I should state right off the bat that I am not a war history buff. I purchased this book, and a couple others, in order to expand my knowledge of World War II. I decided to read this one first.
Knowing something of Stephen Ambrose's view of Eisenhower, I expected a positive presentation of Eisenhower's decision to let the Russians take Berlin. I was not surprised in this regard. The only question for me was, did Eisenhower's decision make military sense? I think he makes his case that Eisenhower made the right decision from many angles.
General Eisenhower asked General Omar Bradley for an estimate of how many soldiers would lose their lives in taking Berlin. Bradley figured 100,000. It was already decided by political means that Berlin would be divided four ways. Similarly,Berlin was within the Russian sector. Eisenhower felt that Berlin was not worth losing 100,000 soldiers over, and that the Russians were closer and better prepared to do that task. In addition, Eisenhower wanted to crush Germany as quickly as possible, and he felt Berlin could take away from that objective. The book is a defense of the military logic of his decision.
I found much to admire about Dwight D. Eisenhower in this book. He was his own man, but sought consensus as best he could without compromising his war plan. He had a deep understanding of the role of military decisions relative to the political process. He valued his troops. Ambrose says of Eisenhower, "Seldom in four years, during which time he had to deal with countless megalomaniacs, innumerable irritating problems, and dozens of major crises, did he lose his temper. He did not carry over into the next day the problems of the moment; he approached every decision on its own merits. He could do so because he liked people and therefore enjoyed life." I can't help but respect his decision not to forfeit 100,000 soldiers for something he later referred to as a "worthless objective." He was the right man, in the right place, at the right time. I like Ike!