The President and the Apprentice Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952-1961 Irwin F. Gellman

Publication date:
03 Jan 2017
Yale University Press
816 pages: 227 x 148mm
32 b-w illus.
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Based on twenty years of research, a book that rewrites the history of the Eisenhower presidency

“Irwin Gellman has emerged from years in the archives to tell the fascinating story of President Dwight Eisenhower and his relationship with his vice president, Richard Nixon. Gellman dispels the fog that has long enveloped this subject and casts new light on a critical Cold War presidency. Masterfully written, The President and the Apprentice is a must-read for anyone who, like me, loves good political history.”—Allen Matusow, author of The Unraveling of America
More than half a century after Eisenhower left office, the history of his presidency is so clouded by myth, partisanship, and outright fraud that most people have little understanding of how Ike’s administration worked or what it accomplished. We know—or think we know—that Eisenhower distrusted his vice president, Richard Nixon, and kept him at arm’s length; that he did little to advance civil rights; that he sat by as Joseph McCarthy’s reckless anticommunist campaign threatened to wreck his administration; and that he planned the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. None of this is true.
The President and the Apprentice reveals a different Eisenhower, and a different Nixon. Ike trusted and relied on Nixon, sending him on many sensitive overseas missions. Eisenhower, not Truman, completed the desegregation of the military. Eisenhower and Nixon, not Lyndon Johnson, pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through the Senate. Eisenhower was determined to bring down McCarthy and did so. Nixon never, contrary to recent accounts, saw a psychotherapist, but while Ike was recovering from his heart attack in 1955, Nixon was overworked, overanxious, overmedicated, and at the limits of his ability to function.
Based on twenty years of research in numerous archives, many previously untouched, this book offers a fresh and surprising account of the Eisenhower presidency.
“Irwin Gellman’s superb research and plausible reconstruction of the Eisenhower-Nixon relationship may well revolutionize the meaning of historical revisionism. The President and the Apprentice is an unsettling tour de force.David Levering Lewis, author of King: A Biography and W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Irwin F. Gellman is an independent scholar. His books include The Contender, an account of Richard Nixon’s time in Congress.

"Gellman is a prodigious researcher . . . in a fascinating chapter on Nixon’s health, Gellman breaks new ground in understanding the man."—Timothy Naftali, New York Times Book Review

"Gellman . . . is a prodigious researcher. His new book can be mined for many gems about the American presidency, US policies in the 1950s, and the evolution of the cold after Stalin’s death.He also charts the tides, tensions and treacheries of American politics. . . . Future scholars will need to take account of his evidence…. Gellman’s decades of parsing written records earn him the right to remind other writers that “they are supposed to think critically about their sources."—Robert Zoellick, Financial Times

"An important work, and one sure to cause controversy."—Publishers Weekly

"Irwin F. Gellman puts the record straight in this compelling book."—Tim Stanley, Prospect

"Intriguingly contrarian . . . a scholarly work, but a combative one too. Reinforced by what he has mined from all those archives, Gellman debunks myths, he challenges the comfortably liberal narrative, and when people have lied he says so."—Andrew Stuttaford, Standpoint

Finalist for the 2016 Plutarch Award given by the Biographers International Organization

"The conclusions and research are irrefutable. Gellman is spot-on about Ike’s management style, his and Nixon’s working relationship, his strengths as a bureaucratic leader, his civil rights record, his handling with Nixon of McCarthy, his impact on domestic policy, his handling of the Sputnik episode, and his dominance of and leadership in foreign policy. Overall, a wonderfully succinct summary of very complex stuff.  This will be, hands down, the most important book ever written on Nixon’s vice presidency and his relationship to the president."—David A. Nichols, author of A Matter of Justice:  Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution

"Irwin Gellman, the world's premier Nixon scholar, breaks new ground with his fascinating portrayal of Nixon's unprecedented and still unacknowledged activist vice-presidency and his complicated relationship with a brilliant President Eisenhower. Gellman's narrative is based on his unsurpassed knowledge of a vast array of valuable but often underused source materials."—Melvin Small, author of The Presidency of Richard Nixon

"Irv Gellman gives us a clear and carefully researched look at Ike as a leader and mentor of Richard Nixon. He provides plenty of new material that provides a fresh look at this important relationship."George P. Shultz, author of Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State

"The President and the Apprentice fulfills its ambitions so successfully that no future study of the Eisenhower-Nixon years can afford to ignore what Gellman has accomplished. His insights illuminate every significant issue from Ike's election in 1952 to the rise of Nixon as his successor, all with awesome scholarship. This is a major work of history and biography."Herbert S. Parmet, author of Richard Nixon and His America

"The President and the Apprentice is an important, illuminating book. There has been a great deal written about Eisenhower and Nixon in recent years, but none of us has done the archival work done by Irv Gellman, or even close."—Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff