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Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
by Carlo D'Este
ISBN 0805056874 / 9780805056877 / 0-8050-5687-4
Publisher Holt Paperbacks
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There is hardly a shortage of books about Dwight Eisenhower, but Carlo D'Este's Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life stands tall in this forest by virtue of the author's insistence on a too-often forgotten rule of biographers: show--don't tell about--the subject. Though D'Este doesn't neglect Eisenhower's early years (his sketch of the man's rambunctious West Point years is hearteningly entertaining), the book concentrates on his military career, including his years of treading water in the Philippines. By far the most trenchant sections, however, deal with World War II (including a keen look at the little-discussed North African campaign.) We see Ike, who had a famous temper and, when angry, a most indelicate vocabulary, chain-smoking cigarettes and unable to sleep in the weeks leading to D-day; refusing--out of disgust for German atrocities--to be present at the signing of the articles of surrender; bantering, though his heart was heavy, with enlisted men; wrestling contentiously with MacArthur and Field Marshall Montgomery. We read excerpts of his letters to Mamie and are privy to, perhaps, his laying the groundwork for a political career. A Soldier's Life, long but brisk, sympathetic but not adoring, rigorous but never tedious, is a commendable biography. --H. O'Billovich [via]