Flattering Portrait of Ike's Military and Political Career

Article excerpt

Eisenhower: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century. Douglas Kinnard. Brassey's Inc. 114 pages; photographs; maps; index; $19.95.

In the three score years since World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower has been the subject of numerous biographies. In the most recent examination of Eisenhower's career, soldier-- historian Douglas Kinnard sympathetically portrays his subject as "truly a man of the people, one of America's most loved 20th-century men as well as one of the greatest presidents of his century." In so doing, Kinnard makes an important contribution to Brassey's, Inc.'s "Military Profiles" series, which are designed to provide the general reader with essential treatments of the most significant and popular figures in world history.

Kinnard is hardly a stranger to the study of the 34th president. A West Point graduate and former chief of military history for the U.S. Army, Kinnard has been in the forefront of Eisenhower revisionism since the late 1970s. He published President Eisenhower and Strategy Management and

The Secretary of Defense, landmarks in the study of defense management in the post-World War II era. Nor is he a stranger to biography. Kinnard's The Certain Trumpet: Maxwell Taylor and the American Experience in Vietnam and Ike 1890-1990: A Pictorial History provide interesting perspectives of the lives of two prominent soldier-statesmen.

In his current biography, Kinnard breaks little new ground, but provides an intriguing analysis of Eisenhower's military and political career. From Abilene, Kan., to West Point, where Ike "remained a prankster imbued with a Kansan frontier spirit," Eisenhower first attracted the attention of his military superiors by his adept command of a tank training center outside Gettysburg, Pa., during the Great War. In the brown shoe Army of the interwar period, Eisenhower worked successively under three officers who greatly influenced his career and set him on the path to greatness. Generals Fox Conner, Douglas MacArthur and George C. Marshall each contributed mightily to Eisenhower's professional development, but Ike reserved special affection for Conner, whom he labeled "the one more or less invisible figure to whom he owed an incalculable debt."

The compact nature of the Military Profiles series limits the extent to which authors can analyze their respective subjects, and Eisenhower: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century is no exception. Kinnard dedicates two chapters to Eisenhower's World War II career. In the first, Kinnard portrays Ike's own maturation as a coalition commander in North Africa, a campaign that marked "the end of the beginning" of Nazi Germany. …