Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Ike

E ISENHOWER'S PERSONALITY AND style of operation were particularly well suited to the responsibilities given to him during the war. Broad optimism and genuine modesty made him particularly easy to take. Although brief exposure to his papers may cause cynics to conclude that such humility was contrived, thorough acquaintance with both the man and his writings dispels any skepticism. When, for example, he was informed early in the war that magazines were carrying articles about him back in the States, he wrote to an old friend: "When I have time to think about the matter at all, I merely wonder what kind of fanciful picture of my very ordinary characteristics all this publicity is building up in the popular mind."1 At the same time it would be misleading to conclude that such nonchalance connoted insufficient appreciation of his own talents and intelligence. He simply had too much appreciation of the abilities of others to regard himself as extraordinary, which may be why he was uncomfortable with "yes" men.2

The lack of conceit precluded a proclivity to make rapid judgments on insufficient evidence. If he had learned the need for caution, it was best illustrated by his daily style. Problems were, to him, challenges that, like hands in a card game, had to be examined for every possibility. Little, he insisted, could be judged without weighing all facts and circumstances thoroughly before coming to any conclusions. Not only were all the possible alternatives studied, but he had learned to consider the options open to the other fellow and to anticipate the most effective way of meeting the probable moves taken as a result of those possibilities.3 Once his own course had been decided, Eisenhower expected each subordinate to follow through within his own area of responsibility.

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