PASSINGS: John S.D. Eisenhower

John S.D. Eisenhower

Historian son of president

John S.D. Eisenhower, 91, the son of a five-star general turned president who forged his own career in the U.S. Army and then chronicled the history of the American military in numerous books, died Saturday, his family said in a statement.

No cause of death was given

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower was born in Denver on Aug. 3, 1922, the second son of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mamie Doud Eisenhower.

Both father and son graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the son on June 6, 1944 — the day his father oversaw the Allied invasion of Europe. John Eisenhower spent 35 years in the Army, including 19 on active duty and several in the Reserve. He retired with the rank of brigadier general.

"My dad being an Army officer, I was just born to it," Eisenhower said in a C-SPAN interview in 1998.

Eisenhower taught English for three years at West Point, then volunteered for service during the Korean War and later became a battalion commander.

He served on his father's White House staff for the last few years of his administration and later helped his father write his post-presidential memoirs. The younger Eisenhower began writing his own books, then served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium during the first years of the Nixon administration. He soon returned to writing, focusing on the military's relationship with government and politics.

"I can't get away from the military," Eisenhower told C-SPAN. "That's my readership. And I don't think I want to."

His books included "The Bitter Woods: The Battle of the Bulge" and "So Far From God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848." He took the latter title from Mexican President Porfirio Diaz's lament: "Alas, poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States!"

He also wrote a memoir about his father, "General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence," as well as a 2008 biography of Zachary Taylor, the 12th president.

His marriage to Barbara Eisenhower ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Joanne, and his four children: daughters Anne, Susan and Mary, and son David, who married President Nixon's daughter Julie.

Times staff and wire reports

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