The Age of Eisenhower
An original and penetrating assessment of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, showing Ike’s enormous influence on modern America, the Cold War, and on the presidency itself.In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. Historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times. A former general, Ike kept the peace: he ended the Korean War, avoided a war in Vietnam, adroitly managed a potential confrontation with China, and soothed relations with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. He guided the Republican Party to embrace central aspects of the New Deal like Social Security. He thwarted the demagoguery of McCarthy and he advanced the agenda of civil rights for African Americans. As part of his strategy to wage, and win, the Cold War, Eisenhower expanded American military power, built a fearsome nuclear arsenal and launched the space race. In his famous Farewell Address, he acknowledged that Americans needed such weapons in order to keep global peace—but he also admonished his citizens to remain alert to the potentially harmful influence of the “military-industrial complex.” From 1953 to 1961 no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA and Defense Department, and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower’s close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this “do-nothing” president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had.

The Age of Eisenhower Details

TitleThe Age of Eisenhower
Author
ReleaseMar 20th, 2018
PublisherSimon Schuster
ISBN-139781439175668
Rating
GenreHistory, Biography, Nonfiction, Politics, North American Hi..., American History, Presidents

The Age of Eisenhower Review

  • ALLEN
    January 1, 1970
    In my opinion this biography is the right thing at the right time, and a joy to read. Unlike other popular biographies, William I. Hitchcock's The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s does not linger on Ike's upbringing and military service: indeed, a mere 46 pages of text take us up to his 60th birth year, when he's retired from the Army, President of Columbia University, and seriously mulling running for President on the Republican ticket in 1952. Ike's candidacy and two admin In my opinion this biography is the right thing at the right time, and a joy to read. Unlike other popular biographies, William I. Hitchcock's The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s does not linger on Ike's upbringing and military service: indeed, a mere 46 pages of text take us up to his 60th birth year, when he's retired from the Army, President of Columbia University, and seriously mulling running for President on the Republican ticket in 1952. Ike's candidacy and two administrations -- and John F. Kennedy's ensuing debt to Eisenhower, for good and bad, in foreign and domestic policy -- occupy the rest of the book. I count it a plus that Ike's pretty English chauffeur, Kay Summersby, rates only a brief mention here and is not subject to the "Did they or didn't they" dithering of some earlier womb-to-tomb bios.Author Hitchcock, aided by recent research and declassifications, gets into areas of Ike's two presidential terms that are usually covered only sketchily in other mainstream biographies: I was especially impressed by his handling of the Emmett Till case in the context of domestic race relations, and the details given to two CIA-inspired (and Eisenhower-approved) military overthrows of democratic, civilian governments in 1953 in Guatemala and Iran, the two heads of state overthrown being thought too "pink" for CIA tastes. While the author is clearly in tune with Ike's moderation, his so-called "Modern Republicanism," he does deplore the extent to which the President equipped the new CIA, put John Foster Dulles' brilliant but erratic brother Allan at the top, and maintained a policy of "plausible deniability" when the CIA shifted into regime change. In effect, "The Agency" quickly became a subtle and insidious "Covert War Department" virtually free from Congressional control. It is with more sympathy that the author views the foreign-policy irony of Eisenhower's second term: the aging President was partly the victim of his own success, making his foreign-policy efforts look so effortless, when with half-a-century's hindsight they clearly weren't. Ike's cleverness in maintaining an anti-Communist tone while avoiding armed conflict, compounded by his celebrated ability to make the very difficult look easy, set up some easy carping from the Democrats that led straight to the 1960 Presidential election. In 1958 Senator John F. Kennedy, making hay of the periodic flap of two small Taiwanese islands near the Chinese mainland, opined: "We have teetered on the brink of foreign wars no American wants or can explain," after which Hitchcock appends: "commented Senator Kennedy, a future architect of America's war in Vietnam." In the spring of 1960, when Francis Gary Power's covert U-2 surveillance flight over the U.S.S.R. was shot down, two different agencies in Ike's administration lied about it using two different -- and incompatible -- cover stories. This did not guarantee Kennedy's presidential win over Richard Nixon later that year, but it did add credence to the notion that fresh blood was needed in the White House. I think that THE AGE OF EISENHOWER is going to be the go-to in modern one-volume history of Eisenhower's Presidency for some time to come. While not afraid to sound Ike out on the missteps, Hitchcock establishes very well Eisenhower's considerable achievements (not least of them keeping the USA out of major wars) -- and effectively rebutting the lingering charge that Ike stared down the "green fairways of indifference" during his two terms. This book doesn't exactly crackle with humor, but Hitchcock does bring to his skillful and adroit narrative a hawk eye for irony, and knows how to integrate reminiscence and anecdote without distracting from the main course of events. It is true that Hitchcock fast-forwards over the first 60 years of the soldier/statesman's life, but we already have Jean Edward Smith's well-wrought EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE (2013), which is an excellent foundation for the youth and military career of "DDE." After reading this well researched and often brilliantly incisive volume, most readers will surely agree with William Hitchcock's conclusion that: Americans viewed Eisenhower as a legendary hero even before he entered politics, and his time in the White House strengthened his reputation as a man of integrity. He gave his life to public service in war and peace, and his administration was remarkably free from scandal.It is for us 21st-Century Americans to figure out what became of "Modern Republicanism," and where the virtues, such as they are, are to be found in the current GOP. .Eisenhower in War and Peace
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  • Brent
    January 1, 1970
    I really like this balanced, well-researched new biography of the Eisenhower presidency. Coverage of diplomacy and politics is top-notch. Coverage of civil rights is rich, and, like Eisenhower's own view, could be richer. But the use of archival resources is deep, especially pertaining to intelligence uncovered in recent decades.Eisenhower reminds me in many ways of my mother's father, newspaper reporter and editor Wright Bryan, who Eisenhower awarded the Medal of Freedom. This author, historian I really like this balanced, well-researched new biography of the Eisenhower presidency. Coverage of diplomacy and politics is top-notch. Coverage of civil rights is rich, and, like Eisenhower's own view, could be richer. But the use of archival resources is deep, especially pertaining to intelligence uncovered in recent decades.Eisenhower reminds me in many ways of my mother's father, newspaper reporter and editor Wright Bryan, who Eisenhower awarded the Medal of Freedom. This author, historian William Hitchcock takes the extensive literature on what we assume to be quiet, "Happy Days" and provides the context for Eisenhower's successes (armistice in Korea, middle-of-the road policies) and failures (CIA assassinations, spy planes, and hi-jinks, Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy).Highly recommended.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    Hitchcock’s biography of Eisenhower is a good blend of Eisenhower’s political and personal life, his military and his public careers though the personal takes a back seat. As is required for such a story Hitchcock’s style is fact driven which comes across as less intimate though Eisenhower’s warmth and relatability for many people insured his success. It’s easy to write him off as a popular war hero who traded on that talent to go even higher but behind his kind uncle facade he was an intelligen Hitchcock’s biography of Eisenhower is a good blend of Eisenhower’s political and personal life, his military and his public careers though the personal takes a back seat. As is required for such a story Hitchcock’s style is fact driven which comes across as less intimate though Eisenhower’s warmth and relatability for many people insured his success. It’s easy to write him off as a popular war hero who traded on that talent to go even higher but behind his kind uncle facade he was an intelligent, driven man with strong principles.The Nixon sideshow is funny (at this distance) as is the inside view of Eisenhower the general transformed himself into Eisenhower he world leader. It’s almost like he was a stealth intellectual. From his religious roots from a family of four boys in Abilene, KS Where he was taught the value of hard work and tenaciousness, lessons that would serve him throughout his life, to his average student record at West Point. He seemed to make the most of whatever he encountered and turned it into success but he never lost his humanity. It’s almost aberrant in this ego driven world to learn about a man who respected his positions rather than using them as a platform for face time.Thank you to the publisher for providing an ecopy.
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  • Casey Wheeler
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free Kindle copy of The Age of Eisenhower by William Hitchcock courtesy of Net Galley  and Simon and Schuster, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as I have read a number of biographies on American Presidents including Dwight David Eisenhower. It is the first book by Will I received a free Kindle copy of The Age of Eisenhower by William Hitchcock courtesy of Net Galley  and Simon and Schuster, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as I have read a number of biographies on American Presidents including Dwight David Eisenhower. It is the first book by William Hitchcock that I have read.The book focuses on Eisenhower and the 1950's, although it does give some additional background prior to and after that time span. The book is very researched and focuses on debunking the myth that Ike simply strolled through the years he was President by playing golf and having a laid back personality. The reality is very different as pointed out in a number of other biographies on Einsenhower. I found the author's writing style a bit dense so this biography was not quite as enjoyable a read as others I have read.I recommend this biography, especially if you have not read one on Eisenhower prior to this one, but you may want to weigh getting a copy from your local library first before considering a purchase.
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  • Melissa Dee
    January 1, 1970
    Hitchcock carefully unwraps the history of the Eisenhower administration, with a balanced attention to both its strengths and its failures.I was left agreeing with Nixon’s conclusion, that Eisenhower “was a far more complex and devious man than most people realized.” I was also powerfully impressed with this explication of his gift for organization which so well served the development of a federal bureaucracy.Eisenhower’s diary statement, “The Republican party must be known as a progressive orga Hitchcock carefully unwraps the history of the Eisenhower administration, with a balanced attention to both its strengths and its failures.I was left agreeing with Nixon’s conclusion, that Eisenhower “was a far more complex and devious man than most people realized.” I was also powerfully impressed with this explication of his gift for organization which so well served the development of a federal bureaucracy.Eisenhower’s diary statement, “The Republican party must be known as a progressive organization or it is sunk.” is interesting in light of the arc that the party took. Hard to believe this is the same Republican party that 60 years later nominated Donald Trump as its leader. I was left regretting that Eisenhower had had a vision of racial equality that went beyond the superficial, and that he had harnessed the abilities of the more than half of American citizens to who’s talents he seemed to be blind. He was a man of his era, and in his racial and gender views, he did not rise above that era.Again, I was struck by Eisenhower’s parting warning: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” That warning seems all too prescient today.
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