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Posted July 24, 2003
Biased and weak
Having read the nine books published thus far in the series, I would rate this book as the greatest failure. While the other authors focused on the man who served as president, Wicker focused only on issues which he deemed important. For example, the author expends only sixteen pages on Eisenhower¿s pre-presidential days (including World War II and the 1952 campaign) but devotes over twenty pages to the McCarthy hearings. The most that is written about Eisenhower the man (interests and hobbies) is one paragraph near the end of the book. Wicker is not only short on the personal attributes of Eisenhower; he expends little effort on the work of Ike¿s Administration. Rather than survey the breath of eight years of governance, the author focuses on a couple of major issues of the period. He then makes reference to a couple of other programs such as the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the interstate highway system, balanced budgets, and the Refugee Relief Act in one paragraph. He totally ignores other lasting contributions of the administration such as the ¿People-to-People¿ program, which includes the Sister City Program. But the gravest shortcoming of the book is that Wicker uses this biography to promote his own ideological views. Throughout the book he refers to the ¿right-wing¿ but never mentions the ¿left-wing.¿ He dismisses the ¿domino theory¿ of Eisenhower citing that Burma and Thailand did not go communist but ignores that Laos and Cambodia did. He is quick to condemn nations allied with the U.S. (¿In Guatemala, Eisenhower, the CIA, Anastazio Somoza were ushering in decades of murder and repression.¿) but ignores the ignoble activities of America¿s enemies. Perhaps most telling about his attitude toward America is his sentence: ¿Since World War II, Americans in their vast power and prosperity had been accustomed to being number one in all fields, certainly including education and technology; even the threat of the Cold War had not dampened their economic, military, and political self-confidence ¿ which many at home and abroad considered arrogance (emphasis added).¿ It is that arrogance that has made America great and the envy of the world. It is unfortunate that the publishers entrusted this important biography to an ideological journalist and fiction writer rather than an accredited historian. Wicker does not belong in the same class as other authors in the series particularly Remini, Wills, Diggins, and Brands.
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Posted November 25, 2008
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