The Sweet Music of Dwight D. Eisenhower

Mandate for Change, 1953-1956. The White House Years, Volume I

by Dwight D. Eisenhower
Doubleday, 612 pp., $6.95

There are no surprises in the Eisenhower memoirs. Any American who in the 1950’s had his normal daily fill of two or three newspapers a day, news reports every hour on the hour, the news on television at twelve, three, six, and eleven, the commentators on television, the interviews with the President and his cabinet and sometimes even Mr. Hagerty on television, the press conferences on television, the editorials, Mr. Lippmann, Messrs. Alsop, Mr. Reston, Mr. Krock, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Drummond, not to forget “Meet The Press,” “World Report,” “What Washington Thinks,” the gossip in Winchell, the real story in Time, the columns in Newsweek, the closeups in Life, the Washington lowdown in Hedda Hopper and Hy Gardner—will find it all familiar, especially if since the 1950’s he has read Sherman Adams on Eisenhower, Robert J. Donovan on Eisenhower, Merlo J. Pusey and Marquis Childs and Emmet Hughes on Eisenhower.

Everything “political”—which in current usage means the buzz surrounding eminent persons in Washington—is now constantly reported and interpreted by the armies of professional communicators who often work hand in hand with the eminent persons who are themselves busy establishing their image in history with the Rankes and Toynbees of the Newspaper Guild. The Kennedy Administration has, in matters of self-exculpation and self-glorification, already shown itself to be to the Eisenhower Administration what “Telstar” is to Western Union. The usual “leak” to a friendly correspondent by an official hopeful of inspiring a little action in Congress has been replaced by a courting of writers, editorialists, journalists, historians, and poets so open that the present administration began writing its history before it made any. But even in the days of clumsy Charley Wilson and Ezra Taft Benson and Arthur Summerfield—simple corporation presidents and auto dealers who were never suspected of reading Lord David Cecil and Stendhal—there was such a deluge of “news” about what Charley Wilson had said to Ike and how Ezra Taft Benson was in direct touch with the Almighty on the farm problem and what “Jerry” Persons thought and “Bob” Taft is supposed to have said and now “Sherm” bawled out the Congressman and what “Foster” really said about the President’s not doing his “homework” that it turns out now that the generalissimo of the Business Man’s Administration, the commander-in-chief of the country in the last days of McCarthy’s terror, knew little more than the rest of us did, and that much of what he has to tell us the reporters and inside dopesters told us first. Indeed, the author acknowledges that his own initial drafts of this book were so sketchy—“contained little more than those things that left rather vivid impressions in my memory”—that his researcher had to look up “much in the way of facts and statistics” to stimulate “recall of my attitudes and thoughts in those years.”

The President of the United States for eight years had to look up the public record that most of us more or less know in order to find out…

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