Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Virginia Festival of the Book: Eisenhower

Two veteran journalists-turned-biographers spoke at the Virginia Festival of the Book on Friday to talk about their recent books about President Dwight Eisenhower and his administration.

The book festival's web site offers background notes on the speakers for the panel entitled "Eisenhower: The Presidency." First, Evan Thomas, who
was a writer and editor at Time and Newsweek magazines for 33 years. There he wrote more than 100 cover stories and won a National Magazine award. He is the author of 8 books, including 2 New York Times best sellers. He teaches writing and journalism at Princeton University.
and also Jeffrey Frank, who
was a senior editor at the New Yorker, the deputy editor of the Washington Post's Outlook section, and is the author of four novels, including the Washington Trilogy
The moderator of the panel was journalist and author Earl Swift, whom I interviewed last year at the book festival about his history of the interstate highway system, The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways.

Evan Thomas discussed Ike's Bluff: Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World, which focuses largely on foreign policy but also addresses Eisenhower's personality -- warm on the outside, cold as steel on the inside -- and his way of working with other government officials.

Here is video of Thomas's opening remarks:

For his part, Jeffrey Frank discussed Ike & Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage, which looks into Eisenhower's relationship with his vice-president and eventual successor, Richard Nixon.

Here is the video of Frank talking about Ike & Dick:
The near-simultaneous publication of books about Ike by Evan Thomas and Jeffrey Frank suggests that Eisenhower's presidency is undergoing a historical reassessment, just as Calvin Coolidge's administration is getting a similar treatment.

The panel on Eisenhower's presidency took place on the upper level of the University of Virginia Bookstore, overlooking the bustling commerce on the ground floor.

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