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Chester Bowles: New Dealer in Cold War

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When Harry Truman named him ambassador to India in 1951, Chester Bowles was already a prominent figure in American public life - a onetime advertising mogul, wartime administrator, governor of Connecticut - and yet his past hardly presaged the turn his path would take in Asia. Over the next two decades, at home and abroad, Bowles would become one of the leading liberal lights in American foreign policy, a New Dealer often at odds with the stiffening cold war conservatism of his time, His biography is also the ...
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Overview

When Harry Truman named him ambassador to India in 1951, Chester Bowles was already a prominent figure in American public life - a onetime advertising mogul, wartime administrator, governor of Connecticut - and yet his past hardly presaged the turn his path would take in Asia. Over the next two decades, at home and abroad, Bowles would become one of the leading liberal lights in American foreign policy, a New Dealer often at odds with the stiffening cold war conservatism of his time, His biography is also the story of America finding its place in a changing world, a story of remarkable relevance to our own post-cold war era. Howard Schaffer, a former ambassador and seasoned Foreign Service officer, worked closely with Bowles in India and Washington and is able to offer a colorful firsthand portrayal of the man, as well as an insider's view of American foreign policy in the making. Bowles's indefatigable energy, inspired idealism, and humanitarian instincts leave their mark on these pages - as do his stubbornness, his cultural blinders, and his failure to master the game of bureaucratic politics. We see him in his sometimes exhilarating and ultimately frustrating struggle to influence the leaders and policy makers of his day - as twice ambassador to India, Democratic party foreign policy spokesman, congressman from Connecticut, foreign policy adviser to John F. Kennedy, under secretary to Dean Rusk at the State Department, and President Kennedy's special adviser on Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Drawing on a wealth of documents and interviews with some of the nation's top foreign policy makers in the post-World War II years, Schaffer shows us Bowles in his tireless attempt to advance an alternative approach to international relations during those decades, one defined less in military than in economic terms, focused less on the struggle for power with the Soviet Union in Europe than on the contest with China over the fate of Third World countries. "Only the his

This biography of Chester Bowles is also the story of America finding its place in a changing world--remarkably relevant to our own post-cold war era. Former ambassador Schaffer draws on a wealth of documents and interviews with some of the nation's top foreign policy makers in the post-WWII years. 22 halftones.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Retired diplomat Schaffer has written the first biography of his late colleague Bowles, governor of Connecticut, twice ambassador to India (appointed by Truman and Kennedy), and JFK's undersecretary of state. Bowles's legacy was his belief in the centrality of the Third World to U.S. interests, his commitment to Third World rural development, and an abiding liberal idealism. But Bowles's verbose style put off presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Dean Rusk, and others; he was frequently written off as naive; and, because he was not adept at bureaucratic politics, Bowles's concrete achievements were modest. In fact, through primary research and dozens of interviews, Schaffer has made such a competent case for Bowles as a marginal figure that one wonders who would wish to read the book. Recommended for libraries collecting intensively in the history of U.S. foreign relations.-- Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.
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