Shinkle organizes his story by topic, spelling out the details in simple declarative prose. But some readers may be bothered by Shinkle’s habit of referring to his characters by their first names or nicknames. (Even the esteemed Eisenhower becomes just plain 'Ike.') ... Readers who lap up Washington wonkery will relish Ike’s Mystery Man for its insider accounts of bureaucratic turf wars. Others may find it too wonky for words.
Informative ... Shinkle’s access to primary source documents and his meticulous research into the life of his great-uncle enable him to produce an extremely intricate portrait of an influential American. This biography is sure to appeal particularly to those interested in the history of the Cold War and the contributions of LGBTQ people in American government.
In his debut book, the author alternates between these two secret lives; neither portion is notably successful ... the narrative is straightforward and dry; if it contains any new revelations, Shinkle does not highlight them. He describes Cutler's various rendezvous with gay men in gaudy detail, but to no apparent purpose. Cutler's diary entries illustrate the depths of his feelings for these men but never broach subjects of wider significance—e.g., the predicament of a gay man in a hostile governmental and social culture ... An important man in his day, neither of Cutler's secret lives now appears sufficiently interesting to merit the attention of 21st-century readers.