Dwight David Eisenhower and American Power

By William B. Pickett | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

An extraordinary if understandable cycle of interpretation has affected the appraisal of Eisenhower's career. The first articles and books appeared in the late 1950s and portrayed an inept and fumbling man in the White House, an interpretation that, with few exceptions, continued into the 1980s. According to these accounts Ike delegated responsibility to his staff and spent much if not most of his time on the golf course. These critics said this was not surprising. After all, he had remained an army major for sixteen years and never served with troops in battle. He became a hero of course, but this stemmed from a combination of factors, including the brilliance of his superior, General Marshall, the wartime productive capacity of the United States, his expansive personality, and wartime public relations. Fortunately, they asserted, the 1950s were a time unlike the preceding decades, when the President did not have to make important decisions. The American people in the 1950s—a period like an earlier postwar Republican era, that of Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge—desired little leadership. Ike was their man. A ranking by seventy-five historians in 1961 placed Eisenhower twenty-second best out of thirty-one Presidents, between Chester A. Arthur and Andrew Johnson. According to newspaper caricatures of the time, Eisenhower was an amiable President whose lack of attention to detail was reflected in imprecise answers to reporters' questions. His appointments to the cabinet—”eleven millionaires and a plumber”—betrayed an infatuation with wealth and influence. Eisenhower considered the Tennessee Valley Authority to be a form of “creeping socialism,” Chiefjustice Warren's

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Dwight David Eisenhower and American Power
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Editors' Foreword v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction and Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter One - Early Years 1
  • Chapter Two - War 22
  • Chapter Three - The Road to the White House 59
  • Chapter Four - Dilemmas of Power 98
  • Chapter Five - The Politics of Moderation 139
  • Chapter Six - Retirement 172
  • Conclusion 189
  • Bibliographical Essay 197
  • Index 217
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