IKE THE SOLDIER: As They Knew Him by Merle Miller


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A monumental (896-page) but vivid and consistently absorbing record of Dwight D. Eisenhower's military career; from an author who had a genuine flair for putting latter-day notables in human perspective. Miller (Plain Speaking; Lyndon) spent five years on the text, which was completed shortly before his death last year. Drawing on interviews with contemporaries, plus a wealth of unpublished diaries, letters and memoirs, the author provides a fresh account of Ike's extensively documented journey from his Kansas roots, West Point years, and peacetime service to enduring glory as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces. While not scanting the battlefield strategy and tactics employed by Eisenhower in North Africa as well as Europe, Miller focuses on the making of a surpassingly good soldier. With just the right amount of interpretive commentary, he provides telling examples of Ike's athletic prowess, poker skills, political savvy, organizational expertise, and even guile--attributes that prepared him for his ultimate martial assignment. Miller does not depart significantly from the still, waters view of Eisenhower, which has largely supplanted the happy-warrior/lucky-stiff appraisals that prevailed for many years. He offers a nuanced portrait of a very human being who happened to be disarmingly charming as well as ultracompetent, tough-minded, and able to make the most of his opportunities. Miller even managed to uncover some new material, most notably perhaps, Ike's letters to his boyhood love, Gladys Harding. On the subject of Eisenhower's alleged affair with Kay Summersby, however, the author is noncommital to the point of reticence. An informed and balanced tribute to a world-class leader whose remarkable character gains greater luster with the passage of time.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1987
Publisher: Putnam