his latest biographer."―Eric Spanberg, Christian Science Monitor

"Ike's Bluff is a testimony to the need for national leaders who place the nation above self...The book should be required reading for every member of Congress and the president as well."―Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

"Historian and journalist Evan Thomas argues convincingly that keeping the United States out of war is a chief reason [Ike's reputation is on the rise]."―Timothy J. Lockhart, Virginian-Pilot

About the Author

Evan Thomas is the author of several bestselling works of history and biography, including The War Lovers and Sea of Thunder. He was a writer and editor at Time and Newsweek for more than 30 years, and he is frequently a commentator on television and radio. He teaches at Princeton University and lives in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316091049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316091046
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a historian who has done research on Eisenhower, and as an admirer of the General/President, I have been waiting with great anticipation for Evan Thomas' book. I have had my copy since Tuesday, and have been reading it every spare moment I can get since I acquired it.

I agree with Thomas' overall thesis of the book, which is that Eisenhower was long overlooked as a President. Historians like Arthur Schlesinger and others from his generation wrote off Ike as the bubble-head who played golf for eight years as President. Therefore, any book that shows the falsehood of that assessment and presents a more accurate picture of Eisenhower's presidency is welcome.

In terms of Thomas' scholarship on Eisenhower and his thesis on Ike's presidency, the author does not really present anything new in his narrative. The assessment of Eisenhower as a cunning and insightful President who staved off war with the communist block was one that was already successfully pioneered by both Stephen Ambrose and Fred Greenstein back in the 1980's. The work of those two authors (Ambrose's Eisenhower-the President and Greenstein's Hidden Hand Presidency) started the modern age of scholarship on Eisenhower. That work has continued to produce work on Eisenhower's presidency. In recent years, new work from Jean Edward Smith and Jim Newton have also continued to support Ike's importance as a president. Therefore, if you are already someone who is well read on Eisenhower, you are not going to find much that is new on his presidency with Thomas' work.

That being said, this fact should not detract too much from Thomas' work on its own merit. Thomas' narrative is well composed, well researched, and an example of great historical storytelling at its finest.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book on Eisenhower during his presidency. Evan Thomas gives an excellent narrative, and it reads so well that there are times that you resent the call to dinner and are reluctant to put the book down.

A most recent biography Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith continued my interest in Eisenhower and thus, the purchase of this book. Even after reading the story, it is still hard to define this man. You would think that the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe would have been a hard lined supporter of a strong military, but Ike was everything but that. He knew the high cost of the military, and during his presidency he worried about the smoke and mirrors that the Pentagon and their scores of generals were constantly using to promote more and improved weaponry. Ike had seen it all, and he saw it in terms that the average man could understand, for example in translating the cost of a destroyer versus the social benefits that could be attained with the same money for schools, hospitals, etc., and he was the one who warned of the military industrial complex. He simply mistrusted the people that he knew the best through decades of service to his country.

As his son once said, that in forty six years of knowing him, there were things that he still did not know about hsi father, as he held his cards close to his chest. Eisenhower during his career was careful of his friends and I got the impression that he trusted no one, maybe with the exception of his family.

His greatest challenge during his years in office was the recognition of the new technology that resulted in the capacity to wage atomic (or nuclear) war.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone who grew up in the 1950s remembers the stereotype of Ike as a Mr. Bluster-esque fuddy-duddy, inevitably compared unfavorably with the youthful New Frontiersmen of JFK's presidency. How wrong this is! The great strength of Evan Thomas's reporting on Ike is that we see him here not only as the leader of the Free World (a title he earned the hard way during World War II) and a judicious statesman -- but as a genuine human being, with anger, passions, and profound wisdom -- displayed with the likes of Churchill and Krushchev but also with his own family (human but not always endearingly). We see him jousting with the cowboys in the CIA and throwing a golf club at his doctor. Thomas has made wonderful use of the intimate diaries and papers of his secretary, his doctor, and the Dulles brothers (themselves fascinating cases) -- as well as revealing interviews with his children -- to create the best portrait we have of Eisenhower, the man who made some of the wisest and most difficult decisions of the 20th century. Thomas's book advances the revisionist scholarship on Eisenhower to give us a fully realized portrait of a man who was up to the demands of the job -- something we wish could be said for more Presidents.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Summary Thoughts

1. Inspirational book on accountability in decision making
2. Sharp contrast to the broken #PoliticalClass concepts of leadership in America today
3. "His greatest victories were the wars he did not fight" -Evan Thomas #indeed

Content Highlights

1. "Eisenhower was the first President to use TV as a bully pulpit, but he was not particularly good at it" (pg 16) #authenticity
2. "The people, judging from Eisenshower's high poll ratings, believed that he had sound judgment" (pg 16)
3. "too many cups of coffee, smoked too many cigarettes, slept badly, and worried far too much." (pg 18) #accountability
4. "He knew that he had a gift: the power to make people - indeed, whole peoples - trust him" (pg 28) #trust
5. "His firstborn child... "Icky", died of scarlet fever in 1921... and he never really recovered from the loss" (pg 30) like #Jefferson
6. "Eisenhower had grown up poor in Abilene, Kansas" (pg 33) #perspective
7. "President Eisenhower's day usually proceeded with the precision of a military band." (pg 43) very #process/routine oriented
8. "Let's not make our mistakes in a hurry" was one of his standard sayings." (pg 45) very #patient, risk manager of a man
9. "Never get in a pissing match with the skunk" (pg 57) to his brother Milton about #McCarthy
10. "What we found was the result of seven years of yapping was exactly zero. We have no plan." (pg 59) Ike on #Stalin's death

11. "Miss America contestants were asked to state their opinion of Karl Marx" (pg 69) #1950 zeitgeist in America during Korean War
12. "More significant was the death of Stalin, the leader most responsible for the conflict" (pg 81) good chapter contextualizing Korea
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