Eisenhower 1956 is the gripping story of how President Dwight D. Eisenhower guided the United States through the Suez Canal crisis, the most dangerous international crisis of his presidency.
In 1956, more than two thirds of Western Europe’s oil supplies transited the Suez Canal. When the United States withdrew its offer to finance the Aswan Dam, Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, nationalized the canal. Without Eisenhower’s knowledge, Britain and France secretly plotted with Israel to invade Egypt and topple Nasser. In a tumultuous nine-day period just prior to the 1956 presidential election, Great Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt while the Soviet Union ruthlessly crushed rebellion in Hungary and threatened to intervene in Egypt. The dramatic climax came on Election Day, November 6, 1956.
Eisenhower 1956 is the first trade book on the Suez Crisis in thirty years. Since then, hundreds of critical documents have been declassified. Nichols uses those records to enable the reader to look over Ike’s shoulder and follow him day by day, sometimes hour by hour as he courageously confronts a crisis that threatened to escalate into global conflict—all while recovering from two major illnesses and battling to win a second term in the White House.
In the wake of the Suez crisis, the United States replaced Great Britain as the guarantor of stability in the Middle East. More than a half-century later, that commitment remains the cornerstone of American policy in the region.
“Ike’s discovery that his allies had betrayed him; his forthright determination to stand with Egypt against Britain, France and Israel, which triggered the invasion in coordination with the European nations; the stunned helplessness as brave Hungarians were trampled by Soviet forces — form the dramatic apex of Nichols’ narrative. It is a staggering moment of peril, vividly captured by a gifted author. It is also timely in important ways. As Egypt again is a key player in a region in revolt, Eisenhower’s experience in 1956 demonstrates both the significance of American principle — the molding effects of this democracy — and the limits of American power.” –Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times (read theentire review here)
“This tightly written, chronological account covers a heart attack and, later, a severe intestinal illness that threatened Ike’s reelection; betrayal by Britain and France, his staunchest allies in World War II; Israeli belligerence spearheaded by David Ben-Gurion that eerily presages Benjamin Netanyahu’s contemporary approach; the mixed legacy of sharp-tongued Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and the largely incompetent record of his brother Allen, director of the Central Intelligence Agency; the rise of Arab nationalism as embodied in Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser; and the West’s continuing dependence on Middle Eastern oil transported through the Suez Canal, a flashpoint for decades. Nichols’ book, written lean enough to allow the facts speak for themselves, makes for exciting history.” –Carlo Wolf, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire review here)
“One of “7 History Books Worth Checking Out in 2011” –Christian Science Monitor (1/12/11)
“A richly contextual reappraisal of a telling year in the presidency. . . . A suspenseful study that moves chronologically through the days in which the U.S. government was on tenterhooks. . . . A solid revisiting of this compelling leader about whom we are still learning.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Nichols draws on newly declassified documents to describe with rare accuracy and immediacy how Eisenhower, recovering from a heart attack and major surgery, acted with intelligence and foresight.” –Publishers Weekly