The President’s Year of Crisis: Suez and the Brink of War
Eisenhower 1956 is the white-knuckle story of how President Dwight D. Eisenhower guided the United States through the Suez Canal crisis of 1956. The crisis climaxed in a tumultuous nine-day period fraught with peril just prior to the 1956 presidential election, with Great Britain, France, and Israel invading Egypt while the Soviet Union ruthlessly crushed rebellion in Hungary. In this book, Nichols focuses on one event on the world stage, the Suez Crisis of 1956. Nichols emphasizes two dominant themes behind Eisenhower’s thinking and planning. First, after witnessing and participating in World War II and its aftermath, Ike firmly held a tension-filled conviction. He desired continuing world peace and, at the same time, feared nuclear war, World War III. In the last months of 1955, the growing turmoil in the Middle East led him to write in his diary that there was not a “single conclusive sign that the world is actually moving toward universal peace and disarmament... it would appear that the world is on the verge of an abyss.”
Secondly, the looming power of the Soviet Union, the nation’s chief nemesis of the Cold War, could lead to the war he feared. The Soviet Union was not only flexing its strength in Europe with puppet communist regimes but also, venturing into the Middle East. Rumors of a Soviet Egyptian arms deal and Soviet financial aid for the Aswan Dam circulated. Indeed, as Great Britain, France and Israel signed a secret agreement which included an Israeli invasion of the Sinai Peninsula and the plan for Anglo-French occupation of the Canal Zone in October of 1956, the Soviet Union sent troops into Hungary in response to protests.
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...ember 6 to solidify his strategy to defuse the crisis. His plan, eventually known as the Eisenhower Doctrine, committed the United States to work for stability and security in the Middle East.
In Eisenhower 1956, historian David A. Nichols does an excellent job of explaining these complex matters, and he provides a detailed analysis of the role Eisenhower played in them. In recent years, Eisenhower’s leadership has been reappraised, and the image of a doddering, golf-obsessed president has rightly been set aside. Using diaries, correspondence and a wealth of other material, Nichols makes clear that Eisenhower provided shrewd leadership when it was most needed. Eisenhower 1956 was researched with scholarly thoroughness and written with journalistic flair. Nichols’ respect for Eisenhower is clear throughout the book, and he makes a good case that it is well deserved.
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