Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Eisenhower Years


I’ve finished 3 books on President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mandate for Change and  Waging Peace are Ike’s memoirs of his first and second Presidential terms, respectively.  Going Home to Glory is the story of Ike’s final eight years of life, as told by his grandson David Eisenhower, along with his wife Julie Nixon Eisenhower. 


The two White House memoirs are very dry and told in a strictly factual, unemotional fashion. I still adored them, and finished with a great appreciation for a President overshadowed by the unwarranted adoration for his successor (JFK). Kennedy and his supporters campaigned on the idea that the Eisenhower era was stagnant and parochial, an erroneous assertion that survives to this day.  The truth is far different.



Here was a President who kept the peace in the face of near constant Soviet and Chinese provocation, while simultaneously expanding the ring of ‘containment’ that would eventually break the USSR;  a President who balanced the budget multiple times, at times refusing to cut taxes to do so, and led America to unparalleled prosperity ; a President who included women in his Cabinet and sent federal troops in to desegregate Little Rock schools; a President who warned that any dollar spent on defense above the level of military adequacy was a dollar misspent, and had the military reputation to enforce that doctrine; a President who refused to intervene in Vietnam barring a coalition effort; a President convinced that aiding Latin America and Africa was not only moral but a means of fighting the Cold War; a President who valued bipartisanship and the UN, advocated for a “United States of Europe”, and expanded the reach of social security; but also a President who believed in self-determination, the value of duty, limited Federal intervention, free markets and the moral greatness of America.

His Presidency deserves a second look.

Their contents deserve an A, but given the dull style I can only grade these two a B.


Going Home to Glory begins with the conclusion of his administration and ends with his death in 1969. book is the opposite of his Grandfather’s stylistically; it is warm and endearing and a joy to read. Grade: A.
Also read so far this year: Belles on their Toes by Frank B Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey



 and The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman.


I’d rate the former a B- and the latter a well served A. 

6 comments:

Donna said...

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Eisenhower. When he was in office, I always felt like Grandpa was in charge. I was a kid. What did I know?

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