The redoubtable, nay prolific and left of wingnut historian Paul Johnson has now penned his version of the life of our 34th President – Dwight David Eisenhower. Though really a monograph and not a full biography at a mere 144 pages, Eisenhower: A Life is the sort of potted history one would read as a survey before partaking in the full historiographical meal needed to assess any figure of Eisenhower’s stature.
According to an official description of the book, “Johnson chronicles President Eisenhower’s modest childhood in Kansas, his college years at West Point, and his rapid ascent through the military ranks, culminating in his appointment as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. Beginning when Eisenhower assumed the presidency from Harry Truman in 1952, Johnson paints a rich portrait of his two consecutive terms, exploring his volatile relationship with then-Vice President Richard Nixon, his abhorrence of isolationism, and his position on the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the Civil Rights Movement. Johnson notes that when Eisenhower left the White House at age 70, reluctantly passing the torch to President-elect John F. Kennedy, he feared for the country’s future and prophetically warned of the looming military-industrial complex.”
Such a taste of Eisenhower’s presidency will introduce the reader to some of the very same political issues we fight about today, and it will introduce the milieu that launched the national career of Vice President, Richard Nixon, which of course is an entirely different story.
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