Breaking Free

Susan Eisenhower’s memoir begins with a brief introduction of her early life. She recounts what it was like to grow up as the granddaughter of “Ike” Eisenhower, the forty-ninth president of the United States; her short, but unhappy marriage; and her problems as a single mother to three daughters. She goes on to describe her job as a journalist for a local newspaper, and then her role in foreign affairs and marketing communications for several companies. Finally, Susan explains how she came to be the president of the Eisenhower Group, Inc., in 1986. Also in this first section, she gives the reader a thorough background on the Cold War, Gorbachev’s rise to power, and the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The following three sections chronicle the developing relationship between Susan Eisenhower and Soviet scientist Roald Sagdeev, as well as the problems that they face professionally and personally. The KGB, along with many others, would not have approved of this king of relationship. Susan’s situation was not much different than Roald’s. She was under tremendous pressure from friends to end her relationship with Roald. She was afraid of dishonoring the memory of her grandfather, but in the end, Susan and Roald risked everything to be together.

As a chronicle of an “ill-fated” relationship set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Susan Eisenhower’s memoir is an example of courage and devotion against tremendous odds.