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Crusade in Europe

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Crusade in Europe, By Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint Edition, Baltimore: 1997. Pg. 559.) ISBN: 0-8018-5668-X

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - January 18, 2002

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, and he was to surpass this exalted position, by becoming the 34th president of the United States. Crusade in Europe was first published in 1948, and when Eisenhower wrote it, the wounds of World War II were still fresh in the minds of everyone. In this informative book, Eisenhower supplies an insider's look at America's role in Europe during World War II, as seen through the eyes of the man who commanded the Allied Forces. Not only does this book offer insights into the war, but it also provides a glimpse of some of the special duties, and problems, associated with being 'in charge' of it all. These problems ranged from difficulties with logistics, to the emotional toll of sending men into harms way.

Crusade in Europe not only chronicles the allied efforts in Western Europe during World War II, but it also takes a brief look at the war in the Pacific, and the effect it had on military efforts in Europe. With a down to earth style, Eisenhower, writes about his observations and personal knowledge of the Allied war effort, from the formulation of battle plans and strategy, to the heart wrenching discussion to send men into battle. He also details the overthrow of Germany and the destruction of the Nazi regime, and the efforts made by the Allies to jointly govern Germany after the war. Special attention is also given to such activities as the invasion of Africa and the various African campaigns, the invasion of Sicily, and the trudge through Italy, in addition to the planning of such massive campaigns as Torch, Overlord, and D-Day. Eisenhower also devotes some energy to the aftermath of the war, and he warns of the dire need to remain allied with the Soviets, and the tragic consequences that might arise if the Soviet-American relations were to break down.

This book begins with an overview of the early years of the war, before America entered the fray, and then goes on to explain how and why America joined in the fight against Hitler. Eisenhower candidly points out that when the war started, America was very weak, militarily. And he details, with justifiable pride, how America's fighting abilities were strengthened, building the American military into one of the finest fighting forces in the world - while at the same time engaging in a two-front war.

Because the Crusade in Europe was written so soon after the events that it chronicles occurred, Eisenhower did not have the luxury of hindsight, based on years of research and pondering over the events. Consequently, what you have here is a clear picture of Eisenhower's feelings and observations - as they were shortly after the events happened, without the natural revisionism inherent in looking at an event years later. Crusade in Europe is a chilling and articulate account of the War in Europe. However, because this book was written so close upon the heels of the events depicted, there are some errors and omissions that were not apparent at the time. With the recent declassification of many military and governmental documents, our knowledge of the events is now clearer and perhaps more accurate, than they were when Eisenhower penned this narrative. While this book gives the readers an excellent insight into the war, and the men who guided it, it is not complete enough to give the reader a comprehensive grounding in the War in Europe, nor was it meant to. It does, however, serve as an excellent introduction to the war. It also provides unique insights into the war, and to Eisenhower, which will serve to enhance the reader's understanding of the war.

Crusade in Europe is an informative, easy to read book that is well suited for the general readers, as well as for historians and students of history and political science.

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