(2/8)The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s, by William I Hitchcock (segment B )

Nov 04, 09:26 PM

Photo: During a sort of interregnum in Ike’s career, he was appointed president of Columbia University. An anecdote from that time was that, after his installation, he wrote a memo to all faculty members saying, in effect, There no doubt are some inefficiencies incorporated into the structure; please write to tell me what problems you encounter and we’ll sort them out.

He was awash in responses. He studied them all, then issued a manifesto explaining how, henceforth, everything would be done. As a general, he was confident that his academic troops would obey. A long time elapsed. Not a scintilla of his edict was followed. He was mystified. Eventually, someone explained to him that persnickety professors don’t take well to anyone else’s opinion on anything. Fortunately, he was soon enough elected president of the nation and left the battle to Grayson Kirk.

Here, a picture of the then-president of Columbia University, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in discussion on The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, founded in 1951 by Ike as the Institute of War and Peace Studies, a research center that’s part of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in New York (formerly SIA). It was led for its first 25 years by Professor William T. R. Fox, and given its current name in 2003. By its own description, the institute's researchers analyze "the political, military, historical, legal, economic, moral, psychological, and philosophical dimensions of international relations."

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The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s ; by William I Hitchcock “

A page-turner masterpiece.” —Jim Lehrer

In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. The historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times. A former general, Ike kept the peace: he ended the Korean War, avoided a war in Vietnam, adroitly managed a potential confrontation with China, and soothed relations with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. He guided the Republican Party to embrace central aspects of the New Deal like Social Security. He thwarted the demagoguery of McCarthy and he advanced the agenda of civil rights for African Americans.

As part of his strategy to wage, and win, the Cold War, Eisenhower expanded American military power, built a fearsome nuclear arsenal and launched the space race. In his famous Farewell Address, he acknowledged that Americans needed such weapons in order to keep global peace—but he also admonished his citizens to remain alert to the potentially harmful influence of the “military-industrial complex.

” From 1953 to 1961, no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA and Defense Department, and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower’s close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this “do-nothing” president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had.