Truman, Eisenhower and a Dangerous World
By William Lee Miller
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307742643, 416pp.)
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
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From William Lee Miller, the highly regarded biographer of Abraham Lincoln, a riveting dual examination of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower that explores the similarities and equally striking differences of two remarkable men in the context of mid-twentieth-century American culture and politics.
Two Americans weaves together the life stories of Truman and Eisenhower, showing how these future presidents, born six years apart from each other in small farming towns, were emblematic of their Midwestern upbringings and their generation. Miller also shows how their markedly different life experiences during World War I and between the world wars would shape their choices and the roles they played in the politics of the time, as Truman became the quintessential politician, and Eisenhower, the thoroughgoing anti-politician. Their personalities come alive in vividly described scenes of their collaboration during the war-torn 1940s; their dual, but different, roles in bringing the war to an end and shaping the postwar world; their growing disapproval of each other; and, finally, in 1952, the hostile bickering and maneuvering that characterized the passing of presidential power from one to the other.
William Lee Miller was a Scholar in Ethics and Institutions at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, and taught at Yale, Smith College, and Indiana University. His previous books include Arguing About Slavery, Lincoln’s Virtues, and President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman. He died in 2012.
“Absorbing . . . a historical double-decker. . . . Miller develops [Truman and Eisenhower’s] often uncomfortable, but unavoidable relationship with rich context and resonance.”
“Deft. . . . Insightful. . . . This is a book for those who enjoy history and cherish its ironies. . . . William Lee Miller is a scholar with a light-handed style as anecdotal as it is academic. He keeps his subjects off pedestals and firmly grounded as he relates the momentous events that confronted them and how each rose in stature to respond, for they were two surprisingly ordinary men. . . . Miller delights in telling stories. . . . Stories told affectionately with insight and sensitivity, messages ringing with relevance for us today.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
“Intriguing. . . . Miller is keen analyzing both politics and policy; he frequently turns a deft phrase. . . . Two Americans admirably succeeds in conveying [Truman and Eisenhower’s] probity and patriotism.”
“An enthralling book.”
—History Book Club
“A rewarding study. . . . Miller aptly and in clear prose describes the rise of both men and outlines their policies as president."
—Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains
“Miller offers lively, well-presented parallel biographies. . . . The author is primarily interested in comparing the experiences of these two men as they rose through the ranks of their chosen professions, and their approaches to government as exemplified by several specific issues. . . . Entertaining reading for presidential-history buffs.”