Eisenhower, John S(heldon) D(oud) 1922-
EISENHOWER, John S(heldon) D(oud) 1922-
PERSONAL: Born August 3, 1922, in Denver, CO; son of Dwight David (General of the Army and thirty-fourth president of the United States) and Mamie Geneva (Doud) Eisenhower; married Barbara Jean Thompson, June 10, 1947 (divorced, 1986); married Joanne Thompson, April 9, 1990; children: (first marriage) Dwight David II, Barbara Anne, Susan Elaine, Mary Jean. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: U.S. Military Academy, B.S., 1944; Columbia University, M.A., 1950; U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, graduate, 1955. Politics: Independent. Hobbies and other interests: Airplane piloting.
ADDRESSES: Home—27318 Morris Rd., Trappe, MD 21673.
CAREER: U.S. Army, cadet, 1941-44, regular officer, 1944-63 (resigned commission as lieutenant colonel, 1963), reserve officer, 1963—, brigadier general, 1974—; spent 1965-69 writing his book on World War II; U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Brussels, 1969-71. Served with First U.S. Army, Europe, World War II, later with Army of Occupation in Europe, 1945-47; instructor in English at U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, 1948-51; battalion and division officer in Korea, 1952-53; member of War Plans Division, Army General Staff, Washington, DC, 1958-61; member of diplomatic council for board of governors, USO, 1983-85. Chair, Pennsylvania Citizens for Nixon, 1968, Interagency Classification Review Committee, 1972-73, and President's Advisory Committee on Refugees, 1975—. Academy Life Insurance Co., Atlanta, GA, chairman of the board. Member of advisory council, National Archives, 1974-77; trustee of Alumni Federation of Columbia University, 1976-80; Eisenhower College, Seneca Falls, NY; and of Eisenhower Exchange fellowships.
MEMBER: Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired, Capitol Hill Club.
AWARDS, HONORS: Military—Legion of Merit; Bronze Star; Combat Infantryman's Badge; Belgium Order of the Crown Grand Cross; Chungmu Distinguished Service Medal (Korea). Civilian—L.H.D., Northwood Institute, 1970; Graduate Faculties Alumni Award for excellence, Columbia University, 1970.
Strictly Personal (memoir), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1974.
(Editor) Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letters to Mamie, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.
Allies: Pearl Harbor to D-Day, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1982.
So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848, Random House (New York, NY), 1989.
Intervention!: The United States and the MexicanRevolution, 1913-1917, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1993.
Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1999.
Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in WorldWar I, Free Press (New York, NY), 2001.
General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence, Free Press (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: The son of President and Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, John S. D. Eisenhower also served his country with distinction during World War II and the Korean War; he later became a student of military history and an author. Reviewing Eisenhower's first book, The Bitter Woods: A Comprehensive Study of the War in Europe in Saturday Review, Robert Leckie declared the author a "top-flight military historian." Drawing on personal experience as well as German and American sources, Eisenhower chronicles the events leading up to and following the Battle of the Bulge, Adolf Hitler's last great attempt to turn the course of the war in Germany's favor. According to Leckie, "few writers on either side of the conflict are better qualified to tell this story. Himself a staff officer of that First Army against whose units the attack was launched, son of the Supreme Commander, who met in the Bulge the crisis of both his 'crusade' and his career, John Eisenhower reveals in this study not only his intimacy with the members of the Allied High Command but great diligence in consulting German archives and interviewing those German officers who are still living. [This work] may stand as the definitive account of the critical battle of the European Theater."
Gordon A. Craig, however, writing in New York Times Book Review, felt that the book "suffers in comparison with previous books on the subject. . . . It is too long; the author is slow in getting down to his subject; he is, particularly in the early pages, repetitive." Despite these criticisms, Craig credited Eisenhower with reconstructing "a complex series of events that involved simultaneous attacks by six German corps along a seventy-mile front with a clarity and attention to detail that are a tribute both to his hard and careful work in the sources and to his personal examination of the terrain. He has made the battle his own—and, particularly when he is dealing with small-unit actions, his account conveys an excitement that is hard to resist." "With an amazing . . . grasp of detail," said Charles Poore in New York Times, "[Eisenhower] tells us what was happening everywhere, at almost every level, within the German as well as the Allied lines. In short, he has bitten off an awful lot, and he chews it into the suburbs of infinity."
Eisenhower followed The Bitter Woods with Allies: Pearl Harbor to D-Day, which is based on a manuscript given the author by his father before the latter's death. The work examines, in the words of a critic for the New York Times Book Review, "the personalities who shaped the Allied cause during World War II," including such figures as Churchill, Stalin, Marshall, and de Gaulle. "John Eisenhower," the critic asserted, "has expanded [his father's] monograph into a lengthy, satisfying history that is at once colorful and clear."
Several of Eisenhower's other books have drawn in various ways on material from his father. In 1978, for example, he edited and published a collection of his father's correspondence, Letters to Mamie; more recently, he wrote about the former president from his unique point of view in 2003's General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence. As the title indicates, the biography focuses on Dwight Eisenhower's years in the military, and not on his presidency. The author, who occasionally served as a staff officer under his father when the senior Eisenhower was commanding troops in Europe, reveals the general's relationships with such historic figures as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, and General George Patton. Critics admired the fair-handed approach Eisenhower takes. As a Publishers Weekly writer noted, "The author paints no one in rosy hues, not even his father, and his research puts them all in their proper context." New York Times Book Review contributor Max Boot described General Ike as a "loving portrait" that deservedly paints its subject as, in John Eisenhower's words, "one of the most successful military commanders of all time."
Eisenhower has also written his own memoirs, published as Strictly Personal in 1974, but his military histories have generally received more attention. Among these are three books on the United States and Mexico. While reading nonfiction about General Winfield Scott's involvement in the Mexican War, Eisenhower was inspired to write So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848, a major work about the war that "dismembered the huge if lightly populated Mexican Empire and increased the size of the United States by nearly 50 percent," according to Michael Kilian in the Detroit Free Press. The conflict "was as controversial in its day as the Vietnam War has been in ours," Kilian added. The title comes from Mexican President Porfirio Diaz's lament, "Alas, poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States!"
Critics have remarked that So Far From God is an important book for a number of reasons. Robert W. Johannsen wrote in Chicago's Tribune Books: "Graphically and suspensefully, Eisenhower recounts the long and arduous marches, the tactical maneuvers, the epic engagements . . . and the desperate, hard-fought battles in the Valley of Mexico. It was, Eisenhower points out, a dirty war, costly to both sides. Using the letters and diaries of the soldiers themselves, he has captured the participants' suffering." Furthermore, "the story of this 'dirty little war' is splendidly narrated . . . Not only do his background and special expertise provide graphic and detailed descriptions of the battles themselves, but he offers insightful portraits of the many colorful personalities who crowd the pages of this book," observed Robert V. Remini in the Washington Post Book World. The author excels, according to Remini, "in explaining American success despite the interferences from Washington, the lack of resources, the danger of disease and the vast distances involved in transporting thousands of men to the war zone."
So Far from God puts the Mexican War into a new light. Often considered a scarcely justifiable act of military aggression, the conquering of the territory that now comprises the southwestern states was a key to the United States' survival, Eisenhower maintains. European powers were eyeing Mexico's northern regions and were aware of its military weakness. "For Americans the thought of a hostile, European-controlled monarchy on the southern border of their democratic experiment was frightening indeed," Johannsen related. Therefore, Eisenhower reasons, Americans can be proud of the regulars and the volunteers who fought in it. Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Ferol Egan concluded, "For those who want to grasp the military and political causes of this invasion of our neighbor south of the border, Eisenhower's history is an excellent source."
Eisenhower followed So Far from God with Intervention!: The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917. The Mexican Revolution was a complicated time of political unrest in that country when the office of president was exchanged violently several times. After Francisco I. Madero overthrew the thirty-three-year-old regime of Porfirio Diaz, he was murdered after only a few months in office; Victoriano Huerta, his successor, was subsequently overthrown by Venustiano Carranza in 1917, and Carranza was assassinated in 1920 to be replaced by Alvaro Obregon, whose rise to the presidency marked the end of this long period of unrest. During the 1910s, several factions strove for power, and the United States became involved in two misguided forays into Mexican territory, including an occupation of Veracruz and an illfated hunt for the rebel Pancho Villa that gave rise to many ill feelings among Mexicans for the Americans, some of which still linger today. Eisenhower's book makes it clear, however, that the United States' role in the Mexican Revolution did nothing to influence the course of events, and that the eventual outcome was purely the result of Mexico working out its own political problems. While Historian reviewer Stephen G. Rabe found the book less than comprehensive in its scholarly research, and he was disappointed that Eisenhower did not put America's intervention in Mexico into context with its overall relationship with Latin America, the critic complimented the author for how he "expertly analyzes the key battles of the period" and felt that he was right to point out how "unfortunate" U.S. intervention was. Kenneth Maxwell furthermore attested in a Foreign Affairs article that Intervention! "provides a sympathetic and cogent account of events and personalities in this critical period."
The subject that originally inspired Eisenhower to write about Mexico, General Winfield Scott, is finally covered two books later in Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott. Scott was involved in the Veracruz occupation in Mexico, but his military career spanned many more conflicts than that, as Eisenhower explains. The general, who served in wars ranging from the War of 1812 to the Mexican War and the Civil War, as well as being the officer in charge of relocating the Cherokees to Oklahoma, was a colorful and very humanly flawed figure. Eisenhower describes him in his glory moments, such as when he became a hero in 1812, and his less admirable moments, such as his contentious relationship with various politicians and his reputation for bluster that earned him the moniker "Old Fuss and Feathers." Critics generally applauded Eisenhower's thorough portrayal. For example, a Publishers Weekly contributor declared it "a first-rate biography," and Alan C. Aimone, writing in Civil War History, called it "a joy to read" and "a welcomed readable biography."
With 2001's Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I, Eisenhower returned to war in Europe and how the Americans, instead of becoming integrated into European forces as was the original plan, managed to stay autonomous as the American Expeditionary Force to influence the course of history in remarkable ways. "This well-written work demonstrates how a small, ill-equipped force grew into an awesome fighting machine," according to Library Journal writer John Carver, who also praised the book for being "soundly researched."
Eisenhower once told CA: "I write principally for selfish reasons; I feel better when I have a continuing outlet for expressing ideas. Aside from the occasional book introduction and book review, I write generally on subjects unfamiliar to me. The Bitter Woods (1969) pertained to the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, December, 1944, a battle I read about while back in the States. Allies (1982) dealt with the Mediterranean Theater of War, World War II; I was a cadet when those events were transpiring.
"I am not a scholar nor am I much of an original researcher. I use academic format only to verify facts. My objective is to put in simple, readable form those periods of history that are on the record but written in dull form. I try to popularize aspects of history that Americans should have some knowledge of but usually do not. The Mexican War fits handily in that category." He added, "Like many other writers, I would like to try something else, in my case, to branch out from the military. I am afraid, however, that I am confined to nonfiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1989.
Civil War History, June, 1999, Alan C. Aimone, review of Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott, p. 161.
Detroit Free Press, April 19, 1989.
Foreign Affairs, July-August, 1994, Kenneth Maxwell, review of Intervention!: The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917, p. 173.
Historian, spring, 1995, Stephen G. Rabe, review of Intervention!, p. 602.
Library Journal, April 1, 2001, John Carver, review of Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I, p. 113; June 1, 2003, Mark Ellis, review of General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence, p. 138.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 25, 1989.
New Leader, April 3, 1989, Selden Rodman, review of So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848, p. 20.
New York Times, January 23, 1969; April 5, 1989.
New York Times Book Review, February 9, 1969; October 24, 1982; April 2, 1989; September 7, 2003, Max Boot, "A Soldier First," p. 27.
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 6, 1975.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, spring, 1997, Travis Beal Jacobs, review of Intervention!, p. 373.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1993, review of Intervention!, p. 54; November 10, 1997, review of Agent of Destiny, p. 63; April 7, 2003, review of General Ike, p. 55.
Saturday Review, January 25, 1969.
Times Literary Supplement, January 15, 1970.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 9, 1989.
Washington Post Book World, March 26, 1989.