From the bestselling author of Patton: A Genius for War comes a compelling new account of the transformation of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, from apprehensive soldier to one of our greatest heros.
In the weeks leading up to D-Day, Dwight D. Eisenhower seethed with nervous energy. He had not expected his military career to bring him to this moment. The son of pacifists, Ike graduated from high school more likely to teach history than to make it. Casting new light on this profound evolution, Eisenhower chronicles the unlikely, dramatic rise of the supreme Allied commander.
Beginning with the lasting effect of Eisenhower's impoverished youth, bestselling biographer Carlo D'Este follows his subject through West Point and a sometimes troubled marriage; toil under MacArthur in the Philippines during the 1930s; the inner sanctums of the War Department; the general's painful North African apprenticeship; and, finally, the dramatic events leading to the Allied victory in May 1945.
Exposing for the first time numerous myths that have surrounded the war hero and his family (such as his romance with his wartime driver, Kay Summersby), D'Este also probes Eisenhower's famous clashes with his American peers and the British chiefs of staff, as well as his relations with legendary figures, including Winston Churchill and George S. Patton.
Unlike other biographies of the general, Eisenhower captures Ike's true character, from his youth to the pinnacle of his career and afterward.
There is hardly a shortage of books about Dwight Eisenhower, but Carlo D'Este's Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life stands tall in this forest by virtue of the author's insistence on a too-often forgotten rule of biographers: show--don't tell about--the subject. Though D'Este doesn't neglect Eisenhower's early years (his sketch of the man's rambunctious West Point years is hearteningly entertaining), the book concentrates on his military career, including his years of treading water in the Philippines. By far the most trenchant sections, however, deal with World War II (including a keen look at the little-discussed North African campaign.) We see Ike, who had a famous temper and, when angry, a most indelicate vocabulary, chain-smoking cigarettes and unable to sleep in the weeks leading to D-day; refusing--out of disgust for German atrocities--to be present at the signing of the articles of surrender; bantering, though his heart was heavy, with enlisted men; wrestling contentiously with MacArthur and Field Marshall Montgomery. We read excerpts of his letters to Mamie and are privy to, perhaps, his laying the groundwork for a political career. A Soldier's Life, long but brisk, sympathetic but not adoring, rigorous but never tedious, is a commendable biography. --H. O'Billovich