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Thread: Ike's Bluff by Evan Thomas

  1. #1
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    Default Ike's Bluff by Evan Thomas

    While not a book about World War II, Ike's Bluff is a very interesting biography of Eisenhower as president of the US after the war. I was too young to have any opinion about Ike as president, and I grew up thinking about him as a genial old geezer if I thought about him at all.

    However, with all the reading I've done in the past few years about WWII, I had come to realize that genial old geezers don't generally get into West Point and don't generally end up coordinating Allied forces in a world war. That is where the bluff comes in.

    According to Thomas, Ike was a skilled, insightful, and brilliant bluffer. He was able to size up the enemy (in this case, the Soviet Union), and accurately discern what was empty Soviet rhetoric and what was truth. Of course, the U2 flights helped too, although the author reports that Eisenhower was uncomfortable with that program.

    Also interesting, I found, was that his tenure in office seems to be when the CIA decided to become an ungovernable entity.

    I can't say how accurate this biography is because I haven't read anything else about Eisenhower, but I would recommend this book as a well-written interesting read.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ike's Bluff by Evan Thomas

    Sounds similar to what I've read about Ike in previous books by Rick Atkinson in his "Liberation Trilogy" series. Ike seemed to be a very good 'general manager' type that was skilled at reading people and getting the most out of them. Certainly, being an ex-general helped him as commander-in-chief during a tumultuous times of The Cold War. I also think his dealings with Soviet military authorities gave him a good deal of insight into what the Kremlin was up to and to resist pressures of those crowing about a nonexistent "missile-gap" that was actually only true in the inverse - that the United States actually had a large advantage over the U.S.S.R. in terms of nuclear weaponry. He knew that those who were overly paranoid about the Soviets tended to be alarmists ignoring the many weaknesses in the Soviet economy and the fact they tended to be behind the West technologically, in most aspects, despite propaganda and national triumphs like Sputnik.

    Hence - Eisenhower's famous "military industrial complex" speech at the end of his terms...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ike's Bluff by Evan Thomas

    Yes, that speech was prescient. Ike was trying to rein in the budget while Congress was falling into the hands of the defense contractors.

    Another book that I really liked was The Candy Bombers by Andrei Cherny about the Berlin Airlift.

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