Eisenhower : the White House years

by Jim Newton

Paper Book, 2011




New York : Doubleday, c2011.


Newly discovered and declassified documents make for a surprising and revealing portrait of the president we thought we knew. Belittled by his critics as the babysitter-in-chief, Eisenhower ground down Joseph McCarthy, stimulated the economy to lift it from recession, and turned an $8 billion deficit in 1953 into a $500 million surplus in 1960. 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. 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jrgoetziii
Very well done. IN a couple of places I found awkward language but on the whole, solid prose, a balanced approach to the major issues and players of 1950s Washington, and a striking portrait of one of the finest forgotten figures in United States history.
LibraryThing member gbelik
This bio focuses on Ike's political life rather than his military career. Despite an unfortunate predilection for clandestine capers, Eisenhower presided over 8 pretty peaceful years. This book increased my respect for him and his caution as the US and the Soviet Union learned to deal with their nuclear arsenals.
LibraryThing member rivkat
Very positive biography of a stolid Republican who had a temper and loved golf, and delegated a lot of important decisions to his subordinates. Weirdly, the book spends essentially no time on Ike as general: if I were to say “he oversaw D-Day,” I’d only be spending about a paragraph less than the book on the actual details of what he did/decided. I know it's called "The White House Years," but actually the book takes half its time getting there, and it could've used more on Eisenhower's war experiences and whether they affected him at all as president. Newton takes the position that Eisenhower was basically indifferent to racial discrimination (despite his famous comment to Earl Warren about how white girls shouldn’t have to sit next to black boys, which Newton concludes probably did occur) and thought that “both sides” were too aggressive, but sent federal troops to Little Rock to preserve the power of the federal government when directly challenged. Ike also oversaw what was, at the time, a “successful” covert operation against the government of Iran, and unfortunately we took the wrong lessons from that, trying to replicate it across the developing world where we wanted to win proxy battles with the Soviets by hook or by crook.… (more)


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