Upon assuming the presidency in 1953, Dwight Eisenhower came to be seen by many as a doddering lightweight. Yet behind the bland smile and apparent simplemindedness was a brilliant, intellectual tactician. As Evan Thomas reveals in his provocative examination of Ike’s White House years, Eisenhower was a master of calculated duplicity. As with his bridge and poker games he was eventually forced to stop playing after leaving too many fellow army officers insolvent, Ike could be patient and ruthless in the con, and generous and expedient in his partnerships. Facing the Soviet Union, China, and his own generals, some of whom believed a first strike was the only means of survival, Eisenhower would make his boldest and riskiest bet yet, one of such enormity that there could be but two outcomes: the survival of the world, or its end.
This is the story of how he won.
About Evan Thomas
Evan Thomas is the author of several bestselling works of history and biography, including The War Lovers and Sea of Thunder. He was a writer and editor at Time and Newsweek for more than 30 years, and he is frequently a commentator on television and radio. He teaches at Princeton University and lives in Washington, D.C.
Often viewed as trustworthy but bland, Eisenhower didn’t let on what was really roiling behind the comforting exterior, as Thomas (Writing/Princeton Univ.; The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898, 2010, etc.) effectively argues in this chronological look at his presidency. In fact, atomic war loomed: The hydrogen bomb was being routinely tested to the obliteration of Pacific atolls, while the Joint Chiefs of Staff were itching to provoke the Soviet Union and hot spots in Korea, China, Suez and Berlin were offering an opportunity. If anyone knew the devastation of war, Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower certainly did. While he avoided initial calls to jump into the presidential fray, he was convinced that only he could keep the country secure and at peace; he assumed the duty personally, and the physical burden ruined his health. Thomas emphasizes Ike’s mastery at bridge, not because he had consistently good hands but because he could bluff. As he had learned through his World War II strategic command, he promoted an all-or-nothing approach to crises, standing cautious yet willing to throw everything in if required for victory. Tellingly, he moved the stockpiling of atomic weapons from the civilian Atomic Energy Commission to the military, and he did not concern himself with alleviating public hysteria over the threat of atomic warfare. Yet from crisis to crisis, he maintained a “healthy skepticism about the grandiose schemes of the military,” leading him to close his presidency with his haunting warning about the “military industrial complex.” Thomas ably demonstrates how operating through indirection became Ike’s effective peacekeeping strategy. – Kirkus Reviews
An Old Warrior With No Taste for Nuclear War
The New York Times Book Review – September 24, 2012 (Ecerpt)
Until very recently, Dwight D. Eisenhower has done a remarkably good job of hiding in plain sight. The Eisenhower era, the Eisenhower jacket and the still in-the-works Eisenhower memorial (planned for Washington) attract more news attention than the man himself does.
And despite a library’s worth of books, letters, papers and oral histories documenting this president’s life and times, Eisenhower’s importance is only beginning to be widely noticed. The impression of a bland man overwhelmed by the demands of the Oval Office has been so easily embraced that it refuses to go away.
Even this year, when new books and reprints about the 34th president abound and Eisenhower revisionism is on the rise, the subject remains below the radar, or at least without wide readership. Evan Thomas’s “Ike’s Bluff,” a bustling, anecdotal book with a high-concept premise, aims to change all that. [Read the full article...]
IKE’S BLUFF President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World By Evan Thomas
The Washington Post Book Review – October 6, 2012 (Excerpt)
More than half a century after the 34th president left office, book publishers have built a thriving Eisenhower-industrial complex. Every year brings forth at least one major new Eisenhower book — the flow is so consistent that the release of a traditional biography no longer seems to excite. Since the trove of Eisenhower historical documents isn’t expanding, publishers instead seek some seductive twist for each new volume.
In Evan Thomas’s case, the twist is to present Dwight Eisenhower as a president with hidden strategic depths that were rarely acknowledged by his contemporaries. Eisenhower’s gentle manner and sometimes bumbling style were, in Thomas’s telling, tactics calculated to throw off opponents. Poker was said to be Ike’s favorite game, and for Thomas the bluff becomes the book’s prevailing metaphor. He argues that Eisenhower’s savvy gamesmanship kept the world from destroying itself. [Read the full article...]
Review: ‘Ike’s Bluff’ offers an unconventional take on Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Chicago Tribune Book Review – October 7, 2012 (Excerpt)
For even cursory students of the 1950s, Evan Thomas’ new book, “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World,” offers little in the way of fresh material. But by zeroing in on Eisenhower’s handling of the itchy fingers on the nuclear trigger, Thomas has come up with an interesting if narrow portrait of the former president in the face of nuclear annihilation.
Thomas clearly is enamored with Eisenhower, and “Ike’s Bluff” falls in line with the modern revisionist movement that has added an aura of canniness to a man previously viewed as bored and boring, more interested in playing golf and bridge than in leading the country. It’s an enjoyable book, fast-moving and packed with anecdotes.
But in the end, Thomas doesn’t quite make the case. He interprets Eisenhower’s political detachment and lack of direct leadership to be, in fact, strong leadership. Eisenhower had a predilection for ambiguity, and by not making his position clear on when he would use nuclear weapons, Thomas argues, Eisenhower achieved the end he sought: nuclear deterrence. [Read the full article...]
Subtle and Brutal - ‘Ike’s Bluff,’ by Evan Thomas
The New York times Book Review – November 21, 2012 (Excerpt)
Evan Thomas’s “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World” is an examination of Dwight Eisenhower’s record that seeks to understand how he successfully kept the United States out of a major war during the eight years of his presidency. It is in keeping with the recent trend in complimentary revisionist histories of the administration, like “Eisenhower in War and Peace,” by Jean Edward Smith, and “Eisenhower: The White House Years,” by Jim Newton. Thomas tells us that once Eisenhower “extricated America from the Korean War in 1953,” his mission was to “avoid any war.” For that reason, Thomas, who teaches writing and journalism at Princeton and is the author of several books, concentrates on Eisenhower’s foreign policy and national security decisions to the exclusion of almost everything else. The president’s civil rights record, for example, is mentioned only briefly, and as a demonstration of his leadership talents.
Eisenhower’s ambiguity is a recurring theme in this account. His style was to avoid telling anyone his definite views on a subject. At the time of the Chinese shelling of the small islands of Quemoy and Matsu in 1958, Thomas writes, “as he so often did, Eisenhower chose studied ambiguity.” In that case, Ike’s bluffing proved successful, but at other times his ambiguity could create needless confusion and misunderstanding. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
FrogenYozurt.com may generate ad income and accept advertising/ads and links. Paid entries are marked as “Paid Articles.” Entries describing a product (book reviews, etc.) may contain descriptions provided by the manufacturer or other sources (Amazon.Com, etc.).
All entries marked as "Satire" may refer to actual persons or events, however, the content is of a satirical nature based on the writers' personal views and should not be taken seriously. All other entries reflect personal opinions on various topics.
All content on this website has been posted under the impression that they do not infringe any copyrights. However, if this site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Should you suspect a copyright infringement or any other legal issues with posts on this website, please contact the editor through the contact form as indicated on the top navigation bar, and we will remove the post immediately. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.