The first Republican president since the Great Depression, Dwight Eisenhower was the victorious supreme allied commander of World War II’s European theater, but a political novice when he moved into the White House in 1953. To help make domestic policy, he recruited two of the country’s richest businessmen—Cleveland industrialist George Humphrey and General Motors president Charles Wilson—with the goals of ensuring American postwar prosperity and developing a defense posture against the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union.
This book provides the first detailed examination of how Humphrey and Wilson helped shape Eisenhower’s policies and priorities. Persuasive and charming, Treasury Secretary Humphrey was obsessed with cutting spending. Defense Secretary Wilson—whose departmental funding comprised most of the federal budget—bore the brunt of Humphrey’s anti-spending campaign, while struggling to master his brief and control the restive military bureaucracy. The frugality of the Humphrey-Wilson years manifested in an unambitious domestic agenda and a military that seemed to lag behind the Soviets in key areas, leading to disastrous Republican losses in the elections of 1958 and 1960.