The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Book Reviews
NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Hero and Politician. By Robert F. Burk. (Boston:
Twayne Publishers, 1986. Pp. 207. Foreword, preface, acknowledg-
ments, photographs, chronology, notes, bibliographic essay, index.
$19.95-)
Robert F. Burk offers us a brief and balanced biography of Dwight D.
Eisenhower. The brevity is remarkable in view of the fact that Burk
covers Ike's entire career, with only two of the eleven chapters devoted
to his presidency. While this results in a very compressed view of his
achievements in office, they are rightly seen as the culmination of his
long years of military service. The balance is equally important. Rather
than writing a biting critique or a fawning account, Burk strives to por-
tray Eisenhower dispassionately. Thus he views Ike as successful in the
short term in managing the cold war and maintaining tranquillity in
the 195os, but at the cost of postponing decisions on such vital issues
as the nuclear-arms race and civil rights that would haunt the nation in
the turbulent sixties.
The author is best at delineating the essence of Eisenhower's decep-
tive character. On the surface a simple, uncomplicated man, Eisen-
hower was in reality a far more complex individual. Two traits stand
out-his driving ambition, completely cloaked behind his calm de-
meanor and relaxed grin, and his innate skill at public relations, which
proved to be his greatest asset both as a general and a politician. In
Burk's most interesting chapter, he shows how these qualities helped
Ike win the presidency in 1952. On the one hand, Eisenhower main-
tained that he was not interested in becoming president, asserting that
he would respond only to the call of duty if the people insisted that he
run. This public-relations ploy, however, disguised a powerful desire
for office that had led him to begin an active quest for the White House
after Truman's unexpected victory in 1948. With consummate skill, Ike
answered the call of duty, leaving nothing to chance as he played the
role of the reluctant warrior who bows to the public clamor to lead his
nation at a time of great need.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed December 18, 2014.