cover image The Light of Battle: Eisenhower, D-Day, and the Birth of the American Superpower

The Light of Battle: Eisenhower, D-Day, and the Birth of the American Superpower

Michel Paradis. Mariner, $32.50 (528p) ISBN 978-0-358-68237-0

Dwight Eisenhower’s steady wartime leadership is limned in this meticulous account of the planning of D-Day. Historian Paradis (Last Mission to Tokyo) tracks Eisenhower’s tactful navigation of tricky problems and personalities involved in orchestrating the Allied invasion of occupied Europe. These include his overseeing of multiple countries’ land, sea, and air forces, a finely tuned combination of which Eisenhower theorized would make possible a successful amphibious invasion of heavily defended beaches (a feat military experts had deemed foolhardy since the failure of the British invasion of Gallipoli during WWI) and dealings with Winston Churchill, whose “great literary imagination” made his military calculations unrealistic. Making matters even more complicated were tensions arising from the influx of U.S. troops stationed in Britain, especially outrage among the British public over segregation in the American military and harsher penalties for Black troops accused of rape (Eisenhower commuted one such death sentence when he learned the evidence was nonexistent). Paradis peppers his narrative with glimpses of Eisenhower’s sly humor in letters to his wife, building a sharp portrait of a man whose suspicion of extravagance led to his ascendance on the world stage as a trustworthy figure. The result is a discerning examination of Eisenhower’s personal hand in establishing America’s reputation as levelheaded “leader of the free world.” (June)