News & Politics

Book Review: “Ike’s Bluff” by Evan Thomas

Thomas' book examines how Eisenhower, at the dawn of the atomic age, kept the peace.

Dwight Eisenhower wasn’t such a do-nothing presidential
caretaker after all, Evan Thomas concludes in Ike’s
Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World.
Focusing on the former general’s foreign policy, the book examines
how, at the dawn of the atomic age, one of our greatest wartime leaders
kept the peace. As Ike said later, “The United States never lost a Solider
or a foot of ground in my administration. . . . People asked how it
happened. By God, it didn’t just happen.” The story of how it “didn’t just
happen” is more interesting than it might first seem, with Thomas making a
cogent argument that it was Ike’s appearance of belligerence that made
Russia blink and kept the bombers on the runways and the missiles in their
silos through several world crises. Would the D-Day hero have used nuclear
weapons in China, Korea, or Eastern Europe? Only Ike knew. But Thomas
comes as close as anyone has to finding the answer.

John Wilwol can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter at @johnwilwol.

This article appears in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Little, Brown and Company


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