Title: Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis--Suez and the Brink of War
Author: David A. Nichols
Publish Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Page Count: 368 pages
Source: Own copy
Date Read: April 28th-May11th
Reading this book while also reading War on Peace gave both books a new perspective. Eisenhower was determined, at all costs, to end the conflict in the Suez with diplomacy and not with US troops. A man like Eisenhower, who ended the Korean conflict early in his first term, really believed in the United Nations (in its infancy at the time) and diplomatic relations/pressures to avoid war.
All this while he was recovering from a heart attack (just a hair breath shy of the widow-maker type) and then a stomach ailment that required major surgery...and then his Secretary of State goes down with stomach cancer (surgery to remove the tumor). Yeah, the hits just kept coming, but the administration was determined to progress on the president's directions and individuals pitched hit whenever was necessary. Mostly a well oiled machine.
Also on the mind of Eisenhower and his administration was the upcoming presidential election - there was a lot of "will he/won't he" going on before Eisenhower made his decision to run for another term public on February 29th, 1956. Can you believe there was a time in the US when presidential campaigns weren't 3.5 years long? *Sigh* Good times, good times. Eisenhower really didn't want to run again, but looking at the field of potential nominees (including his VP Richard Nixon), he felt he couldn't leave the situations (domestic and international) in their hands, so he put his name in for another go around. Running for office to cock block Nixon - well done Eisenhower. And the fact he made mincemeat out of Adlai Stevenson for a second time was just icing on the cake.
Then there was the USSR doing money diplomacy the way China is doing today; the UK, France, and Israel conspiring to take over Egypt - the UK PM Anthony Eden (a real dickhead) wanted the UK to return to a quasi-British Empire era so that no one could see the crumbling of the UK economy (including the pound taking a beating). Israel just wanted to start something and maybe get some more land out of the deal. What the fuck France was doing in this, beats me. I think they were hoping to be on a winning side for once - news flash, this ain't it chief. In fact, Eisenhower was willing to let go of the "special" relationship between the US and the UK - allies or no allies. In the end, the best feeling was watching Eden go down in flames, not going to lie. There's a lot to soft power, and boy was Eisenhower a damn wizard at using it. In the end, the conspiracy failed spectacularly and Eisenhower was able to keep allies with the UK, France, and Israel, as well as repel the USSR and help Egypt.
An entertaining and informative look at presidential politics and diplomacy as the Cold War was cementing. I definitely want to read more about Eisenhower's presidency.