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Eisenhower: The White House Years

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  • Sales Rank:821,224
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  • Languages:English (Unknown), English (Published)
  • Media:Hardcover
  • Number Of Items:1
  • Pages:464
  • Shipping Weight (lbs):1.8
  • Dimensions (in):9.3 x 6.2 x 1.6
  • Publication Date:October 4, 2011
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Editorial Reviews:
“Newton's contribution is as cogent an inventory of Eisenhower's White House years as I've ever read. He blends masterful writing with historic detail and provides the value-added of Ike as the man and the leader.”
—Chuck Hagel, Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University; U.S. Senator (19972009)

Newly discovered and declassified documents make for a surprising and revealing portrait of the president we thought we knew.

America’s thirty-fourth president was belittled by his critics as the babysitter-in-chief. This new look reveals how wrong they were. Dwight Eisenhower was bequeathed the atomic bomb and refused to use it. He ground down Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism until both became, as he said, "McCarthywasm." He stimulated the economy to lift it from recession, built an interstate highway system, turned an $8 billion deficit in 1953 into a $500 million surplus in 1960. (Ike was the last President until Bill Clinton to leave his country in the black.)

The President Eisenhower of popular imagination is a benign figure, armed with a putter, a winning smile, and little else. The Eisenhower of veteran journalist Jim Newton's rendering is shrewd, sentimental, and tempestuous. He mourned the death of his first son and doted on his grandchildren but could, one aide recalled, "peel the varnish off a desk" with his temper. Mocked as shallow and inarticulate, he was in fact a meticulous manager. Admired as a general, he was a champion of peace. In Korea and Vietnam, in Quemoy and Berlin, his generals urged him to wage nuclear war. Time and again he considered the idea and rejected it. And it was Eisenhower who appointed the liberal justices Earl Warren and William Brennan and who then called in the military to enforce desegregation in the schools.

Rare interviews, newly discovered records, and fresh insights undergird this gripping and timely narrative.

JIM NEWTON is a veteran journalist who began his career as clerk to James Reston at the New York Times. Since then, he has worked as a reporter at the Atlanta Constitution and as a reporter, bureau chief and editor at the Los Angeles Times, where he presently is the editor-at-large and author of a weekly column. He also is an educator and author, whose acclaimed biography of Chief Justice Earl Warren, Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made, was published in 2006. He lives in Pasadena, CA. Review

A Letter from Author Jim Newton

When I set out to write Eisenhower: The White House Years, Dwight D. Eisenhower had to win me over. That’s because my initial view of him was through the eyes of my previous subject, the late Chief Justice Earl Warren. Although Ike appointed Warren, it seemed to the chief justice, as it did to many Americans, that Ike was a benign but disengaged leader, unmoved by the call for civil rights, content to let the nation float on a tide of peaceful prosperity.

So even though my editor, the great Phyllis Grann, was persuaded that Ike would stand up to hard scrutiny, I had my doubts. It was with that ambivalence that, in early 2007, I arrived in Abilene, Kansas, home of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, unsure where immersion in Eisenhower’s presidential legacy would lead.

There, in Ike’s hometown, surrounded by his voluminous papers, I came around. For what those papers capture is a blend of military acumen, diplomatic subtlety and presidential leadership rivaled in American history only by George Washington.

John Eisenhower, Ike’s perceptive son, crisply described his father to me one morning in 2010. “My dad,” he said, “was not a social reformer. He was a commander-in-chief.” Indeed, he was. Shrewd and patient, moderate and confident, Ike guided America through some of the most treacherous moments of the Cold War. He was urged to take advantage of America’s military advantage in those early years – to finish the Korean War with nuclear weapons, to repel Chinese aggression against Taiwan, to repulse the Soviets in Berlin, to rescue the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu. Eisenhower was not complacent--he authorized the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala and welcomed the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg--but nor was he reckless or unhinged.

Eisenhower was a terrific poker player, and he played his cards carefully, mindful of the stakes: After ending the Korean War early in his presidency, Eisenhower jousted with the Soviets and Chinese in conflicts across the globe. During those many confrontations across more than seven years, just one American died in combat. That respite brought profound rewards. Eisenhower believed that time favored America in the Cold War, that the West would prevail by virtue of its values. He adamantly rejected Joe McCarthy’s hysterical assault on American civil liberties and helped bring an end to McCarthyism (“McCarthywasm,” as Ike joked).

Ike’s leadership is thoroughly vindicated by time. His willingness to appoint and defer to capable subordinates allowed his civil rights record (highlighted by the appointments of Warren and Justice William Brennan, passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act and the intervention in Little Rock) to exceed his instincts; his determination to build created the highway system and the St. Lawrence Seaway; his warning of the “military industrial complex” only grows more meaningful with experience. And his fixed pursuit of an unyielding and yet restrained response to communism not only lit the way for victory in the Cold War but also suggests a course for today’s leaders confronted with the challenges of terrorism.

It is a legacy of principled moderation and commitment to progress--one worthy of appreciation at a time when those virtues are in perilously short supply.

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