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View Full Version : U.S. Issues Ike; An American Hero- Book Review


Sully
12-01-2009, 07:10 PM
I mentioned several weeks ago in the "High Brow" thread that I had been reading this book. I just finished today. I realized over the past year or so, I know little to nothing about Eisenhower, and wanted to read more about him. I wanted something that went more into his presidency, and this book didn't focus a ton on that, but what it had about it was interesting.
It covered his entire life, from birth, to schooling, to West Point, to a lot of his life pre-WWII, to how he ran the war. I'll just say it was a great book. I couldn't wait to pick it up again every time I put it down. The guy who wrote it, Korda, did tons of research, reading what he wrote himself, to what other world leaders and acquaintances wrote about him, to the public record. There were a ton of interesting points in the book, and I'll post a few... but I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in World History.

Sully
12-01-2009, 07:26 PM
Some points I thought were interesting...

- In reading about his life, it was kind of cool how he basically "lucked" into West Point. Obviously he had the brains to pass the entry test, but the fact he was taking it at all was kind of a joke.

- His fairly public affair prior to and during WWII with his driver would've killed the political prospects of anyone nowadays.

- I found an interesting, but ultimately non-helpful parallel between the time after the Allies pushed the Nazis out of Sicily, basically ending Mussolini's reign, and putting the people of Italy in between the Nazis/Pro Nazis among them and the Allies who were arriving with some of the situations in the Middle East. The Italian leadership was afraid of both sides. If the sided with the Allies, the Nazis already within their borders could destroy them and burn the country, but many of them also knew backing the Nazis was to back the wrong side. They really had to play both sides of it in order to protect themselves.

- In is time running the war, from Africa to France, Ike wasn't at all concerned about machismo, egos, or "looking strong." He benched his good friend Patton for a time, he dealt with Montgomery, who he strongly disliked, and in his dealing with exiled French leadership he yielded to what was best for the world (as he believed that was ultimately what was best for Americans) rather than try to strongarm purely American ideals into place.

- There was an interesting contrast between he, MacArthur, and Patton. I think often that Patton and MacArthur are seen as the larger than life macho figures, while Ike was seen as the quiet smart guy, and that is due largely to publicity created by the previous two. But it's also interesting that Ike truly did build himself from nothing, while the other two came from well-off families which helped them rise through the ranks.

- MacArthur comes off as a paranoid crazyman in this book. A real crybaby.
- Patton comes off as a great leader, but a pitbull that needed to be leashed in most cases, for the good of the war.
- Montgomery comes off like an asshole.

- It's clear in Ike's presidency that he didn't believe in meddling much in small conflicts (Korea, Vietnam, Middle East). But he believed that if we were to get involved, then we send overwhelming force, have clear benchmarks (and an exit strategy) and then leave the Generals alone.

- In talking with some older relatives before reading the book about their thoughts on Ike's presidency, all I really got from them was "Well, he played a lot of golf." I think that it because he wasn't very public in all his actions (something a president today could never get away with). But I was surprised to learn that he was much more of a micromanager than most think. For instance, he approved U2s flying over the Soviet Union, and demanded to be briefed in detail on each series of missions. When one was shot down, he took full responsibility.

HonestChieffan
12-01-2009, 07:28 PM
I'd also toss in "An Army at Dawn" and "The Day of Battle", both by Rick Atkinson. Excellent books very detailed and well written. The first covers the entry by the allies with the US into North Africa, the second documents the Italian campaign. He has a third in the works but supposedly not to be out till 2012.

I'll get the Ike book as we are doing a two week battlefield and historical seminar trip next year through Germany and France.