The year was 1956, Dwight Eisenhower was president, and the U.S. government was considering sanctions against Israel. And a blockade. And, possibly even having to fight Israel.
While these events may sound distant and almost unfathomable, they are a significant part of the story David A. Nichols tells. His book is an extensively researched effort to chronicle Eisenhower’s handling of the Suez Canal crisis, which culminated in Israel, Britain, and France fighting Egypt — and the United States and Soviet Union strenuously objecting to their efforts. The author focuses on the level-headed leadership of Eisenhower, who juggled the explosive crisis as he dealt with the Soviet invasion of Hungary, his health woes, and the 1956 election.
Nichols likes Ike, but his sympathies don’t extend to Israel. Consecutive chapters are titled “Betrayal of Trust” and “Double-Crossing Ike,” and the author highlights Israel among Ike’s betrayers. Nichols generally casts Israel as brutal and devious, without even any consideration that, for instance, an alliance among Egypt (and its new Soviet-supplied arms), Syria, and Jordan would have given Israel real reason to fear for its security. This is disappointing.
Another issue: Though Nichols is highly critical of the Allies’ deceitfulness, he doesn’t let himself get too bothered by the administration’s artifice about Ike’s precarious health before the 1956 election. End notes, index.