The 40th anniversary of Victory in Europe is a good vantage-point from which to look back on the career of the Supreme Allied Commander under whom in the West that victory was won. It should come as no surprise that in the light of history Dwight Eisenhower's personal contribution to that immense achievement should appear more considerable than is implied by the titular and public relations role that was sometimes attributed to him. When he went on to become President of the United States, he once more found himself described as a constitutional monarch rather than an executive leader. Yet in the perspective of an unlucky line of successors his completion of two terms of office as popular at the end as at the beginning, with a record of peace and prosperity, a balanced budget for two years running, and a long succession of crises deftly and coolly managed, looks scarcely accidental. The author of this two-volume life, based on prodigious familiarity with the archives and an admirably assured and unfussy style, has been at work on it for twenty years. In the course of that period he has spun off various lengthy by-products, such as a 732-page study of The Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-volume edition of Eisenhower's war papers, and special studies of Eisenhower and Berlin and even Ike's Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment.
LRB 4 July 1985 | PDF Download