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Describes the hostile maneuvering and bickering at the moment in 1952–1953 when power was to be handed from one to the other and somebody had to decide which hat to wear and who greeted whom As president each coped with McCarthyism the tormenting problems of race and the great issues of the emerging Cold War They brought the United States into a new pattern of world responsibility while being the first Americans to hold in their hands the awesome power of weapons capable of destroying civilizationReading their story is a reminder of the modern American story of ordinary men dealing with extraordinary pow. Interesting book but it was long Great perspectives on the dropping of the bomb in WW2 and the fact Eisenhower didn t agree with dropping it

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Two Americans

Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower consecutive presidents of the United States were midwesterners alike in many ways except that they also sharply differed  Born within six years of each other Truman in 1884 Eisenhower in 1890 they came from small towns in the Missouri–Mississippi River Valley in the midst of cows and wheat pigs and corn and grain elevators Both were grandsons of farmers and sons of forceful mothers and of fathers who knew failure; both were lower middle class received public school educations and were brought up in low church Protestant denominationsWilliam Lee Miller interweaves Truman. TWO AMERICANS TRUMAN EISENHOWER AND A DANGEROUS WORLDby William Lee MillerThis very readable book has two purposes it is a dual biography of our 33rd and 34th presidents as well as an impressive feat of interpretation and analysis Truman and Eisenhower were Middle Americans we are reminded Truman from Missouri and Ike from Kansas who became unlikely seminal figures of World War II and beyond Vice President Harry Truman assumed the presidency upon the death of FDR and saw the fall of Nazi Germany a few months later it was his decision to drop newly minted atomic bombs on Japan and thereby end the war with the Japanese Empire Dwight Eisenhower the military man rose to the position of the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe and was an architect of the successful D Day invasion the beginning of the end of the Third ReichTruman a Democrat was an unpopular president Part of the public s disenchantment with Harry was the fact he wasn t FDR he was plain spoken and an average joe not well known unlike the charismatic Roosevelt the man who had been president for over a decade Truman involved us in Korea a war or police action that sought to contain the spread of communism by countering Soviet backed North Korea s invasion of South Korea in 1950 This uickly became an unpopular war since Korea was backed by the Soviet Union and China entered the war on the side of the North American goals were limited Not total war which may have led to World War III but a police action repelling the North This irked many Americans who were accustomed to thinking total victory after WWII and didn t want to sacrifice their children to anything less When Truman dismissed the commanding general of the war for insubordination the very popular hero of the World War II Pacific theater Douglas MacArthur the president s approval ratings plummeted As president Truman s popularity was mostly in the basement occupied later by Richard Nixon and George W Bush at the end of their presidencies Eisenhower s political career was much different He was an immensely popular war hero whose popularity never seriously waned after he entered the political arena Initially his party affiliation was unknown Both Democrats and Republicans wanted him to head their presidential ticket When he decided to run as a Republican it was almost a forgone conclusion that he would bring a Republican back to the White House after decades of Democratic rule First however it took some deft political maneuvering for Ike s team to deny the nomination to the right wing candidate Robert Taft during the Republican convention of 1952 Eisenhower then increased his already solid appeal when as a former military giant he vowed to visit the Korean war front personally if elected What he saw there convinced him of the untenability of the conflict and he ended the war even if ambiguously within months of assuming the presidency As president Ike was a moderate Republican who previously had committed himself as a military man to most of Truman s foreign policy but was against the former president s liberal Fair Deal domestic policies At the end of Eisenhower s tenure it was perceived by some as mediocre and by many others as a welcome era of peace and prosperity Initially Truman as Ike s commander in chief admired General Eisenhower and sought his council The president even offered to help Eisenhower become president himself someday After Ike left the service and became the president of Columbia University Truman had enough confidence in him to ask if Ike would accept the new appointment of commander of NATO forces Ike accepted However Truman and Eisenhower had a falling out that left both men bitter and led to a highly publicized feud that wasn t thawed until the 1960sAuthor Miller has four concluding chapters of analysis Judging Presidents The Miasma of McCarthy Ike and Harry on Race and Bombs When Truman ran for President on his own in 1948 it was widely believed that he had no chance to retain the presidency such was his lack of popularity But the ever tenacious Harry created what was the greatest upset in presidential campaign history when he beat Thomas Dewey the heavily favored Republican candidate Much of the credit goes to Truman individually as he whistle stopped his way throughout the country at a blistering pace Even though Truman never achieved popular acclaim during his presidency the author notes in his chapter Judging Presidents the 33rd president later was acknowledged as a near great or even great president by historians and other scholars They looked back and saw his achievements meeting the test of time the Marshall Plan that sought to mitigate starvation in Europe after the war altruistic but also forward looking as curtailing Soviet expansion the response to the Soviet blockade of Berlin the Berlin airlift massive in its implementation that outmaneuvered the Soviets The North Atlantic Treaty the integration of the armed forces and the making of hard but necessary decisions such as the removal of MacArthur in Korea And I ll add the general public warmed up to Harry too After the Kennedy assassination and the controversial Warren Report Johnson s shady and tragic Vietnam initiatives and Nixon Americans fondly remembered the plain speaking The Buck Stops Here honest Give Em Hell Harry Eisenhower s historical track record is different The amiable Ike was generally well liked as president With the passage of time though historians decided that Ike unfortunately escalated the Cold War and had no moral courage to confront the issues of the day such as McCarthyism and racial segregation and otherwise was a mediocre president Miller points to a seminal article that resurrected Ike s reputation The Underestimation of Dwight Eisenhower by Murray Kempton Kempton argued that Ike was a complex thinker than he appeared on the surface especially at news conferences he was aggressive behind the scenes in his administration and not the complacent president he appeared to be to the public and that he was not a naive or bumbling decision maker he was decisive Another revisionist Fred Greenstein argued that Ike had a hidden hand style of leadership as president In this view the Eisenhower administration took many actions outside of public view As Miller writes So the distinctiveness of Eisenhower s leadership as seen by the new scholarship was that it was in considerable part unseen by the public and that in his hidden activity he was a conscious and effective politician In other words there was to Ike as president than thoughtThe chapter The Miasma of McCarthy focuses on what the author terms the mephitic atmosphere known as McCarthyism that engulfed the nation Right wing Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin initiated a series of congressional witchhunts to root out alleged Communists in the US Government the film and television industries and the US military As the author recognizes the powerful McCarthy s methods and tactics were dishonest and souless in a word evil and led to the ruin of many careers and lives Miller adds An essential ingredient in McCarthy s power was the support by conservative Republican senators for what he was doing The Ike and Harry on Race chapter recounts the efforts to move the country forward during the decades of awakening civil rights issues It was a time of the desegregation of the military the Brown vs the Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court decision the southern states resistance by force to desegregation court decisions the end of discrimination based on race in the federal bureaucracy and And the chapter on Bombs concerns itself with the dawn of the nuclear age the advent of weaponry so destructive as to be virtually unusableThe chapters on McCarthy race and bombs are Miller at his analytical best He gives us solid analysis of how both Presidents handled these trying issues with varying degrees of success TWO AMERICANS is well worth the read just for these three chapters alone

William Lee Miller Ñ 9 read

’s and Eisenhower’s life stories which then also becomes the story of their nation as it rose to great power They had contrasting experiences in the Great War Truman the haberdasher to be led men in battle; Eisenhower the supreme commander to be did not Between the wars Truman was the uintessential politician and Eisenhower the thoroughgoing anti politician Truman knew both the successes and woes of the public life while Eisenhower was seuestered in the peacetime army Then in the wartime 1940s these two men were abruptly lifted above dozens of others to become leaders of the great national effortsMiller. I was hoping to learn a lot about these two great presidents but the story just didn t hold my interest Lots of facts about their lives and they were indeed incredible people But the book just doesn t hold together or tell a story that keeps you interested

10 thoughts on “Two Americans

  1. says:

    Truman And EisenhowerHarry Truman 1884 1972 served as the Democratic 33d president of the United States from 1945 1953 while Dwight Eisenhower 1890 1969 served as a Republican as the 34th president from 1953 1961 Both leaders had many similarities and many differences Both played critical roles in the tumultuous period following WW II and of course particularly in Eisenhower's case in the War itself William Lee Miller's new book Two Ameri

  2. says:

    This is a book well worth reading; however it really needs a good edit I learned so much about the two men and the times in which they lived They were very different yet had so much in common They were only six years different in age and both contributed so much to this country I hadn't realized that Truman actually led troops in WW I; while

  3. says:

    TWO AMERICANS TRUMAN EISENHOWER AND A DANGEROUS WORLDby William Lee MillerThis very readable book has two purposes it is a dual biography of our

  4. says:

    I was hoping to learn a lot about these two great presidents but the story just didn't hold my interest Lots of facts about their lives and they were indeed incredible people But the book just doesn't hold together or tell a story th

  5. says:

    In desperate need of an editor or at least a assertive one Miller tends to ramble and repeat himself making for a plodding read

  6. says:

    Interesting read on the lives of two former presidents their roles in Am History

  7. says:

    I may be biased but two of my favorite presidents to study who represent the Midwest I enjoyed this book

  8. says:

    Interesting important history but not well organized and in need of a trim

  9. says:

    Interesting book but it was long Great perspectives on the dropping of the bomb in WW2 and the fact Eisenhower didn't agree with dropping it

  10. says:

    Interesting book for Midwesterners to read both of these men were from their respective states of Kansas and Missouri but