IKE AND MAMIE: The Story of the General and His Lady by Lester & Irene David David

IKE AND MAMIE: The Story of the General and His Lady

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They had their ""bumps and jolts""--but Mamie, we're told, wasn't an alcoholic and the Kay Summersby affair was probably a confabulation. Most of this is predictable gush: the spoiled belle of Denver and San Antonio marries the personable lieutenant from the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks in Abilene; endures the dislocations, drab quarters, and loneliness of Army life; steadfastly supports her mate; etc. And we see Ike crushed, and the marriage shaken, by first-born Icky's death. But with Mrs. Eisenhower no longer alive, the Davids needn't be totally circumspect (viz. his air-brushed portraits of Pat Nixon, Ethel and Joan Kennedy): you also get the idea that she was willful and petulant and demanding--and no favorite of the White House staff. A very limited woman too--concerned, at Columbia, ""that she might not find players who used the Army-wives system of mah-jongg,"" her favorite pastime (for which Ike wouldn't forgo bridge). But the only news-interest here is the-Davids' scrutiny of the Summersby story--which they attribute to the aging Truman's wavering memory and pique against Ike (no evidence of a Marshall reprimand exists--though he had such a file; HST put forth other inventions, etc.) and to Summersby's need for money when she was dying of cancer (considerable fresh material here--from fellow-WW II drivers and postwar American friends). The upshot is to call the magnitude of the episode, at least, into question. And the Davids' insistence that Mamie started drinking heavily in response to the rumors, then cut down (her penchant for high heels, into old age, sometimes made her look unsteady), may not be far off the mark either. Otherwise the book is mostly violins and trivia--and altogether for those addicted (like Mantle) to the afternoon soaps and perfumed lives of presidential wives.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam