Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower and a Dangerous World
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 3 May 2017
In 1890, the Truman family moved to Independence, Missouri, United States. In 1892, the Eisenhower family moved to Abilene, Kansas, United States, about 160 miles west of Independence. Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower both grew up in lower middle class families and both received public school educations. Although each had a completely different career path, their paths would cross at the end of WW2 as they each became world figures. Both careers would pinnacle as the President of the United States. William Lee Miller's Two Americans was a dual biography of these two men from the Mid-West region. Personally, I found the first half of the book to fall short of my expectations. This was not so much because it was poorly researched or poorly written, but that having read so many great biographies of the two political heavyweights (some of which were quoted specifically by name in this book), I found myself gaining little to no new knowledge with Two Americans; in fact, the interweaving chapters alternating between Truman and Eisenhower, with the two never influencing one another in any way, were rather confusing. The later chapters, however, were markedly better. Miller's analysis of the two men's working relationship as President Truman and General Eisenhower was insightful. His inclusion on the pettiness exhibited by both sides during and long after the transition of power was most appreciated, as this less lauded character trait was often ignored by both men's biographers. Finally, I had definitely learned a lot from this book on the two president's philosophy on the nuclear arms race, on McCarthyism, and on the racial integration in the US military.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Dick Hill, who performed the reading, did a good job. His distinct style seemed warm and genuine, and the American-friendly speech was fitting for the topic of this book.
Two Americans, as noted, suffered from a lackluster first half, but I had rather enjoyed the final few chapters. I might venture those who had already read dedicated biographies of Truman and Eisenhower to quickly skim over the pre-WW2 sections of this book and dive directly into Miller's narration on the two men's working relationship later in the book.
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