A two-night History Channel series, “Presidents at War,” will tell the stories of eight men who served in active duty and who would later become presidents of the United States.
On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with military historian John McManus, a professor of history at Missouri S&T, who is featured in the show. In it, McManus specifically comments on the role of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Perhaps the most notable highlight of the Eisenhower’s military expertise was D-Day – when he, as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II, gave the orders for a massive invasion of Europe called Operation Overlord.
But McManus said there were a series of challenges leading up to the attack, such as an invasion in North Africa and trying to keep the Allied Forces together.
“Eisenhower deals with all sorts of crises in the Mediterranean. So really, by the time of D-Day, he's kind of an experienced operator whose learned some lessons and taken some hard lumps,” he added.
Eisenhower, who became the 34th president of the United States, spent his entire adult life in military, and is known among military historians to be a military intellectual.
“Now, the consensus has emerged among many of his biographers – and certainly among military historians like me – Eisenhower really did have a first rate intellect and that's part of why he ends up as pretty successful leader in a lot of ways,” McManus said, also referencing Eisenhower’s accomplishments in graduating first in his class at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Also explored in the show are: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
“Presidents at War” premieres 7 p.m. February 17 and 18.
Listen to the full discussion:
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