Monday, February 27, 2012

Ike gets a makeover

Eisenhower appears to be the latest president under reconsideration for his achievements, although Ike has generally been held in high regard by historians for his bipartisanship and "hidden hand" approach.  I think most presidential polls by historians have him in the Top Ten.  Nevertheless, Jean Edward Smith feels compelled to remind us what a good president Dwight Eisenhower was in his new book, Eisenhower in War and Peace,

In recent years, the “I Like Ike” sentiment has gained momentum with biographers and historians, among them Michael Korda, Jim Newton, and now, Jean Edward Smith with his new biography of Eisenhower. Much as he did with his 2007 doorstop biography of FDR, in Eisenhower in War and Peace Smith sifts through mountains of earlier appraisals, anecdotes, and historical documents and synthesizes the information into a crisply written and meticulous analysis of Eisenhower.

It is a much taller order rescuing U.S. Grant from the bottom of the presidential barrel, which Smith tried to do in Grant. 


  1. I would be open to reading this one (I have it on my request list -- I reenlisted as a judge).

    Newton talked about Eisenhower in Los Angeles last year. Eisenhower's ideas about even basic civil rights were appalling but he believed in following orders and did that. But he also had many good things to say about Ike. I sometimes wonder if it takes a republican (or a Johnson -- sort of the same thing) to get some of these big spending bills like the highway act and the education initiatives through. Sort of the Nixon to China phenomena.

    And thanks for noting Smith is a man. For some reason all these years I thought he was a she.

  2. I'd be up for Ike. I have his biography in the Schlesinger presidential series, which I believe Brand is now editor-in-chief. He is the only Republican president since TR that I can relate to. Not that Ike was in any way progressive, but at least he wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool conservative.

    I was surprised to see Smith take on Grant. I would think he focused on his pre-presidential days in the biography, as Grant's administration was racked with scandals. He is definitely bottom of the presidential barrel.

  3. That would be fun -- maybe we can all read different versions. May take me awhile to get the Smith bio, but I'll work it. I also read this one last year. Not a great book, but interesting case study on something I didn't know much about:

  4. Ike does seem like a good read and I'm sure it is a decent choice for a group read.

    Well, I finally got a copy of "Fruitlands" by Richard Francis. Took a long time to get it. Hopefully, it will be worth the long wait.

    As for that book on Roger William, it's still not in either of our two library systems so I can't read it for now. Also, I'm just finishing up Chris Bohjalian's "The Double Bend". This is defo a good fictional read.

  5. I'm in! Depending on what happens in the next couple weeks, I may also be reading the Newton bio.

  6. ... but I can read Ike, although I will probably go with the book I already have.