Saturday, April 28, 2012
General Ike by John S D Eisenhower
On page 39, I laughed at Ike's adoption of the "Beer Barrel Polka" a popular tune in the 1940's which Ike enjoyed, his declaring it the official song of the 15th He so designated it Infantry of the Army at Ft. Ord, CA. "Military morale is often built on things that seem trivial to a civilian." So that when there was a marching review of his division the band would suspend whatever march it had been playing and swing into the "polka" until the last man in the regiment passed by, then the band would revert back to standard military marches. It was said that the men of the 15th refused to march to any other tune. I never knew that.
George Patton and Ike had a long history and acquaintance prior to WWII. There are multiple examples of Patton's outbursts and arrogance and Ike's tolerance. Pg 61... "..the type of annoyance Ike was willing to undergo in order to save this man for what he was best at, fighting." in another reference to Patton. On pg. 73.."I think that Ike treasured George's memory as a bit of nostalgia for simpler times, a simpler Army.....speaking as President in 1957....he referred to George Patton's old sergeant, who was so disgusted with the men in his squad that he declared them "not even fittin' to be civilians." Now that's funny too. On Pg 76 we learn that Ike always tended to worked off stress and concern by making vegetable soup, like "Lucy Manette's father in Dicken' Tale of Two Cities. "Perhaps going through an established ritual allowed him to pull his thoughts together."
There are many touching passages including the eulogy which Ike delivered at Churchill's burial and his "intangibles of freedom:" in his June 12, 1945 address to the Guildhall in London slightly one month past the end of the European phase of WWII. When the European operations ended in 1945, Ike would still have nearly 25 more years of public service ahead. This book merely mentions here and there some incidents of Ike's presidency instead it is a heartfelt tribute to his character and his ability to persevere.
I would keep this book on my library shelf but instead am sending it along to a retired military friend who has not read it and who will enjoy it even more than I did. It is a great read about the history of our time and how Ike, the consummate soldier led and administered a coalition of troops and how his character developed as it was destined to be amidst and along with some of the greatest men. I give this 4 ****.