Present at the Creation: My Years at the State Department

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With deft portraits of many world figures, Dean Acheson analyzes the processes of policy making, the necessity for decision, and the role of power and initiative in matters of state.
Acheson (1893–1971) was not only present at the creation of the postwar world, he was one of its chief architects. He joined the Department of State in 1941 as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and, with brief intermissions, was continuously involved until 1953, when he left office as Secretary of State at the end of the Truman years.
Throughout that time Acheson's was one of the most influential minds and strongest wills at work. It was a period that included World War II, the reconstruction of Europe, the Korean War, the development of nuclear power, the formation of the United Nations and NATO. It involved him at close quarters with a cast that starred Truman, Roosevelt, Churchill, de Gaulle, Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Attlee, Eden Bevin, Schuman, Dulles, de Gasperi, Adenauer, Yoshida, Vishinsky, and Molotov.

"As autobiography (this book) is enthralling, as history indispensable, as a manual on government and diplomacy invaluable."--Wallace Carroll, New York Times Book Review. Photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Gaddis Smith
β€œThe passing decades confirm Dean Acheson's place as the clearest thinking, most effective Secretary of State of the twentieth century. As a writer he has no equal since Thomas Jefferson first occupied the office in the eighteenth century.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393304121
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1987
  • Pages: 842
  • Sales rank: 230,102
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Dean Acheson (1893-1971) was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2003

    The Real Stuff--From Both Ends of the Horse

    Acheson writes beautifully with a subtle humor--which proves that he was a literate man. His title is revealing---one suspects that he considers himself the Creator, and I would be inclined to agree. I would add a subtitle to Present at the Creation. It would be: Present at the Creation--Or the Beginning of Liberalism as We Know It. Here in one book we see all the thinking and machinations that led to the American Liberal Agenda, an agenda that was the 'creation' primarily of three men, Truman, Marshall, and Acheson. The author must believe this too because he acknowledges the roles of Truman and Marshall while modestly leaving himself out of the triumvirate. The book, however, focuses on Acheson as good memoirs should. In this writer's opinion, Truman, Marshall, and Acheson presided over the worst period in American diplomatic history. It was a six-year period that saw communism dominate Asia and Eastern Europe. It was a period that saw the birth of 'international thinking' of the type that would later threaten our national sovereignty. While communism may, today, be contained--not because of the policies of Truman, Marshall, and Acheson, but because of the almost opposite policies of Ronald Reagan--the 'international thinking' still reigns supreme and threatens to turn U. S. foreign policy over to a 'higher authority.' We see in Acheson's work the genesis of the disastrous Korean and Viet Nam Wars, both of which left American foreign policy in shambles. We see fear and timidity in high level thinking even before the USSR had the Bomb. All of this remains today within the premise of liberal thinking. No one can fault the literary quality of 'Present at the Creation',--it was masterfully written--but no one, other than die-hard liberals, can applaud the events and style of thinking it describes. Wayne Robbins Nashville, Tennessee

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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