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Eisenhower: The White House Years [Paperback]

Jim Newton

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Book Description

2 Oct 2012
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.

Frequently Bought Together

Eisenhower: The White House Years + Eisenhower in War and Peace + FDR
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Product details

  • Paperback: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (2 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076792813X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767928137
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 410,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  55 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eisenhower: The White House Years 24 Oct 2011
By Mr. D - Published on Amazon.com
"Eisenhower" is a remarkable work. The book focuses mainly upon the years Dwight Eisenhower spent in the White House, but the scope is so much broader: Jim Newton brings Eisenhower, a man I knew precious little about, to life in these pages. Once I began reading this excellent book I could not put it down.

It's hard to imagine the amount of time and the labor it takes to produce such a fine work and have it become the perfect balance of fact, humanity, history, and introspection. There is much to learn about Eisenhower the man, and when one looks across the political horizon today, we see that he is largely without peer.

Newton's book makes it clear that Eisenhower is as relevant today as he was during his life. This is a book not to be missed -- if you lived during those White House years or you did not. I personally did not, but after reading the book I wish I had.

This book is a wonderful chronicle of Eisenhower, our country, and the world, in an incredible point in history. I highly recommend it.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good biography 16 Oct 2011
By Mr. Michael C. Morrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Eisenhower: The White House Years by Jim Newton provides an illuminating portrait of our 34th President. He provides some very interesting information, including the fact that Eisenhower was nearly court-martialed in the 1920s over a minor situation. As this would have ended his military career, one can only imagine the effect on world history. The biography also notes the tension between President Eisenhower and his brother Edgar, who felt his brother's administration was too liberal and socialist. Newton did an excellent job in chronicalling Eisenhower's health problems, including the delay by his own doctor in treating Eisenhower's heart attack. Newton discusses the many accomplishments of his presidency (strong economic growth, keeping the peace, resisting repeated advise to use atomic weapons in various situations, resisting pressure to spend more than necessary on the military, the interstate highway system, the St. Lawrence Seaway, working with leaders of both parties in Congress, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 & 1960, strong support of desegregation in Little Rock schools, appointing judges who supported civil rights, balanced budgets-including opposition to politically popular tax cuts that would result in budget deficits, helping to bring down Joseph McCarthy, adding land to our national park system), and his shortcomings (the use of covert operations to overthrow of elected governments in Iran and Guatemala, his lack of moral leadership in civil rights, authorizing the U-2 flight in 1960, the treatment of Robert Oppenheimer). The book's only shortcoming is that it fails to provide more detailed information to better explain the context of various policy decisions. Stephen Ambrose's biography of Eisenhower's presidency remains the most detailed biography available. Nonetheless, this biography is very good and provides an excellent overview of our 34th President.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging and Revealing Portrait 1 Dec 2011
By Rob Wilcox - Published on Amazon.com
Jim Newton's biography of President Dwight D. Eisenhower is a thoroughly engaging and surprisingly revealing look at one of the 20th Century's greatest leaders. I say "surprisingly revealing" because through the years Eisenhower has often been viewed as a great tactical General but not as an energetic and imaginative President.

Newton's "Eisenhower: The White House Years," does focus on IKE's Presidency, but it also provides a detailed account of his early life, Army career and life after the White House. Eisenhower's personal, and often tender relationships with his parents, brothers, wife Mamie and son John paint a man of devotion and often deep emotion.

The book shows IKE as a Chief Executive who was intricately involved in the decision making prcess. Though he had strong and opinionated aides around him, like John Foster Dulles and Sherman Adams, he took their counsel but made his own decisions.

In foreign affairs Newton shows that Eisenhower was the right man at the right time to take the helm during a turbulent period around the world. In the beginning of his first term he ended the Korean War and then was faced with leading America during the emerging Cold War. He handled the Soviets and China with aplomb and strength. But IKE was also ever mindful of the threat of nuclear weaponry and that such a war would end civilization as he knew it. He struck a careful balance between strength and negotiation.

IKE has been short changed in history on the domestic front. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson are credited as the Presidents who shaped the large infrastructure and social programs for the nation. However, Newton details Eisenhower's successful effort to create a national highway program.

Newton gives us insight to IKE's reluctant journey on civil rights and how his steady leadership on this issue broke historic ground without tearing the nation apart.

Probably no political relationship during Eisenhower's career is as interesting as the one with his Vice-President Richard Nixon. Newton writes that though Eisenhower chose the then Senator from California as his running mate he was at times skeptical. In fact he strongly considered nudging Nixon off the ticket when the fund scandal erupted shortly after the Republican National Convention in 1952. Ike also considered carefully orchestrating Nixon's removal from the ticket in 1956.

But through the years Eisenhower grew more impressed by Nixon's political capablities and strong performances during difficult times such as Eisenhower's heart attack, facing angry mobs in South America and a skillful debate with Nikita Kruschev.

Jim Newton has an easy writing style that makes the figures he writes about come alive. Around major events in the book he peppers it with anecdotes of what IKE may have eaten that day or how his golf or bridge games turned out.

Overall, this is a descriptive and human portrait of the Nation's 34th President.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A workmanlike synthesis 30 Oct 2011
By Dangerfield - Published on Amazon.com
Jim Newton's new biography of Dwight Eisenhower will be of interest primarily to those with little knowledge of the former president. It summarizes and synthesizes all of the major events of Ike's two terms, producing a coherent and well written account based on a thorough review of primary sources. But readers already familiar with the more recent literature on Eisenhower and his times will find little new here. Several jacket reviews suggest that Newton's book undermines the current consensus that Ike was a passive, uninvolved president, who played golf and bridge while delegating decisions to others. However, most scholars now believe that he was a competent, well-informed leader who was not the captive of his advisers--a view that Newton certainly shares.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Middle 22 Nov 2011
By Stephen T. Hopkins - Published on Amazon.com
Readers of political biography usually want two elements to dominate: a vivid portrait of the individual that makes him or her come alive, and a description of the context or world situation in which the subject engaged. Jim Newton's biography, Eisenhower: The White House Years, masters both elements. For readers like me who think of the 1950s as a boring and stable decade, and who recall Ike as a grandfatherly golfer who led his Administration with a light touch, this book debunks such myths. This was a very complex time and Ike was fully engaged on the issues and challenges we faced. He pursued a middle path that seems quaint in the context of today's partisan political environment. Readers who enjoy good writing and lively political biography are those most likely to enjoy this book.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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