The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s | Virginia Museum of History & Culture
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The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s

William I. Hitchcock

On September 27, 2018, William I. Hitchcock delivered a banner lecture,“The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s.”

Once thought to be a mediocre president, Dwight Eisenhower is today widely considered one of our finest leaders. Presidential historians now rank Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents. In his latest book, William Hitchcock explains why. Drawing on newly declassified documents and thousands of pages of unpublished material, The Age of Eisenhowertells the story of a masterful president guiding the nation through the great crises of the 1950s, from McCarthyism and the Korean War through civil rights turmoil and Cold War conflicts. Hitchcock offers a portrait of a skilled leader who found a middle path through the bitter partisanship of his era. At home, he affirmed the central elements of the New Deal, such as Social Security; fought the demagoguery of Sen. Joseph McCarthy; and advanced the agenda of civil rights for African-Americans. Abroad, he ended the Korean War and avoided a new quagmire in Vietnam. Yet he also charted a significant expansion of America’s missile technology and deployed a vast array of covert operations around the world to confront the challenge of Communism.  As he left office, he cautioned Americans to remain alert to the dangers of a powerful “military-industrial complex” that could threaten their liberties. Eisenhower was a gifted leader, a decent man of humble origins who used his powers to advance the welfare of all Americans. Now more than ever, Americans have much to learn from Dwight Eisenhower.

Dr. William I. Hitchcock is a professor of history at the University of Virginia and a faculty fellow at the Miller Center for Public Affairs. He is the author or editor of six previous books, including The Struggle for Europe: The Turbulent History of a Divided Continent 1945 to the Present; The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s.

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