(Kansas City, Missouri) - Dwight Eisenhower was a man of simple tastes but decisive action. Behind his dry smile was a brilliant, intellectual strategist, an attribute - also evident at the poker table - that served to keep a number of Cold War standoffs from flaring into full-scale war during his two terms as president.
Former Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas draws from his book Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World in discussing the central Kansas war hero turned commander-in-chief on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
The event kicks off a new series, Eisenhower 125, commemorating the 125th anniversary year of his birth in 1890.
Eisenhower, Thomas says, was "remarkably willing, on occasion, to let himself appear disengaged, even weak," a reflection of his caution about overreacting or responding too hastily to developments. But when warranted, he could play tough.
Thomas maintains that Ike outfoxed the Soviet Union and China by making them believe he would use nuclear weapons even as he was holding off his own generals and advisors who favored strikes. "Ike used the bluff of a big war—a nuclear war—to avoid getting into little wars," Thomas says.
Thomas spent nearly 25 years at Newsweek, the last four as editor-at-large, and worked nine previous years as a writer and editor at Time magazine. From 2007-14, he taught journalism at Princeton University. He is the author of six books including the best-selling Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945 about the war in the Pacific and John Paul Jones, a biography of the American revolutionary.
The Eisenhower 125 series is co-presented by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home with support from the W.T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee.
A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.