John S. D. Eisenhower (1922-2013) was the son of Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium and the author of Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I.
Eisenhower is a historian from whom there are too few books. The author of The Bitter Woods (1969) has produced a cool and thoughtful look at the understated conflict which preceded and shaped the Civil War. The narrative is detailed but fast-moving, and Eisenhower has brilliantly captured the political mood and the elan of the American and Mexican forces. Lay readers will enjoy the personalities; academics will approve of Eisenhower's research and historiography. There have been surprisingly few books on this subject in recent years, and this is the best one since Otis Singletary's The Mexican War (LJ 7/60).-- Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles
Eminent military historian John S.D. Eisenhower has written a highly readable and expert account of a war which--though frequently overlooked--tuned out to be the training ground for the American Civil War.
"Splendidly narrated."-Washington Post
The war between the United States and Mexico, often passed over lightly as a sort of rehearsal for the American Civil War, is dealt with by Eisenhower ( The Bitter Woods ) as an event of major significance in the nation's history. (It was certainly major from the loser's point of view: Mexico gave up more than half its territory in the 1848 Treaty of Gaudalupe Hidalgo.) This well-written, comprehensive history of the war takes into account the political and diplomatic dimensions as well as the military. The two principal campaigns are traced in colorful detail: Zachary Taylor's battles in northeast Mexico, aggressively fought until Winfield Scott appropriated that general's best troops for his own amphibious landing at Veracruz, and Scott's over land drive on Mexico City against formidable opposition, brilliantly successful despite weak support from Washington. Eisenhower, son of the former president, suggests that Winfield Scott was the most capable soldier this country has ever produced. Of President James Polk, one of the three major characters in this lively narrative, the author remarks, ``Manifest Destiny was not Polk's invention, but he was its ideal agent.'' Author tour. (Mar.)