The President and The Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952–1961

By Irwin F. Gellman

With twenty years of research behind it, a book that upends deeply held historic credo about the Eisenhower and Nixon White House partnership

More than half a century after Eisenhower left office, the history of his presidency is so clouded by myth, partisanship, and outright fraud that most people have little understanding of how Ike’s administration worked or what it accomplished. We know—or think we know—that Eisenhower distrusted his vice president, Richard Nixon, and kept him at arm’s length; that he did little to advance civil rights; that he idly sat by as Joseph McCarthy’s reckless anticommunist campaign threatened to wreck his administration; and that he planned the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. None of this is true.

“Irwin Gellman’s superb research and plausible reconstruction of the Eisenhower‑Nixon relationship may well revolutionize the meaning of historical revisionism. The President and the Apprentice is an unsettling tour de force.—David Levering Lewis, author of King: A Biography and W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

“Irv Gellman gives us a clear and carefully researched look at Ike as a leader and mentor of Richard Nixon. He provides plenty of new material that provides a fresh look at this important relationship.”—George P. Shultz, author of Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State

“An important work, and one sure to cause controversy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Eisenhower’s reputation has recently received more positive reviews, even from liberals, who praise his restraint in foreign policy and, of course, his warnings about the ‘military-industrial complex.’ His vice president, Nixon, has received no such rehabilitation. . . . Gellman, an independent scholar and writer of four previous books on American presidents, strives mightily here to balance the scales. . . . Although he doesn’t discount Nixon’s character flaws, Gellman asserts that Eisenhower respected Nixon and valued his views on a variety of issues….A worthy effort at reappraisal.” —Jay Freeman, Booklist


In The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952‑1961 (publication date: July 28, 2015) author Irwin F. Gellman reveals a different Eisenhower, and a different Nixon. Gellman challenges some of the commonly accepted history, showing instead that:

  • Eisenhower, not Truman, desegregated the military.
  • Eisenhower and Nixon—not Lyndon Johnson—pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through the Senate.
  • The fund crisis of 1952 (which led to Nixon’s famous “Checkers” speech) did not create a rift between the two, and in fact Eisenhower approved of his vice presidential candidate’s speech.
  • The idea of friction between Eisenhower and Nixon resurfaced in the “Dump Nixon” effort led by Harold Stassen, a member of the Eisenhower cabinet, in the run-up to the 1956 Republican National Convention. Stassen’s attempt to remove Nixon has been greatly exaggerated and Nixon never faced a serious threat of being replaced on the ticket.
  • During his presidency, it was Eisenhower—not his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles—who was the prime shaper of United States foreign policy. This runs contrary to popular historic views.
  • Ike trusted and relied on Nixon, sending him on many sensitive overseas missions. The result was that Nixon became one of the best-trained men in foreign affairs to reach the presidency.
  • Eisenhower was determined to bring down McCarthy and did so.
  • Nixon never, contrary to recent accounts, saw a psychotherapist. Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker was often cited as Nixon’s psychiatrist by historians and later even by the doctor himself.
  • However, while Ike was recovering from his heart attack in 1955 (he did not return to work until early 1956), Nixon was overworked, overanxious, overmedicated: all of which limited his ability to function.
  • Eisenhower never made plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Bay of Pigs was the work of the Kennedy administration.

Based on twenty years of research, The President and the Apprentice upends many established beliefs about the Eisenhower presidency, and sheds new light on the dynamic between two larger-than-life historic figures.

Irwin F. Gellman has taught at several American universities and is now an independent scholar living in the Philadelphia suburbs. His books include: The Contender, an account of Richard Nixon’s congressional years; Secret Affairs, the relationship between Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles; Good Neighbor Diplomacy, hemispheric diplomacy from 1933‑1945; and Roosevelt and Batista, bilateral United States‑Cuban policy. He lives in Parkesburg, PA.



Title: The President and the Apprentice, Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952‑1961 * Author: Irwin F. Gellman

Price: $40.00 * ISBN: 978‑0‑300‑18105‑0 Cloth * eBook ISBN: 978‑0‑300‑18225‑5 * Pages: 832 * 32 b/w illus.

Publication Date: July 28, 2015