Ike’s Bluff:

President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World

A New York Times Bestseller

Upon assuming the presidency in 1953, Dwight Eisenhower came to be seen by many as a doddering lightweight. Yet behind the bland smile and apparent simplemindedness was a brilliant, intellectual tactician. As Evan Thomas reveals in his provocative examination of Ike’s White House years, Eisenhower was a master of calculated duplicity. As with his bridge and poker games he was eventually forced to stop playing after leaving too many fellow army officers insolvent, Ike could be patient and ruthless in the con, and generous and expedient in his partnerships. Facing the Soviet Union, China, and his own generals, some of whom believed a first strike was the only means of survival, Eisenhower would make his boldest and riskiest bet yet, one of such enormity that there could be but two outcomes: the survival of the world—or its end.

This is the story of how he won.

Editorial Reviews

“With grace, insight, and originality, Evan Thomas has written a brilliant and engaging book about the most important of subjects: how close we came to Armageddon in the seemingly placid 1950s. Thomas’ Eisenhower is a canny savior, a president who kept the peace through feint and bluff. No one writes more astutely or more honestly than Evan Thomas. This is the work of a master of storytelling at his best.”

Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

“Evan Thomas’ profoundly important book shows how the card-playing general who did as much as anyone to win World War II became the president most adroit at preserving peace. Behind his open smile, Eisenhower was a secretive and subtle leader with quiet moral courage. By projecting confidence while keeping his intentions concealed, he became the model of a nuclear-age peacekeeper. Thomas has produced a fascinating history that is also a brilliant guide to great leadership.”

Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Steve Jobs

“Dwight Eisenhower was a great general and president because he was a great leader, and Ike’s Bluff uncracks the code. Evan Thomas’ original and fascinating book is an immersion in the Eisenhower School of Leadership, with lessons not only for presidents and military officers but leaders in other arenas of American life operating in moments of both tranquility and rapid change. Especially in these times, Thomas’ book is an essential reminder that strong leadership can be exercised with kindness, morality and respect for opponents.”

Michael Beschloss New York Times bestselling author of The Conquerors

“A bustling, anecdotal book with a high-concept premise. [Thomas] approaches the ever more changeable Eisenhower legacy with new and intriguing questions.”

New York Times

“Evan Thomas has written an insightful and penetrating study of my father, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dad was a hard man to know; he played it close to the chest. So despite my extensive exposure to him throughout forty six years, I still found myself learning new aspects, some of which, I must admit, are a bit painful. But the balance that Thomas achieves between Eisenhower the public servant and Eisenhower the man is, in my opinion, as close to the mark as we are likely to see.”

John Eisenhower

“A thoroughly researched, tightly organized, and briskly written biography…Thomas is especially skilled at bringing characters of the era to life.”

Washington Post

“An enjoyable book, fast-moving and packed with anecdotes.”

Los Angeles Times

“An imaginative, approachable volume that may well accelerate Eisenhower’s slow but seemingly inexorable movement toward presidential greatness. Evan Thomas is right. The greatest victories of the man who helped win World War II were the wars he did not fight.”

Boston Globe

“Well-researched and highly readable…Thomas’ account is sure to appeal to older readers who can recall the mandatory duck-and-cover drills in the classroom and to others with an interest in a fascinating and pivotal period when the nation was in better hands than many at the time probably realized.”

Associated Press

“[Thomas is] a five-star biographer who blows apart that image [of Ike as a bumbling old man] with devastating detail.”

Vanity Fair

“Highly absorbing.”

Huffington Post

“Thomas has written a book that elucidates Eisenhower’s wisdom for general readers.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Author Biography

Evan Thomas is the author of several bestselling works of history and biography, including The War Lovers and Sea of Thunder. He was a writer and editor at Time and Newsweek for more than 30 years, and he is frequently a commentator on television and radio. He teaches at Princeton University and lives in Washington, DC. 

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Reader Biography

Brian Troxell is an Atlanta-based actor and voice talent who can be seen and heard on television, film, radio, podcasts, and the live stage. Brian is a regular cast member of the Sketchworks sketch comedy troupe, and performs regularly with the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. He can also be heard as a cast member of the Harry Strange Radio Drama.

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