Eisenhower: The White House Years

Random House Publishers, 2001, 464 pages by John Newton.
Audio version(15 discs): Produced by Books on Tape and read by John Mayer

Who am I to top a one sentence critique written by journalist Bob Woodard?  He wrote:  “A truly great book, spirited, balanced and not just the story of a President but of an era.”  That just about says it all.
Let me tell you why I chose this book on audio for listening.  I wanted to think instead of dully listen.  This book accomplished that and so much more.

Eisenhower was the first president for which I ever cast a ballot.  I was nine years old when Eisenhower took office in 1953.  We had a school house election in November and my dad coached me to vote for “Ike” which I did.  Our teacher, Mrs. Jenks, kept all of our eight grades involved in current events in our one-room schoolhouse.  I was a senior in high school when Eisenhower left office in 1961.  It was far past time for me to read a biography of the President who shaped much of my youth. Since I found the book in the audio section of the library, I happily borrowed it.

Newton, as Woodward said, wrote a balanced book of victories and defeats.  Newton also found access to information that had been once classified and because Newton just previously to this book had researched diligently to write a biography of Earl Warren, Supreme Court Justice during the Eisenhower administration, writes with authority on his subject.

This audio book is 19 hours long.  It took me awhile to get through it, but amazingly, it is so well written that I never seemed to lose my train of thought along the way.

My next big reading project is taking on the reading a biography on each of our Presidents to date.  Last year I read about both Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln is done, as is Washington.  Perhaps I wanted to write this review more to challenge you, my readers, to do the same.  Regardless of the President you choose, I do recommend that you read about the President who served during your youth.  You may be surprised at how the events of that time shaped your life and you were unaware of it.  You’ll find yourself saying “I remember that. . .”  You will also leave the book knowing that being President is certainly not an easy job.

I learned that I have two things in common with Eisenhower:  baseball and Western books.  He liked Zane Grey.  His favorite movie was “Angels in the Outfield,” a movie that I recently watched – not the new version, the original black and white version.  My dad taught me that every person has something good about them.  I believe it.

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2 Comments

  1. I have the author’s name wrong, but didn’t catch it until after I plunked the cursor down on the “publish” button. Jim, JIM Newton. I’d guess it isn’t the first time someone called him John.

  2. Two things stand out clearly in my memory. I was 7 in 1953. It was in either my first or second-grade year that we got the first round of the Salk Vaccine for polio. That was a VERY big deal. Also, I remember when the words ‘Under God” were added to the pledge of allegiance. I remember bomb drills, crouching under our desks with our arms over our heads. I remember a storeroom filled with Civil Defense water barrels. And I think I remember that my parents switched to the Republican party so they could vote for Ike. Patriotism was still a very big deal back then, and I remember learning the song “There are many flags of many lands; there are flags of every hue. But there is no flag, however grand, like our own red, white and blue.”

    We were proud to be Americans then.

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