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Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71
     

Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71

by Douglas Brinkley
 

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Dean Acheson is best remembered as President Harry Truman's powerful secretary of state, the American father of NATO, and a major architect of U.S. foreign policy in the decade following the Second World War. But Acheson also played a major role in politics and foreign affairs after his tenure in the Truman administration, as an important Democratic Party activist

Overview

Dean Acheson is best remembered as President Harry Truman's powerful secretary of state, the American father of NATO, and a major architect of U.S. foreign policy in the decade following the Second World War. But Acheson also played a major role in politics and foreign affairs after his tenure in the Truman administration, as an important Democratic Party activist and theorist during the Eisenhower presidency and as a valued adviser during the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. This engrossing book, the first to chronicle Acheson's postsecretarial career, paints a portrait of a brilliant, irascible, and powerful man acting during a turbulent period in American history.
Drawing on the recently opened Acheson papers as well as on interviews with Acheson's family and with leading public figures of the era, Douglas Brinkley tells an intriguing tale that is part biography, part diplomatic history, and part politics. Brinkley considers Acheson's role in numerous NATO-related debates and task forces, the Berlin and Cuban missile crises, Vietnam War decision-making, the Cyprus dispute of 1964, the anti-de Gaulle initiative of the 1960s, and U.S.-African policy. He describes Acheson as a staunch anticommunist with a persistent Eurocentric focus, a man who was intolerant of American leaders such as George Kennan, J. William Fulbright, and Walter Lippmann for opposing his views, and who often feuded with JFK, LBJ, Robert McNamara, and Dean Rusk. Finally, angered at the activities of anti-Vietnam War liberal Democrats, Acheson found himself in 1969 serving as one of Nixon's most important unofficial foreign policy advisers. Throughout this time, Acheson stayed in the public eye, helped by the six books he wrote after he left office (including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Present at the Creation), his television appearances, lectures, testimony before Congress, and correspondence with European statesmen. Brinkley's book illuminates Acheson as elder statesman and reveals how a unique individual was able to influence policy-making and public opinion without the official trappings of office.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Considered a major architect of postwar foreign policy, Acheson (1893-1971) served as Truman's Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953. This eminently readable study, however, doesn't focus on his career in office, but rather on his last 18 years as an oft-consulted elder statesman. During this period, Brinkley shows, Acheson continued to play a prominent role in domestic politics by providing the Democratic Party with well-articulated positions for the 1956 and 1960 presidential elections, as well as in foreign affairs. Between 1960 and his death he served as head of several NATO task forces, as special envoy to France and as foreign-policy adviser to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He also found time to write six well-received books, including Present at the Creation , which won a Pulitzer Prize. Incorporating new material in this well-rounded portrait, Brinkley conveys the broad scope of Acheson's fertile mind, his personal integrity, and his diplomatic acumen--as well as some of his unattractive characteristics, such as his egotism, arrogance, intolerance and a caustic wit that could turn vicious. Brinkley is an assistant professor of history at Hofstra in New York. Photos. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Acheson was one of those politicians who, though out of power, remained influential in the background. Brinkley (coauthor with Townsend Hoopes of Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal , LJ 4/1/92) provides us with a solid and eminently readable portrait of Acheson's life after his retirement as Harry Truman's secretary of state. Describing Acheson's years in the wilderness during the Eisenhower presidency, he explains how John F. Kennedy's arrival on the scene enabled Acheson to perform the role of elder statesman and presidential adviser to both Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Especially interesting is Acheson's reconciliation with Richard Nixon, a man whom Acheson had bitterly detested while serving as secretary of state. Both men, however, shared a similar realist view of foreign policy, and Nixon sought Acheson's advice on a range of issues. Brinkley's book is important for understanding not only Acheson but also the conduct of American foreign policy between 1953 and 1971. Highly recommended.-- Ed Goedeken, Purdue Univ. Libs., West Lafayette, Ind.
Booknews
Part diplomatic history, part political history, and part biography, based on the recently opened Acheson papers as well as on interviews with Acheson's family and leading public figures of the era. Illuminates Acheson as elder statesman and shows his influence on policy-making and public opinion, even when serving in no official capacity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300060751
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
08/01/1994
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
446
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at "Vanity Fair". "The Chicago Tribune" has dubbed him "America's new past master." Six of his books have been selected as "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year. His most recent book, "The Great Deluge", won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.

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