Advising Ike

The Memoirs of Attorney General Herbert Brownell

Herbert Brownell with John P. Burke

In this enlightening volume, Herbert Brownell, the man Dwight D. Eisenhower said would make an outstanding president, recounts his achievements and trials as the GOP's most successful presidential operative of the 1940s and 1950s and as Attorney General at a crucial time in American history.

Instrumental in getting Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for office and wielding considerable influence over many of the president's decisions, Brownell had to make many tough and controversial recommendations. In his memoirs he recalls his relationship with the president and the difficult issues confronting them—civil rights, McCarthyism, illegal aliens, anti-trust laws, national security vs. individual rights.

“Herbert Brownell’s memoirs read like a mystery novel as he describes some of Eisenhower's most exciting moves and the motives behind them. Historians and others alike will find rich lodes in this book.”

—Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice of the United States, 1969–1986

“A fascinating firsthand account of the Eisenhower years written by a man who knows more about those years than anyone alive.”

—William P. Rogers, former U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of State

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"I am often amused when people pine about going back to the 'quiet days' of Eisenhower," writes Brownell, who served during an administration that faced not only the wrath of segregationists and Communist witch-hunters but also the resolution of an increasingly unpopular war in Korea and a new definition of American-Soviet relations following Joseph Stalin's death. Particularly difficult, but among the high points of the Eisenhower administration for Brownell, were the painstaking gains made in the area of civil rights. Despite personal attacks by the opposition on his integrity, he tenaciously supported and enforced the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education and Little Rock desegregation.

Going beyond the years he spent on Eisenhower's cabinet, Brownell describes the events and people that have influenced his colorful life, including those from his early years in Nebraska, his apprentice years in New York as he joined the opposition to Tammany Hall, his stints as chairman of the Republican party and manager of Thomas Dewey's two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, his 62-year private law career, and his extensive world travels.

Brownell's memoirs, filled with history, anecdotes, personal observations, and subtle humor, reveal a highly intelligent and modest man who achieved great accomplishments—developing the first Civil Rights act since Reconstruction, preserving national security while protecting individual rights—by doing what he thought was right, not by being politically correct.

About the Author

John P. Burke is associate professor of political science at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Bureaucratic Responsibility and The Institutional Presidency. He is coauthor of How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954-1965, which won the Richard E. Neustadt Book Award of the American Political Science Association.