Program Overview

“IKE: The Making of an American Hero” offers a fresh and penetrating look at the leadership role played by American General Dwight Eisenhower in the defeat of Nazi Germany in the European Theater war, 1942 – 1945. Featured in the documentary are many “witnesses to history” who were on the scene as “Ike” made critical decisions – often in the face of intense opposition – that led ultimately to victory. These witnesses, interviewed by SMC producer George Colburn in the 1990s, include aides to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, British Field Marshall Montgomery, Churchill’s top military man, and U.S. Gen. Omar Bradley who worked alongside Ike from North Africa to the surrender of Germany.

Other key witnesses include several staffers who worked with Ike at Supreme Headquarters, including his son John S.D. Eisenhower, a recent graduate of West Point. Augmenting the views of these witnesses are the commentaries of numerous World War II scholars and authors, including Nigel Hamilton, biographer of Field Marshall Montgomery and Carlo D’Este, the military biographer of Eisenhower and General George S. Patton, the most famous of Ike’s battlefield Generals.

During his eight years as President, Ike used his hero status to help overcome strong political opposition to his positions on the military budget, civil rights, McCarthyism, and the new threats of the Cold War in Asia and Europe. During his time in the White House, he lowered defense spending, balanced the budget three times, and developed the infrastructure needed in a “baby booming” society.