Eisenhower historian Nichols (A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution, 2007, etc.) provides a richly contextual reappraisal of a telling year in the presidency.
The year 1956 could have been potentially calamitous for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Months after a debilitating heart attack, he underwent emergency intestinal surgery, yet nonetheless decided to tackle the rigors of reelection campaigning. Meanwhile, Egypt and Israel were preparing to ignite a conflagration in the Sinai just as President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and American allies Britain, France and Israel decided to invade the region in November without informing the United States of their plans. Further, the Soviet Union took advantage of the “moral smoke screen” to ruthlessly quell the democratic uprising in Hungary. However, the precarious events of the year only elicited Eisenhower’s legendary mettle, as Nichols reveals in this suspenseful study that moves chronologically through the days in which the U.S. government was on tenterhooks. Eisenhower was a master planner and delegator, but first and foremost, he was a soldier whose unique perspective on World War II had resolved him to avoid another war at all costs. “We believe that the power of modern weapons makes war not only perilous—but preposterous—and the only way to win World War III is to prevent it,” he declared in November. Wary of the Soviets and disgusted with the British, Eisenhower adamantly opposed military invention once Nasser announced the news about the Suez. Along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the president advocated peace talks, all the while Israel, France and Britain were secretly plotting Operation Musketeer. The multifaceted crisis struck right around Election Day, yet a cease-fire was soon instated, the election won by a landslide and his Eisenhower Doctrine formulated, which has somewhat contained the fragile tension of the Middle East until today.
A solid revisiting of this compelling leader about whom we are still learning. See David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower’s Going Home to Glory (2010) for even more fresh information about this fascinating president.