The view that it was pointless to capture Berlin because the Yalta agreement had already assigned it to Joseph Stalin does not withstand analysis. AS FDR's last letter to Stalin angrily noted, Stalin had already violated those agreements, thus rendering them null and void.
If we had captured Berlin, It almost certain that Pres. TRuman, with massive public support, would have surrendered to Soviet demands.
I wish the heck they would limit the memorial to a statue. DC is starting to look like the Roman Forum in its heyday and we know how that turned out.
He also should have chosen Patton instead of Bradley since Patton was the best strategist the Americans had.
As for being President Eisenhower's mistake was in being a Republican in an age when most of the historians and most of the press are Democrats. These people didn't care to understand Eisenhower or calm and in control demeanor, all of which was calculated to show the Russians that nothing on the American side was out of control.
The same media that didn't like Ike, loved the 'whiz kids' like McNamara who got us involved in Viet Nam, which these people, in their ignorance of war, thought they could win using skills making and selling cars (!). The same people who called them whiz kids later were the first to abandon Johnson and then roasted Nixon on Vietnam. Thank god these people or their successors are day by day losing power.
How could you not like Ike - the man was an adult, from a generation the likes of which we simply don't have today.
Another good thing about Ike was his fiscal restraint. The percentage increase in the national debt during his years in office was lower than any other president who came after him with the exception of JFK(who was only in office a short time).
How does any responsible historian completely ignore Fidel Castro?
I always admired Eisenhower (in retrospect). I remember reading part of a letter that he wrote to Mammy. He said that as a result of things happening in WWII, he might be relieved of his command, and that this was to be expected. Unlike so many politicians of today Ike showed amazing resolve, forethought, and patience. I guess what I liked about him the most is that, agree with him or not, Eisenhower was the real deal. He didn't have the suave, sophistication, arrogance, or ersatz humor of many 20th century presidents, but he was, in my mind, simply thoroughly qualified to be president and carried out his responsibilities with integrity while generating the well-deserved respect of the American people. If our last three presidents have proven anything, it's that we need less coolness, arrogance, and spin doctors in the White House and more serious and honest men. I hope Ike gets a memorial befitting his true character, but if he doesn’t he would be the kind of man who would understand.
As you say, Eisenhower was not "a great battlefield manager." He was not a brilliant strategist, either. At least three times (during the Sicily campaign, in Sardinia, and worst of all during the push North from Normandy) he sat by, allowing substantial German forces to escape unharmed and fight another day. But probably his worst move was to allow Montgomery's action at Arnhem while ignoring the urgent need to secure allied supply access via Antwerp. These two goofs may well have prolonged the war.
"he acquired an innate understanding of personal relationships, a mastery of diplomacy..."
If something is innate, it does not need to be acquired.
"and diffused an international conflict among Israel, France, England, and Egypt during the Suez Crisis."
Would not "de-fused" have been a better word?
Unfortunately, the book is not without needless distractions. Allegations of a romance between Eisenhower and Kay Summersby, his Irish-born driver and wartime I think there is no question that Eisenhower was a great American. He was greater than MacArthur though MacArthur was a brilliant general. He was a very effective president and I would rate him on the level with Truman or higher as "near great." His presidency was a time of peace and great prosperty. People will look back to the Eisenhower-Kennedy years as a lost golden age of America. After LBJ things have been very rocky. I don't blame Smith for putting in some minor sex and minor scandal with Kay Summersby. Sex sells. And, in my humble opinion, we have every reason to believe Summersby's story. #1 Kay Summersby was young,charmin, sexy and available at the time. #2 Ike was a man. Perhaps he had a platonic relationshiip with the young woman but I find it hard to believe they did not have a physical relationship. They were just together and alone too often. Where there's smoke there is fire. #3 Ike was discrete. He dropped (we presume) his "squeeze" and wartime consolation in exchange for the wife he loved and respected.
If you read M. Stanton Evans book on McCarthy, "Blacklisted by History," you'll discover that Eisenhower didn't just sit back and let McCarthy "destroy himself." Eisenhower directed his subordinates to claim "executive privilege" and refuse to provide the testimony McCarthy needed to complete his investigations. The concept of "executive privilege" was invented and used by Truman and then used by Eisenhower and most subsequent presidents to make it difficult for Congress to investigate any executive activity.
Ike was particularly shortsighted when it came to Iran- as this exchange of letters show, http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/biography/dwight-d-eisenhower/cables/
Ike was a good President. As you point out, he was the president we needed in that post-war decade. But, he was never a leader of men in combat. He was a first-rate Allied Commander in WW2; he was not a soldier. That background is what made him into one of the best presidents of modern times. But, as Gen. MacArthur said, "He was the best clerk I ever had." A great president, an excellent Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, but not a soldier. (ps - "Ike" has been my on-line handle since about 1995; since I started out on the Internet. Chosen because I admire the man, but he wasn't a soldier.)