Last year, I wrote here about David and Julie Eisenhower’s book Going Home To Glory, which described the last eight years of President Eisenhower’s life, partly as seen first-hand by his grandson David, partly through the accounts of others in interviews and the documents of that period. The book received excellent reviews and sold quite well.
Going Home To Glory proved to be the first of several notable volumes that have been published, or will soon appear, about Ike during this decade. The others that come to mind started in March with David A. Nichols’s Eisenhower 1956, an account of the dramatic weeks in October 1956 during which the thirty-fourth President took on the Suez Crisis and the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary simultaneously and reminded the world again of his coolheadedness and sure judgement in times of stress and danger. This well-researched volume was followed, last week, by Jim Newton’s Eisenhower: The White House Years, which, unlike the books about Ike in the last decade which mostly focused on his career in World War II, takes a new look at the eight years of his Presidency. Next February will see the release of a 900-page full-scale biography, Eisenhower In War And Peace, by Jean Edward Smith, the historian famed for his books about John Marshall, Ulysses S. Grant, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And, perhaps when RN’s 100th birthday comes on January 9, 2013, or not long after, former New Yorker editor Jeffrey Frank’s book examining the relationship of two Presidents, Eisenhower and Nixon, will reach the stores.
(Here, I should note that sometime this fall I’ll write at further length about the Nichols and Newton books, which I recently bought, since both contain substantial material about Ike’s Vice-President.)
Going Home To Glory was published in paperback this month, and last night David Eisenhower discussed it in a town named Philadelphia. Not the one in his native Pennsylvania, where he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications and lives nearby with his wife Julie, but New Philadelphia, Ohio, a town in the east-central part of the Buckeye State, where he spoke at the local campus of Kent State University.
With the appearance of this book in paperback, David and Julie made a joint appearance last month in Radnor, Pennsylvania – which can seen in its entirety in this clip – and soon after David talked about it at the Kansas Book Festival. His appearance in Ohio is described in this article from the New Philadelphia Times-Reporter.
In his book, David tells a number of anecdotes that remind the reader that, when at home in Gettysburg after leaving the White House, Ike was a loving husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather – but when he felt that sternness was called for, he was not slow to apply it:
One of the more humorous stories Eisenhower recalled was how he was fired by his grandfather from his job on the Gettysburg farm.
“I was working on the farm and we (workers) had an ongoing card game over the lunch hour,” he said. “We were playing honeymoon bridge and decided to keep playing because we thought ‘The General’ — that’s what we called him was downtown.”
As it turns out, Eisenhower had returned and walked in where the game was going on and everybody froze.
Eisenhower said he was fired and told to return to his home, which was next door. The worst part for David was that he had a 4 p.m. golf date with his grandfather later that same day.
“He did pick me up, but he didn’t talk to me the entire drive to the golf course,” said Eisenhower. “We got to the golf course and there was silence on hole one … silence on hole two … silence on hole 3. Finally he breaks his silence and says he allows his associates to make one mistake a year, and by the fourth hole, I was rehired.”
Reading the reporter’s account of this story, though, is really no substitute for way David and Julie recount it in Going Home To Glory – a book that I recommend now as highly as I did last year, and, when writing about the Newton and Nichols books, I’ll also discuss it, since it complements the story that they tell.