by: Randy L Harvey [ ]
Dwight David Eisenhower was a career military officer in the United States Army. After graduating from West Point in 1915, he was posted to Texas during the border troubles with Mexico. During United States’ brief involvement in World War I, he served as a temporary lieutenant colonel of a heavy tank brigade in Pennsylvania, but was not sent to Europe during the conflict. Eisenhower, nicknamed “Ike,” later became a household name during World War II, where he commanded United States military forces in Europe. While Eisenhower was criticized by some Allied military leaders as being overly cautious, he impressed Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt as a man who was able to command soldiers from several different countries. They appointed him head of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), where he was recognized as an excellent coalition commander.
As supreme commander, Eisenhower demonstrated a remarkable capacity, both to rally the troops under his command, and to bring together larger numbers of civilian and military leaders. He had his critics when it came to his abilities and decisions, including Field Marshall Montgomery, who said of him “nice chap, no general.” General Patton wrote that Eisenhower had no personal knowledge of war, General Bradley, who later wrote that Eisenhower “had little grasp of sound battlefield tactics,” and Admiral Hall, who said Eisenhower “was one of the most overrated men in military history."
Eisenhower made decisions that were not viewed favorably by all, but in the end were proven to be correct, and which helped lead to victory in Europe with fewer casualties on the western front, unlike the higher causality rate among Soviet troops on the eastern front. After the war, Eisenhower served briefly as US member of the Allied Commission governing Germany. In November 1945, he took over from General George Marshall as US Army Chief of Staff. He retired in 1948, however, in 1951 he returned to Europe as Supreme Commander of NATO. Two years later, he became the 34th President of the United States. All in all, Eisenhower was a good military commander with a common sense approach to his decisions and orders. Typical with any military commander, he made decisions that were praised by some and criticized by others. Liked or disliked his leadership helped contribute to the victory in Europe.
Osprey Publications Ltd. has released Eisenhower as Number 18 in their “Command” series.
Eisenhower is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are color and black & white photographs, color illustrations, color maps, charts and detailed captions. The contents are:
- The early years
- The military life
- The hour of destiny
- Opposing commanders
- Inside the mind
- When war is done
- A life in words
- Further reading
The text in the book is well-written, and contains a well-documented life and military history of Dwight David Eisenhower. Zaloga researched and documented “Ike’s” military history from his involvement in the border war with Mexico, World War I and World War II, and his later political career. Upon picking up the book, the reader should not be led to believe that it is going to be a blow-by-blow, edge-of-your-seat type of action-filled book. It focuses on time, individuals, locations, actions, specific battles, etc. Some of the areas covered are Operation “Husky” (the invasion of Sicily), Operation “Overlord” (the Normandy invasion), and the Battle of the Bulge.
Zaloga also discusses other military leaders, both allied and axis, such as Patton, Bradley, and Field Marshall Montgomery, as well as axis leaders Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring, Generalfeldmarschall Rundstedt and others. For an individual with a keen interest in Eisenhower and his career, I highly recommend the book, as it describes both his military and political careers. For the military modeler, this book will have no value in being used as a reference—
with the exception of a few photographs, such as of Eisenhower’s staff car, the majority of the photographs are of Eisenhower and other military leaders. Then again, the military figure modeler may benefit for the variety of uniforms, both allied and axis, which are shown.
Zaloga does a very good job of describing Eisenhower the man, and provides enough specific details to let the individual reader make their own decision whether Eisenhower was a good or bad military commander. From my readings, it does not appear that Zaloga is trying to sway the reader one way or another, simply providing details of Eisenhower’s career from an unbiased viewpoint. As for myself, knowing little of Eisenhower’s total military career, the book helped me to better understand his actions, views, thought processes, and overall military knowledge.
The text and the accompanying photographs are in a correct chronological order, and are well-written. As a side benefit, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through the book, and the text is easy to read and follow. To me spelling and grammatical errors comprise an area that I can get nit-picky about, so therefore I mention the lack of these errors for others who may have the same views as I do.
There are a total of 51 black & white photographs, and 1 color photo throughout the book. Most of the photographs are well done; however, there are some that have an out-of-focus look, while others appear to be too dark, all of which is typical for photos of that period of time. I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from film, so that could be one reason. One thing that I was disappointed with is that a majority of the photographs are already well-known and have been used in several other publications. Several of them are staged or posed for the photographer, as opposed to stills being made from films.
Less-known photographs would have been a nice touch in my personal opinion. One of my favorite photographs shows Eisenhower in 1941 and again in 1946. The stresses of the war are very evident in Eisenhower’s face and the picture shows that he aged quickly in the five year time frame.
There are 3 color illustrations by illustrator Steve Noon that are very well-done, nicely-detailed and cover:
- Operation Husky: Sicily, June 1943
- D-Day, Utah Beach, June 6, 1944
- The Battle of the Bulge, December 19, 1944
Each of the illustrations goes with the time frame and location being discussed in the book. The accompanying captions describe the scene shown, the individuals, location, equipment and vehicles portrayed. The captions also describe the importance of the events and the outcome of the events shown. The illustrations are an important addition to the book and are not just random generic illustrations used as page fillers. Another fact about the illustrations is that, if the reader is interested, the illustrations are for sale and there is the necessary contact information provided with which to make the purchase.
THE COLOR MAPS:
There are 7 color maps throughout the book, and they show operations in:
- Mediterranean Theater of Operations
- European Theater of Operations, June 1944 to May 1945
- Alternate Plans, August 1944
o Montgomery’s Single Thrust
o Eisenhower’s Broad Front
- Autumn Frustrations, September 15 to December 15, 1944
- Crossing the Rhine
There is 1 chart included in the book:
- Key to military symbols
The captions are nicely written, detailed and cover the accompanying photographs and illustrations very well. The captions get very specific in regards to the photographs and illustrations shown. They provide information such as who is the picture, their rank, military unit, the location shown, dates and other pertinent information. They also provide information on the individuals shown and their personal relationships, especially regarding whether they respected, liked or disliked each other. I appreciate the fact that the captions are informative as opposed to a very generic caption stating something like “Eisenhower, 1943.”
For the most part, I am very impressed with the book. It examines the military history of Dwight David Eisenhower well from the border war with Mexico through World War II, as well as his political career. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library, nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.
Crusade in Europe, by Dwight D. Eisenhower (Doubleday & Company, Inc.)
The American Heritage Picture History of World War II by C.L. Sulzberger (American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.)
World War II Day by Day: An Illustrated Almanac 1939-1945, by Donald Sommerville (Dorset Press)
The Military History of World War II, Consultant Editor: Barrie Pitt (The Military Press)
WWII Time-Life Books History of the Second World War, the Editors of Time-Life Books, Foreword by Eric Sevareid (Prentice Hall Press)
Great Campaigns of World War II, co-ordinating Editor J. B. Davies (Exeter Books)
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on Armorama when you make your purchase.