A New York Times Notable Book
Born to hardscrabble poverty in rural Kansas, the son of stern pacifists, Dwight Daid Eisenhower graduated from high school more likely to teach history than to make it. With full access to his private papers and letters, Carlo D'Este, the bestselling author of Patton: A Genius for War, traces Eisenhower's meteoric rise to high command and identifies the complex and contradictor character behind Ike's famous grin and air of calm self-assurance.
After four years at West Point—where he jeopardized his career by repeatedly flouting academy rules—Ike graduated to the grim hardships of army postings in the South and Washington, D. C., and in the Philippines and the steamy jungles of Panama, which tested his sometimes troubled marriage as well as threatening his professional future. D'Este chronicles Ike's introduction to the inner sanctums of the War Department and Whitehall, his painful apprenticeship on the battlefields of the Mediteranean, the courageous D-Day decision, and the bloody and controversial battles of north-west Europe in 1944-1945.
For the first time D'Este dispels the myths that have surrounded Eisenhower and his family since he first became a public persona. With fresh insight, he probes Eisenhower's clashes with Montgomery and the British chiefs of staff, his enigmatic relations with Churchill, and his encounters with many legendary figures of the century including FDR, George C. Marshall, George S. Patton, and Charles de Gaulle. We learn also the truth behind his much-publicized romance with his wartime driver, Kay Summersby.
As the story of Eisenhower's life through V-E Day in 1945 is unveiled, it becomes evident that no amount of training or experience could have fully prepared him for the most challenging role given to any offtcer in World War II. His tenacious resolve to fight an allied war was the indispensable glue that made the joint military venture successtul. That he was equal to the task is now virtually taken for granted; however, during those desperate years nothing was certain.
Based on tive years of primary research, Carlo D'Este's riveting a appraisal reveals a man of surprising complexity: A born optimist who always expected to win, Eisenhower was also a master manipulator who often concealed an intelligence as sharp and icy as any. And in the hours before D-Day, beset with concern for his men, Ike seemed like the loneliest man in the world. As he remarked to Kay Summersby, "It's hard to look a soldier in the eye when you fear you are sending him to his death."