Michael Paradis

The Light of Battle: Eisenhower, D-Day, and the Birth of the American Superpower

A History Camp Discussion with Michael Paradis about his book, The Light of Battle: Eisenhower, D-Day, and the Birth of the American Superpower.

From the Publisher:

 A thrilling new biography of Dwight Eisenhower set in the months leading up to D-Day, when he grew from a well-liked general into one of the singular figures of American history. On June 6, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower addressed the thousands of American troops preparing to invade Normandy, exhorting them to embrace the “Great Crusade” they faced. Then, in a fleeting moment alone, he drafted a resignation letter in case the invasion failed.

In The Light of Battle, Michel Paradis, acclaimed author of Last Mission to Tokyo, paints a vivid portrait of Dwight Eisenhower as he learns to navigate the crosscurrents of diplomacy, politics, strategy, family, and fame with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance. In a world of giants—Churchill, Roosevelt, De Gaulle, Marshall, MacArthur—it was a barefoot boy from Abilene, Kansas, who would master the art of power and become a modern-day George Washington.

Drawing upon meticulous research and a voluminous body of newly discovered records, letters, diaries, and firsthand accounts from three continents, Paradis brings Eisenhower to life, as a complicated man who craved simplicity, a genial cipher whose smile was a lethal political weapon.

With an addictive pace and an eye for the overlooked, Paradis interweaves the grand arc of history with more human concerns, bringing listeners into the private moments that led to Eisenhower’s most pivotal decisions. By deftly integrating the personal and the political, he reveals how Eisenhower’s rise both reflected and was integral to America’s rise as a global superpower.

An unflinching look at how character is forged, and leadership is learned, The Light of Battle breathes new life into the man who made “the leader of the free world” the mantle of the American presidency.

“This magnificent study is based on deep archival research and offers a comprehensive look into the planning of the Allied invasion of France.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“Meticulously documented. … Engaging. … An ingenious look at perhaps the most important six months in Eisenhower’s career.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

‘Meticulous. … A discerning examination of Eisenhower’s personal hand in establishing America’s reputation as levelheaded ‘leader of the free world.” — Publishers Weekly(starred review)

‘Compelling. … Breezy. … [Paradis] has deeply mined the vast record of Eisenhower’s wartime career, producing an evocative and at times moving portrait of Ike as he masterminds the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. — Air Mail

‘I could not put this book down. Michel Paradis guided me over historical terrain I thought I knew well, only to reveal something new on almost every page. Focusing with startling luminosity on Eisenhower’s war-time career, this is hands-down the most deeply researched, sensitive, intimate, and nuanced portrait of the career and character of the Supreme Allied Commander and 34th President that I have ever read. A vivid picture emerges of an all-too-human yet uncommonly thoughtful, judicious, and enormously consequential leader.’ — DAVID KENNEDY, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Freedom from Fear

‘Michel Paradis has brought one of America’s greatest generals to life in a masterly portrait of Ike at his most vulnerable at challenging moments of wartime command. All Ike’s loneliness, boredom and anxiety are revealed along with his gifts and his genius for leadership. Combining flashback episodes of Ike’s background with minute by minute actions in the buildup to D-Day, Paradis’ portrait of Ike can’t be put down! It’s a must read for anyone aspiring to high level leadership in politics, business or the military.’ — GEN. WESLEY CLARK

‘In this deeply researched and fascinating book, Michel Paradis provides a fresh perspective on how General Eisenhower, through humility, pragmatism, and humor, built the most powerful invading force in history and successfully accomplished what seemed impossible—Victory in Europe. In doing so, The Light of Battle highlights ‘Ike’s’ personal courage and admirable character, providing an example for all leaders to emulate.’ — BG SHANE REEVES, Dean of the Academic Board, U.S. Military Academy, West Point

The Light of Battle is a joy to read. Funny, penetrating, and filled with lively prose, it takes readers inside the mind of one of America’s most accomplished generals in his moments of greatest stress and through his ultimate victory. Paradis has given us something no other WWII historian has: the story of D-Day as experienced by its overall commander and his closest subordinates. A mix of military history and biography, this book is a must-read for those interested in WWII and America’s rise to superpower status.’ — COL. AARON O’CONNELL, USMC, Director, Clements Center for National Security

‘If you think you know about ‘Ike,’ think again. Michel Paradis has vividly reconstructed the story of Eisenhower in the months that led to D-Day using a collage of colleagues, friends, and family to paint a full portrait of the man who transformed America’s role in Europe. It is a story by turns intimate, informed and sympathetic.’ — RICHARD OVERY, New York Times bestselling author of Blood and Ruins

The Light of Battle is a gorgeously written account, studded with new material, of the only man empowered to launch the most important invasion in modern history. A riveting, granular examination of Dwight Eisenhower and the months and then nerve-racking days leading up to June 6, 1944. The only must-read book to mark the eightieth anniversary of D-Day.” — ALEX KERSHAW, New York Times bestselling author of Against All Odds

‘The Light of Battle is recommended for anyone looking for a new and unique understanding of Eisenhower, his many interwoven relationships and important decisions leading to D-Day.’ — Association of the United States Army

[Recorded on June 6, 2024.]

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      Michel Paradis is a leading human rights lawyer, historian, and national security law scholar and most recently the author of the critically acclaimed Last Mission to Tokyo. He is also a partner at the international law firm Curtis Mallet-Prevost and a Lecturer at Columbia Law School. He has appeared on or written for the PBS NewsHour, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Netflix, NPR, The AtlanticThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Lawfare, Just Security, Articles of War, among other publications. He is a fellow at the Center on National Security and the National Institute for Military Justice. He was awarded his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Campion Scholar, and received his law degree from Fordham Law School in New York.

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