Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guest Review: Three Days in January

Summary: January 1961: President Eisenhower has three days to secure the nation's future before his young successor, John F. Kennedy, takes power — a final mission by the legendary leader who planned D-Day and guided America through the darkening Cold War

Bret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike's last days in power. Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower's now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy's inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America's greatest leaders — during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.

Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, "on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment."

On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration.

Baier also reveals how Eisenhower's two terms changed America forever for the better — perhaps even saved the world from destruction — and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. The Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, Eisenhower only reluctantly stepped into politics. As president, Ike successfully guided the country out of a dangerous war in Korea, peacefully through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with the Soviets, and into one of the greatest economic booms in world history.

Five decades later, Baier's Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable. -- William Morrow

I rarely read or review history books, so it's a good thing that Booking Pap Pap enjoys them! He actually was so interested in THREE DAYS IN JANUARY: DWIGHT EISENHOWER'S FINAL MISSION by Bret Baier that he asked me for a copy. Here are his thoughts:

THREE DAYS IN JANUARY, Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, written by Fox news anchor, Bret Baier, brings the story of President Eisenhower’s (Ike’s) final address to the nation and his transition of power to John Kennedy.

To set the book up properly Baier first gives the reader an abbreviated look at Eisenhower’s life before the presidency. He covers Ike’s life from his growing up in Kansas through his military career and his leadership role in ending World War II. Baier probes Ike’s management style and how it influenced the view of Eisenhower’s presidency. But the main mission of the book is to look deeply into the three days that covered Ike’s farewell address and the transition of power to Kennedy. Ike’s farewell address may well be the most famous ever. Instead of looking back at his accomplishments he focused his remarks on the future and issued a warning about the influence of the new permanent war based industry, the dangerous trend of partisanship over national interests, ballooning budgets and the growth in the power of special interests. In light of today’s political atmosphere, Ike’s comments certainly ring true.

It was important to Eisenhower to create a smooth transition to the new president-elect and prepare him for the post war world. He was particularly sensitive to this after the difficult transition from President Truman. Ike didn’t particularly care for Kennedy because of his campaign claim of a missile gap with the Soviet Union. Both men knew they each had the fire power to destroy the world many times over. Kennedy despised Ike and was very dismissive of his “help”. In time, however, both men came to like each other. If I had any criticism of the book it would be that Baier did not portray Kennedy and his team in the best light. However, the poor execution of the Bay of Pigs invasion into Cuba early in his presidency may justify some of Baier’s comments.

There are several interesting facts in the book that stood out to me. First, Eisenhower in passing the presidential torch to John Kennedy was passing power from the oldest president at the time to the youngest. Second, Ike transitioned from a great war-time general to a peace time president. After closing out the Korean conflict early in his first term, Eisenhower kept the country out of war for his eight years in office and led a great economic boom. Ike’s role model was George Washington, the first general to serve as president and Washington’s farewell address was of great importance to Eisenhower.

When one thinks of great presidents, Eisenhower doesn’t readily come to mind. However, in THREE DAYS IN JANUARY, author Bret Baier makes a good case to include him in that list. If you’re interested in U.S. political history, you will enjoy THREE DAYS IN JANUARY.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Booking Pap Pap's review makes me kind of interested in history and that's saying a lot!