Ike and Monty

-Before Dwight D. Eisenhower became president of the United States, he led the Anglo-American coalition against the German-Italian alliance during World War II. Although definitely junior in terms of command experience and lower in seniority than a number of other Allied leaders, Eisenhower was selected to command the American forces in Europe in 1942. In 1944, he became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force assembling to challenge German domination of the European continent.

As Eisenhower moved from obscurity to international recognition, Bernard Law Montgomery became the most celebrated British battlefield commander since the Duke of Wellington. Montgomery distinguished himself first in North Africa against the celebrated Erwin Rommel and then in command of the British contingent during the invasion of Sicily. By the end of 1943, it was clear that when British troops landed in France they must needs be under the command of General Montgomery.

Eisenhower and Montgomery were so widely dissimilar in their personalities that a stable relationship involving supervision of the latter by the former was highly unlikely. Montgomery was convinced that his nominal superior possessed an inferior military judgment, while Eisenhower, who normally kept his emotions under control, was driven to loathe and despise his talented and egocentric subordinate.

In IKE AND MONTY, Norman Gelb captures the essence of both men to a degree that only a comparative biography can accomplish. Moreover, by focusing on the seemingly inevitable conflict between the two, he exposes connections between their personal combat and the waging of the war to an exceptional degree. This work is an excellent introduction to a complex subject, and it is all the more valuable to general readers for its relative lack of scholarly apparatus.