Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World

Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World

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by William Lee Miller
     
 

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From the highly regarded biographer of Abraham Lincoln, a riveting dual examination of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, exploring the two men's remarkable similarities and equally striking differences in the context of mid-twentieth-century American culture and politics.
 
William Lee Miller makes clear that the similarities between these two statesmen

Overview

From the highly regarded biographer of Abraham Lincoln, a riveting dual examination of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, exploring the two men's remarkable similarities and equally striking differences in the context of mid-twentieth-century American culture and politics.
 
William Lee Miller makes clear that the similarities between these two statesmen were emblematic of their Midwestern upbringings and their generation, but that within the framework of similarity, they differed markedly in their shaping experiences and choices, and in the roles they played in the high politics of the time. Miller examines their contrasting experiences during World War I and between the world wars. He shows us Truman, the quintessential politician, and Eisenhower, the thoroughgoing anti-politician, in explicit and implicit collaboration during the war-torn 1940s; their dual, but different, roles in bringing the war to an end and shaping the postwar world; their growing disapproval of each other; and, finally, in 1952, the passing of presidential power from one to the other.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Absorbing . . . a historical double-decker. . . . Miller develops [Truman and Eisenhower’s] often uncomfortable, but unavoidable relationship with rich context and resonance.”
The Star-Ledger 

“Deft. . . . Insightful. . . . This is a book for those who enjoy history and cherish its ironies. . . . William Lee Miller is a scholar with a light-handed style as anecdotal as it is academic. He keeps his subjects off pedestals and firmly grounded as he relates the momentous events that confronted them and how each rose in stature to respond, for they were two surprisingly ordinary men. . . . Miller delights in telling stories. . . . Stories told affectionately with insight and sensitivity, messages ringing with relevance for us today.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

“Intriguing. . . . Miller is keen analyzing both politics and policy; he frequently turns a deft phrase. . . . Two Americans admirably succeeds in conveying [Truman and Eisenhower’s] probity and patriotism.”
—Cleveland.com

“An enthralling book.”
—History Book Club

“A rewarding study. . . . Miller aptly and in clear prose describes the rise of both men and outlines their policies as president."
Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains

“Miller offers lively, well-presented parallel biographies. . . . The author is primarily interested in comparing the experiences of these two men as they rose through the ranks of their chosen professions, and their approaches to government as exemplified by several specific issues. . . . Entertaining reading for presidential-history buffs.”
Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A comparison of the origins and careers of two presidents from the middle of the 20th century. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower were both past 50 when each was catapulted to fame and power after decades of diligent but largely unnoticed public service. They came from conservative small-town roots--Truman from Missouri forebears with strong Confederate sympathies, Eisenhower from pacifist Mennonite ancestry. Truman, however, was a lifelong partisan Democrat; Eisenhower had been trained as part of the officer class to look down on politicians and had no affiliation with a political party until shortly before running for president. Truman relished the president's role as a partisan political leader, while Eisenhower emphasized that of an apparently apolitical head of state. Regrettably, the 1952 campaign poisoned the earlier cooperative relationship between the two men, as exemplified by Eisenhower's childish snubs on the day of his inauguration. They came to power when the United States was adjusting to the breakup of the alliance that won World War II and formulating the Cold War policy of containment. The development of the hydrogen bomb by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union led to a balance of terror that avoided another all-out war at the price of keeping the world on the edge of nuclear annihilation. Distinguished historian Miller (President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman, 2008, etc.) offers lively, well-presented parallel biographies, though the book is superficial in comparison with recent exhaustive works on each man. The author is primarily interested in comparing the experiences of these two men as they rose through the ranks of their chosen professions, and their approaches to government as exemplified by several specific issues: McCarthyism, in which neither president distinguished himself; civil rights, in which Miller finds Eisenhower severely wanting despite his use of troops in Little Rock; and their attitudes toward the possible use of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. Nothing groundbreaking, but entertaining reading for presidential-history buffs.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307595645
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.42(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Absorbing . . . a historical double-decker. . . . Miller develops [Truman and Eisenhower’s] often uncomfortable, but unavoidable relationship with rich context and resonance.”
The Star-Ledger 

“Deft. . . . Insightful. . . . This is a book for those who enjoy history and cherish its ironies. . . . William Lee Miller is a scholar with a light-handed style as anecdotal as it is academic. He keeps his subjects off pedestals and firmly grounded as he relates the momentous events that confronted them and how each rose in stature to respond, for they were two surprisingly ordinary men. . . . Miller delights in telling stories. . . . Stories told affectionately with insight and sensitivity, messages ringing with relevance for us today.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

“Intriguing. . . . Miller is keen analyzing both politics and policy; he frequently turns a deft phrase. . . . Two Americans admirably succeeds in conveying [Truman and Eisenhower’s] probity and patriotism.”
—Cleveland.com

“An enthralling book.”
—History Book Club

“Miller offers lively, well-presented parallel biographies. . . . The author is primarily interested in comparing the experiences of these two men as they rose through the ranks of their chosen professions, and their approaches to government as exemplified by several specific issues. . . . Entertaining reading for presidential-history buffs.”
Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

WILLIAM LEE MILLER, Scholar in Ethics and Institutions at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, has taught at Yale, Smith College, and Indiana University. His previous books include Arguing About Slavery, Lincoln's Virtues, and President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman.

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Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Not-James-Wood More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader of historical non-fiction, I find there are two key ingredients in a successful book of this type: thorough research and knowledge of the subject, and the ability to take the facts and figures and make them enjoyable to read. Mr. Miller succeeds admirably with the former, but comes up considerably short on the latter. The book contains a wealth of information on Truman and Eisenhower, their families, their context in various periods of history, and the relationships that brought them together, tore them apart, and brought them together again; virtually everything you could want to now about the two men and their impact on this country and the world. When writing in his own words, using his own opinions and reaching his own conclusions, Mr. Miller does fine with the prose. However these parts of the book are far too few and far between, sandwiched among interminable lengthy quotes and segments of other writer's work, interviews, opinions and conclusions. I may not be qualified to criticize, never having written enjoyable historical non-fiction myself, but to use one of too many quotes employed by Mr. Miller himself, "I know it when I see it".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written juxtaposition of the two great leaders during an extremely difficult period of the Unites States post war and cold war periods. Much insight to the elections of both.