Friday, July 22, 2016

Eisenhower A Soldier's Life by;Carlo D'este

This is a thorough review of his life. It is over 700 pages of well researched information starting with his immigrant grandparents through the end of the war. You no doubt have read many accounts of WWII. This one concentrated on Eisenhower. The disturbing part to me was the constant pressure from Churchill, Montgomery and others from England to have a greater footprint on the war to the detriment of the American Army. This created great pressure on him and was uncalled for. Once the war was on in earnest with the invasion of Europe from Britain as each day went by the burden from a numbers standpoint was overwhelmingly American. After the battle of the Bulge he did transfer part of Bradley’s forces to Montgomery with him directing the forces north of the Bulge. Later as we advanced into Germany the forces were returned to Bradley. Each commander wanted his group to have preference. I believe that Eisenhower stayed with his broad front stategy to keep the peace. I am one, who in hindsight still believes that Patton was on the verge of entering Germany when his supplies were cut off so Montgomery could advance along the coast with the goal of stopping the V-1 and V-2 rockets from hitting England. As a result the war did not end in 1944 but continued until May 1945. A lot has been written about the decision Eisenhower made to stop his forces at the Elbe River. He did it to save American lives. At that point of time the Nazis were defeated. All that remained was their unconditional surrender. Patton wanted to end in Czechoslovakia at Prague. He was ordered to stop fifty miles short. The tragic thing was the uprising of the people. Just as Russia did for Warsaw, here again they paused their forces until the patriots were wiped out. How tragic. The author doesn’t put blame on Ike. After all he was told Russia was our ally. The author did not hesitate to criticize Ike when warranted but overall it was a tribute to one of our greatest Generals and later President which is not a topic for this book. Ike graduated from West Point in 1915. When WWI broke out he, of course, wanted to be in action as Patton was. He had become so accomplished at training civilians to become soldiers that the Army kept him in the States till the war was over. After the war the Army was drastically cut. From a peak of 3.7 million men the Army by June 1921 was reduced to 150,000 enlisted men and 12,000 officers. It stayed this low until 1936. Very few officers or enlisted men stuck it out for the next twenty years or so. The pay was low. Accommodations for wives and children were dismal at best. Those that did were to become the top leaders during WWII like MacArthur, Patton, Bradley, Clark and others. Ike was second in command to MacArthur when President Hoover ordered the removal of the veterans during their bonus sit-in. He resented MacArthur’s handling of it. Later in his career he again served under him in the Philippines. In 1919 he led a convoy of Army trucks across the country. The roads were abysmal. It took 62 days and showed how important good highways were. As President he started the Interstate Highway System that we take for granted today. His first born son was nicknamed Ikky. He died tragically at the age of three. Later Ike and Mamie had another son John. He graduated from West Point just as the war was ending and though shipped to Europe did not get into combat. If you are a WWII nut like me I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy reading this book. I found it at our Public Library. Jack B. Walters July 22, 2016

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