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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
University Archives & Manuscripts - Exhibits
Kenneth S. Davis: Novelist Trapped in History

The Eisenhower Years

Ike & World War II

In 1944, while working as a temporary instructor in the Department of Industrial Journalism and Printing at Kansas State College, Davis was urged by Milton Eisenhower, the college president, to write a biography of Eisenhower's brother, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Davis was granted war correspondent status attached to SHAEF by Doubleday and Company in London and Normandy during World War II, being attached to General Eisenhower's headquarters, he started collecting research material for his book. The biography, published in 1945, titled Soldier of Democracy: A Biography of Dwight Eisenhower, was the beginning of Davis' history writing career.

Eisenhower's camp, Bayern
"Taken at Eisenhower's personal camp between Bayern and St. Lo, in Normandy. August (probably) of 1944."

Handwritten on back of photo

book cover title page
Kenneth S. Davis. General Eisenhower: Soldier of Democracy, From Boyhood to Supreme Commander. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.), 1949

"Whatever a man really is, deep inside him, is likely to be revealed in such a moment, or in a succession of such moments. Later it may stand out for all the world to see, focused in the pitiless light of history."

Page 3

Boyhood of our next president, 1 boyhood of our next president, 4 boyhood of our next president, 15

book cover
Kenneth S. Davis. Eisenhower, American Hero. (New York: American Heritage Publishing Company, Inc.), 1969

"The character of the man is self-evident on every page of this book. 'Ike.' Like 'Abe,' he will own that homely, affectionate name for as long as this nation's history is honored."

From Book Jacket

book cover
Kenneth S. Davis. The American Experience of War, 1939-1945. (London: Secker & Warburg), 1965.

"On the evening of Friday, February 24, 1939, a short, disheveled man with grizzled hair upon his head and a worried frown upon his face took a walk along the East River in New York, accompanied by his wife, Florence, and a small brown dachshund named Einstein. It was a walk which neither the man nor his wife would ever forget."

Chapter 1
"To the Edge of the Abyss"
Page 3

Davis with manuscript, Dec 1964 Princeton authors reception Princeton authors reception

book cover
Kenneth S. Davis, ed. Arms, Industry and America. (New York: The H. W. Wilson Company), 1971

"Out of the total war of 1939-45 emerged total weapons– weapons capable of destroying all life on Earth within a few hours, and possibly the Earth itself as a physical entity–so that the disparity between destructive power and humane intelligence, in the absence of effective control, was far wider than ever before in all history. In consequence, weapons technology became of itself a dominant ruling force in the world; it determined of itself alone the acts, the thoughts, the feelings of millions of men."

Page 6

Milton & The United Nations

In 1946, Davis returned to Kansas State College as a half-time Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Journalism and Printing. He also served as part-time college editor and received a federal appointment as a part-time assistant to President Milton Eisenhower in his capacity as chairman of the United States national commission for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He was a member of the UNESCO staff of the State Department.

UNESCO was founded on 16 November 1945. For this specialized United Nations agency, it is not enough to build classrooms in devastated countries or to publish scientific breakthroughs. UNESCO has a far more ambitious goal: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."

UNESCO is unique among the United Nations Organizations in that its charter specifically calls for the creation of a National Commission in each member state. Milton Eisenhower was the first chair of the National Commission.

Davis' federal appointment ended in 1949, though he continued to serve as college editor until he resigned in 1951 to devote his full time to writing.

letter, 04 Apr 1947 Letter, 08 Apr 1947

UNESCO speech, 1947
First page of a 20 page speech Davis gave to the League of Women Voters on October 14, 1947 in Topeka, Kansas.

Unesco certificate Unesco Badge

UNESCO collecting old books to aid China. Kenneth S. Davis on left, Milton Eisenhower second from right.

Milton Eisenhower and Ken, Beirut
Milton Eisenhower, Chairman of the U. S. National Commission for UNESCO and President of Kansas State College, and Kenneth S. Davis in Beirut, ca. 1948-1949.

Plenary meeting, Beirut, ca 1948-1949
Members of the U. S. Delegation to the Third General Conference of UNESCO in Beirut, pictured at one of the plenary sessions are, left to right: Mrs. Louise Wright, director, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations; Dr. Stephen Penrose, president, American University of Beirut; Mrs. Anne O'Hare McCormick, columnist, New York Times; Joseph Rosier, president emeritus, Fairmont State Teachers College, Fairmont, W. Va.; Kenneth Davis, special assistant to Milton S. Eisenhower, Chairman of the U. S. National Commission for UNESCO; Mrs. Kathleen Lardie, Detroit radio authority; Jesse MacKnight, Department of State; George F. Zook, president, American Council on Education; and Waldo G. Leland, director emeritus, American Council of Learned Societies.

Meeting Meeting Meeting