Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life

Book Review



Eisenhower: A Soldier's  Life


Carlo D'Este


Henry  Holt and Co., New York, NY



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

August, 2002


Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life is the extensive biography  of the former President and World War Two general. It covers the time from his childhood through the end of the Second World War. This is a hardcover edition  of almost 700 pages.

Get more information about Eisenhower at amazon.comRaised on the Great Plains, it seemed that a young Eisenhower would never amount to  much. Not knowing exactly what he wanted to do with life, his direction was  irrevocably changed in a chance meeting with cadets on leave. Finally accepted to West Point, he began training as an Army cadet. Here, he discovered for the first time that his knowledge of the game of football would direct the path  of his military career. He attended the academy with other famous personalities,  some of which would later join him as leaders of the fight against the Axis powers including Bradley and Patton. He also met the woman that would become  his wife and forever alter his life.

The time between the two world wars was difficult for those making a career  of military service. These times for the Eisenhowers were no different. Promotions  were non-existent and the pay poor. With his wartime experience during World War I devoted to training, logistics, and coaching football, Eisenhower was  shuffled from one overseas assignment to the next after the war, with tours  of duty in France, Panama, and the Philippines. Although he didn't know it at the time, these assignments were preparing him for the challenges of leading the Allies as the clouds of war began to gather.

After the United States entered World War II, it soon became apparent to all that leading the diverse group of Allied partners would require somebody with political skills to match their military prowess. With other candidates being  rejected for one reason or another, Eisenhower became the prime candidate to  forge a winning alliance. While history shows that many of his decisions would  later prove right, the biographer demonstrates the great difficulties Eisenhower  overcame in getting this group to successfully prosecute their ambitious campaign  agenda.

At times the portrayal of the personalities in this biography seemed contradictory to me. In one paragraph, the author discusses at length Eisenhower's health  problems, then in the very next paragraph says that he appeared to be perfectly  healthy to all around him. The overall picture portrayed seemed to me to be of an incompetent general leading a poorly chosen and motivated officer corps. The generals of America's allies fare little better. The author chooses to show  the German officers such as Rommel and Model as being more competent than their  allied counterparts. To his credit, the biographer does not try to scandalize Eisenhower's life.

Any history buff interested in the 20th century will find this biography a valuable  resource for understanding the most powerful military personalities of that era. This biography is exhaustive in its presentation and extensively researched,  providing vast quantities of information. The author takes these facts and welds them into a clear but sometimes contradictory picture of the future president and the men around him.

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