Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower and a Dangerous World
William Lee Miller
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From William Lee Miller, the highly regarded biographer of Abraham Lincoln, a riveting dual examination of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower that explores the similarities and equally striking differences of two remarkable men in the context of mid-twentieth-century American culture and politics.
Two Americans weaves together the life stories of Truman and Eisenhower, showing how these future presidents, born six years apart from each other in small farming towns, were emblematic of their Midwestern upbringings and their generation. Miller also shows how their markedly different life experiences during World War I and between the world wars would shape their choices and the roles they played in the politics of the time, as Truman became the quintessential politician, and Eisenhower, the thoroughgoing anti-politician. Their personalities come alive in vividly described scenes of their collaboration during the war-torn 1940s; their dual, but different, roles in bringing the war to an end and shaping the postwar world; their growing disapproval of each other; and, finally, in 1952, the hostile bickering and maneuvering that characterized the passing of presidential power from one to the other.
dealing with an unbeatable opponent’s tactic. It was an unanswerably effective campaign device, juxtaposing the unpopular war with the very popular war hero, without saying anything specific about policy. Truman said that was “a piece of demagoguery,” which in turn, of course, made Eisenhower furious. As noted in chapter 8, President Truman could not resist saying, in his telegram of congratulation on the day after the election, that the presidential plane, the Independence, would be available to
the truth of the matter? The truth, as you might have guessed, is that both played a role, but a great deal did happen during Truman’s administration. Truman did do more than simply issue the order; he established a President’s Committee on the Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services to oversee its realization. That committee—called informally the Fahy committee, after its chairman, a soft-spoken liberal Georgian, former solicitor general Charles Fahy—had seven members, two
engines, rubber shortages, and dramatic waste. Truman always claimed, although the figure cannot be substantiated, that his committee saved the embattled nation fifteen billion dollars, which again was real money in those days. The publicity the committee received was generally quite favorable, and Truman’s public reputation steadily rose through the war years. In the late fall of 1943, as Dwight Eisenhower, having commanded the invasion of Italy in September and attended the Cairo Conference in
thread of disappointment that that did not happen. Because in 1943 Britain was still militarily the predominant Power and because the Supreme Command in the Mediterranean had been given to an American, many, including the Prime Minister, expected the command of the armies that were to liberate Western Europe would be entrusted to a British soldier. An understanding to this effect had been reached by Roosevelt and Churchill when the latter had agreed to Eisenhower’s appointment as Supreme
that if the president did this, “and if in the elections I were to vote, I would vote against the President.” This was a bombshell. If Marshall had resigned, it would have been disastrous for the as-yet-unelected Truman in the November election. After this stark, shocking moment, there had to have been painstaking consultations behind the scenes. Truman, who stood by his decision, did agree that the recognition would be de facto only, not de jure. Marshall never spoke to Clifford again, nor did