A condensed version of five-star General Dwight David Eisenhower’s military career.
Eisenhower was overshadowed as a general by contemporaries Patton and MacArthur, sandwiched as president between the important FDR/Truman and the charismatic Kennedy. But his virtues become more manifest as time passes. Ike may not have been either America’s greatest general or president, but he has emerged as our best combined such leader since Washington. Drawing heavily on previously published materials, Wukovits (One Square Mile of Hell, not reviewed) has efficiently distilled Eisenhower’s life as a soldier, following his career from the plains of Kansas to West Point, where he was an avid footballer and an indifferent student, to a series of Army posts in Texas, Maryland, Panama, Kansas, the Philippines and Washington D.C., where his uncommon organizational ability and talent for training men kept him, against his own wishes, off the battlefield. Instead, he developed an interest in and devotion to the military; acquired a thorough understanding of all branches and levels of the Army; and learned first-hand strategic and political lessons from the likes of Patton, MacArthur and, most importantly, Generals Fox Connor and George C. Marshall. He emerged during WWII as the indispensable Supreme Allied Commander, able, through consensus, to conceive grand strategy, to tame prima donna generals and to deal with Roosevelt and Churchill as an equal. After defeating the Nazis, he became Army chief of staff and later head of NATO before running successfully for president in 1952. Wukovits attributes Ike’s military ascent and success to his focus, his dedication to teamwork, his empathy for the common soldier, his media savvy and his absolute devotion to duty. The brief text contains sufficient evidence to support this analysis. Mercifully infrequent references to contemporary conflicts come off as ham-handed attempts to make Eisenhower relevant and detract from a biography otherwise so tightly focused.
For the general reader looking for a handy guide to Eisenhower’s long, important and event-filled life in the armed forces.