You mention your grandfather loved westerns. What do you think it was about that genre that he so loved?
Granddad loved westerns because he spent his childhood in Abilene, Kansas and was raised in the lore of the "old west." Only two decades before his birth, "Wild Bill" Hickock had been the chief law enforcement officer in Abilene, a notorious cattle town in the 1870's. The "big skies" setting of westerns also appealed to him, as did the theme of "man against nature" prevalent in many western novels. As a boy, he had been an avid reader of Jack London novels.
Was it hard, growing up, reconciling your impressions of Ike with those of others? You mention, for example, on page 375, how some saw more warmth in him than you didn't see. To quote you, "To me, Dwight Eisenhower had always been imposing and at times unapproachable, and I had never understood why people thought of him as so genial."
I saw DDE as an imposing figure, as larger than life. But as imposing as he was, DDE was the best ally and friend a person could have, and I never doubted he was my ally.
Your stories and anecdotes about Gettysburg brought back lots of memories as my last reporting stint was in Hagerstown, Md and that led me to visit sometimes for pleasure something for stories Gettysburg and Antietam. Have you spent much time back there since the 60s?
Julie and I have visited Antietam several times, and we visit Gettysburg as often as we can. Growing up, I spent many enjoyable Sundays touring Civil War battlefields with my Dad (Gettysburg, Virginia battlefields). On my last visit to Antietam, my young son bought a Yankee cap and a plastic musket so he could storm the "Burnside Bridge."
Touring fields with my Dad and sitting in on civil war discussions between my dad and granddad made me a lifelong devotee of Civil War history. In the years since, trips to WWI and WWII battlefields have proven as interesting. In 1999, my Dad took me on a tour through the Meuse-Argonne sector, following the same itinerary of a trip he had taken through the area with DDE in 1929, seventy years before.
Can you elaborate on a comment you made to the effect that Nixon might have been able to avoid some of what you call "the trouble that brought him grief" if Eisenhower had lived and served in the Nixon administration? Are you alluding to Watergate and/or other Nixon missteps?