I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, when Eisenhower was president. His was an avuncular image: benign, sunny, hands-off. Defiantly middle-of-the-road, Ike infuriated those eager for a more overtly progressive leader like Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate he trounced in 1952 and 1956. Eisenhower was not a favorite of intellectuals, but Nichols shows he was very much a thinker.
He also posits Eisenhower as a highly effective leader deathly afraid of nuclear disaster. Not only did he keep the United States from war in Egypt – and Hungary, which the Soviet Union crushed in its short-lived revolution of late 1956 – he made the US the key world power, supplanting colonial Britain and France in the Middle East and effectively legitimizing Nasser.