Nichols does an excellent job of conveying the fraught tenor of the times ... Implicit in Nichols' tale are lessons relevant today. McCarthy's casual relationship with hard facts and basic truth jeopardized the integrity of the American political system ... The lesson Nichols leaves us with in Ike and McCarthy is that truth tends to be undervalued as a political commodity, and as a result American democracy remains vulnerable to those who do not respect it.
There are times when Nichols’s pistols don’t quite smoke; we read of officials who are 'probably' or 'perhaps' acting with a particular motive, and of people who are presumed but not proved to be acting on the president’s behalf. This isn’t Nichols’s fault as much as a limit of the historical record; still, such phrases occasionally cause the reader’s eyebrows to raise. Nonetheless Nichols has provided a gripping, detailed account of how the executive branch subtly but decisively defeated one of America’s most dangerous demagogues.
The author’s praise for the president’s strategy can border on the fulsome, but it is supported by facts and some new source material. Mr. Nichols’s Eisenhower plays a long game that draws on 'traditions of military deception' ... Cleanly written and consistently judicious, Mr. Nichols’s book would have gained additional power by deviating from its moment-by-moment timeline to explore the motivating biographies of its important figures ... Ike and McCarthy shows how hard it was, and how long it took, for a president to rein in a single senator. It remains for the reader to discern in this book a rough, inverted image of our own time, with the polarity reversed between the White House and the Congress.