IKE: His Life and Times by Piers Brendon

IKE: His Life and Times

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A light biography of Dwight Eisenhower, joining the current rash of works on Ike and his times. Brendon (Winston Churchill, The Life and Death of the Press Barons, Eminent Edwardians) apparently is aiming this work at those who look for readability rather than depth in their biographies. Brendon sees Eisenhower's life as an exercise in paradox. Appearing the stern moralist, Ike could yet arrange to pull the wool over Custom's eyes by having his favorite French wine smuggled home to America; everybody's father figure could yet get himself into dire straits over Kay Summersby during the war; a man who over all things valued consensus could let yet himself become a vehicle for Barry Goldwater's extreme cause in 1964. Brendon's ultimate description of Ike is as a man whose ""whole existence can be represented as a selfless endeavor to realize the vision of the golden mean."" And in the same vein, ""Eisenhower was a palimpsest of conflicting views on which the latest impression was the clearest. ""Technically, Brendon's approach suffers from an overuse of contemporary impressions. One would think, reading here of the U-2 affair, or of Nixon's race against Kennedy in 1960, or of the 1964 Republican Convention, that there was no such thing as historical distancing or perspective. One may as well be reading old editions of Time. Save your precious reading time for Stephen Ambrose's multi-volume biography. Or, if you really want to get down to details, for David Eisenhower's soon-to-appear three-volume work (see below).

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row