How Ike Led | Susan Eisenhower

Summary of: How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions
By: Susan Eisenhower


In ‘How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions’, Susan Eisenhower offers readers a glimpse into the life of her grandfather, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man who was deeply complex, both as a general and as a two-term president of the United States. The book delves into the qualities and characteristics that made Ike an exceptional leader, such as his sense of duty, self-sacrifice, and strong will. The author also draws parallels between Ike and former president Ulysses S. Grant, highlighting the role of West Point in shaping their lives and vocations. In this book summary, readers will explore Ike’s life, his political views, his approach to civil rights, and his key moments in history.

The Complex Reality of President Eisenhower

Susan Eisenhower’s book explores the nuanced and multifaceted persona of her grandfather, former president and military leader, Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. Avoiding hagiography, Susan provides a unique insight into Ike’s complexities and the historical context of his time. Despite his health issues, Eisenhower demonstrated responsible and humble leadership, always striving towards a higher purpose and a better future. Personal memories from Susan add to the book’s portrayal of this pivotal figure.

Eisenhower’s Sense of Responsibility

Before the D-Day invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote notes to each group involved, to be read only if the mission failed. He took full responsibility for any failure, highlighting his sense of accountability. In the book, the author commends Eisenhower for his public stance on responsibility.

Ike’s Leadership Style

Ms. Eisenhower’s biography of her grandfather highlights his strength of will, self-control, and compassion. Displaying emotions or relying on others was a sign of vulnerability and weakness for Ike. His ability to master his passions was pivotal to his leadership as a general and as president, even though he struggled to control his conflicted emotional life. Overall, his greatest value as a leader was overcoming personal struggles and heart-numbing pain in private.

The Origin of Eisenhower’s Sense of Duty

Ms. Eisenhower draws a parallel between Ulysses S. Grant and Ike’s attendance at the US Military Academy at West Point due to the cost factor and their lack of interest in a military career. The author argues that Eisenhower’s higher form of duty, based on selflessness and self-sacrifice, was ingrained in his DNA, and he owed it to West Point. Ms. Eisenhower claims that Ike’s sense of vocation and duty aligned with his lack of egoism, a quality that drove him towards self-sacrifice.

Ike’s Humanity in the Aftermath of WWII

In 1945, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the US Army’s chief of staff, and his wife was blown away by his humane leadership. She praised him for paying special attention to Holocaust survivors and ensuring that a Jewish consultant helped them navigate the camps. Ike also tasked the Army with keeping him updated on the situation.

Eisenhower’s Reluctant Political Ascent

Ms. Eisenhower’s book highlights the political maneuverings that took place even before the end of WW2 to push her husband, Eisenhower, into running for the presidency. Despite his reluctance, Democratic Party leaders urged him to run, and even President Truman indicated he wouldn’t run for re-election if Eisenhower chose to do so. His political views and party affiliation remained vague when he eventually ran and won the presidency in 1952.

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