ADVISING IKE by Herbert Brownell

ADVISING IKE

The Memoirs of Attorney General Herbert Brownell
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 More than 35 years after leaving office, Brownell recalls serving as campaign adviser and attorney general for the man ``head and shoulders above all the other political figures I have ever encountered'': Dwight D. Eisenhower. In many ways, Brownell's autobiography--with an assist from Burke (Political Science/University of Vermont)--could serve as the credo of the ``Wall Street wing'' of socially moderate, internationalist Republicans once epitomized by Thomas Dewey (whose two runs for the presidency Brownell guided as campaign manager) and Nelson Rockefeller. In several years as a New York State assemblyman in the 1930's, the reforming young lawyer and Nebraska native learned not to ``denounce one's opponents too strongly or two personally''; indeed, his only real pique here is vented at fiercely partisan Democrats Harry Truman and FDR, including the dark hint that the latter might have lost the 1944 election but for coverups of his health and of alleged negligence at Pearl Harbor. Although these memoirs also cover the Dewey campaigns and Brownell's 62 years of private law practice, the most compelling sections deal with the Eisenhower years. Brownell is most revealing about the hush-hush communications and climactic secret meeting that led the general to seek the 1952 GOP nomination; how Ike came to appoint Earl Warren to the Supreme Court; and the author's own key support for the awakening civil-rights movement. Throughout, Brownell displays intelligence, respect for public service, and shrewdness in assessing how his nonpolitician boss built a cohesive team and retained the affection of the American people. But his narrative is inhibited by a lawyerly reluctance to reveal anything too damaging to his ``client'' (for example, Brownell's contention that Ike was not trying to dump Nixon by offering him a Cabinet post is pure spin-control). Despite the reticence: an important memoir likely to bolster Eisenhower's evolving reputation for above-the-fray, ``hidden- hand'' leadership. (Twenty-six b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1993
ISBN: 0-7006-0590-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993