Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World

Evan Thomas, Author
Evan Thomas. Little, Brown, $29.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-09104-6
Reviewed on: 07/09/2012
Release date: 09/25/2012
Hardcover - 655 pages - 978-0-316-22416-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-21727-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-61969-190-2
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-316-09103-9
Hardcover - 299 pages - 978-0-316-25219-5
Hardcover - 978-1-908096-94-4
Book - 978-1-61969-744-7
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Often derided as an inattentive national grandfather, Eisenhower emerges as a subtle, sharp-witted master statesman in this probing study of his foreign and security policies. Historian Thomas (The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898) paints a colorful, richly detailed portrait of a man whose habit of hiding his cutting intellect, volcanic temper, and poker-player’s instincts behind public grins and vague pronouncements amounted to a profound political strategy. Eisenhower’s low-key nuclear brinkmanship anchors the book. Thomas argues that Ike’s deliberately ambiguous statements about using nuclear weapons caused the Soviets and Chinese to back off. His duplicity and indirection prevailed in everything from the Suez Crisis to his battle against bloated defense budgets. The result, Thomas contends, was an audacious geopolitical gamble: while dreading the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, Ike embraced a doctrine of massive retaliation that put nuclear war at the heart of American strategy—and then adroitly used it to defuse military confrontations. Thomas’s appreciation of Eisenhower is sometimes too sunny; he says little about Ike’s approval of CIA-sponsored coups in Iran and Guatemala and the troubled interventionist path they charted. Still, his vivid, compelling profile of Eisenhower—the man and the shrewd operator—should spark reconsideration of his presidency. Photos. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Sept. 25)
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