During his long, distinguished career, Chester L. Cooper has served in the White House, State Department, and CIA, often as a deputy to such high-profile statesman as John Foster Dulles and Averell Harriman. He has been near the center of power during many of the crises of our nation’s recent history.
In this engrossing memoir, he offers an insider’s glimpse into the memorable events and important decisions in which he personally participated — from the conflict over the Suez Canal in 1956 and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 to the difficult peace negotiations of the Viet Nam War, dealing with Soviet officials during the Reagan years, and today addressing the problems of global climate change.
Cooper notes that policy-making "does not emerge, like Venus, wholly formed from a half shell. Rather, it is fashioned, or cobbled up, from day to day, month to month out of vexations, arguments, failures, and triumphs of hard-pressed, over-stressed officials and civil servants." As one of those over-stressed civil servants, Cooper has unique, behind-the-scenes insights into the personalities of many now historic individuals, including Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Allen Dulles, John Foster Dulles, Averell Harriman, Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson, Nikita Khrushchev, and Ho Chi Minh.
Cooper’s reflections on the friendships, animosities, and enduring relationships within the network of government insiders reveal the human side of policy-making and offer important lessons for the future course of international relations.