The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made with a new introduction by the authors

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Six close friends shaped the role their country would play in the dangerous years following World War II. They were the original best and brightest, whose towering intellects, outsize personalities, and dramatic actions would bring order to the postwar chaos, and whose strong response to Soviet expansionism would leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day.

In April 1945, they converged to advise an untutored new president, Harry Truman. They were Averell Harriman,...

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Overview

Six close friends shaped the role their country would play in the dangerous years following World War II. They were the original best and brightest, whose towering intellects, outsize personalities, and dramatic actions would bring order to the postwar chaos, and whose strong response to Soviet expansionism would leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day.

In April 1945, they converged to advise an untutored new president, Harry Truman. They were Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt’s special envoy to Churchill and Stalin; Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was more responsible for the Truman Doctrine than Truman and for the Marshall Plan than General Marshall; George Kennan, selfcast outsider and intellectual darling of the Washington elite; Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war, undersecretary of state, and secretary of defense throughout the formative years of the Cold War; John McCloy, one of the nation’s most influential private citizens; and Charles Bohlen, adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Together they formulated a doctrine of Communist containment that was to be the foundation of American policy, and years later, when much of what they stood for appeared to be sinking in the mire of Vietnam, they were summoned for their steady counsel. It was then that they were dubbed “the Wise Men.” Working in an atmosphere of trust that in today’s Washington would seem quaint, they shaped a new world order that committed a once-reticent nation to defending freedom wherever it sought to flourish.

A collective biography of the best and brightest--Harriman, Acheson, Kennan, McCloy, Lovett, and Bohlen and their foreign policies which dominate our actions to this day.

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Editorial Reviews

The Boston Globe
“A wealth of new information and insights on the people and events that shaped the first four decades of the Cold War.”
Robert A. Caro
“Must be read if we are to understand the postwar world.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Isaacson and Thomas have fashioned a Cold War Plutarch.”
New York Times Book Review
“A richly textured account of a class and of a historical period.”
From the Publisher
The Boston Globe A wealth of new information and insights on the people and events that shaped the first four decades of the Cold War.

Robert A. Caro author of Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Journalism at the heights! Scintillating....Must be read if we are to understand the postwar world.

San Francisco Chronicle Entertaining and lively....Isaacson and Thomas have fashioned a Cold War Plutarch.

The New York Times Book Review A richly textured account of a class and of a historical period.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451683226
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 864
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography.
Evan Thomas is the author of The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the C.I.A.; Robert Kennedy: His Life; The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1989; Sea of Thunder: The Last Great Naval Command, 1941-1945; and John Paul Jones. He is at work on a book about President Dwight Eisenhower.

Biography

Rhodes Scholar, historian, and bestselling author Walter Isaacson began his distinguished career as a journalist -- first for London's Sunday Times, then for The Times-Picayune/States-Item, published in his hometown of New Orleans. He joined Time magazine in 1978, working his way up from political correspondent to managing editor in a little less than two decades. He served for two years as chairman and CEO of the cable TV news network CNN; then, in 2003, he became president of the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit organization "dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue." In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he was appointed vice-chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and he serves on a number of policy-making boards and councils.

In literary circles, Isaacson is best known as the writer of magisterial biographies, scholarly and meticulously researched, yet immensely entertaining. His first book, however, was a collaborative effort. Co-written with award-winning journalist Evan Thomas, and published in 1986, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made explores the lives of six men who shaped government and public policy in the years following WWII. Examining an era too recent to be called history and too distant to qualify as current affairs, the book received mixed reviews but was universally praised for its ambitious scope and elegant style.

Isaacson's subsequent biographies, all solo efforts (and all critically acclaimed), have chronicled the lives of such disparate figures as Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. He explains what has drawn him to such widely divergent subjects -- men, who on the surface would appear to have very little in common: "I like writing about people with interesting minds. I try to explore the various aspects of intelligence: common sense, wisdom, creativity, imagination, mental processing power, emotional understanding, and moral values. Which of these traits are the most important? How do they make someone an influential or significant or good person?"

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    1. Date of Birth:
      May 20, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      New Orleans, LA
    1. Education:
      Harvard, B.A. in History and Literature, 1974; Oxford (Rhodes Scholar), M.A. in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics

Table of Contents

Introduction 13

Architects of the American Century 17

1 Gathering 37

1 World of Their Own/To the manner born 39

2 Tap Days/"To run with the swift" 65

3 Joint Ventures/Harriman and Lovett on Wall Street 98

4 World Courts/McCloy and Acheson before the bar 119

5 A Pretty Good Club/Kennan and Bohlen in the Foreign Service 140

6 On Active Service/Enlisting in a noble cause 179

7 Heavenly Twins/McCloy and Lovett at the War Department 191

8 Missions to Moscow/Harriman, Acheson, Bohlen and Kennan wrestle with a biting bear 210

2 Creation 251

9 Words of One Syllable/The education of Harry Truman 253

10 Line down the Middle/Splitting Germany and the atom 288

11 The Blinding Dawn/Diplomacy in an atomic age 314

12 Containment/Sensitive to the logic of force 347

13 Order from Chaos/"Like apples in a barrel" 386

14 "Simple Honest Men"/The selling of the Marshall Plan 419

15 Crisis/"Will Russia move first?" 439

16 "A Different World"/Of Super bombs and primitives 480

17 War/"No weakness of purpose here" 505

18 Nadir/Disaster at the Yalu 535

19 Exile/The wilderness years 559

3 Wise Men 587

20 Passing the Torch/"No, sir, my bearings are burnt out" 589

21 Twilight Struggles/Reunion at the brink 605

22 LBJ's Establishment/"! told the President he was wholly right" 642

23 Judgment Days/Last Supper of the Wise Men 676

24 Legacy/"Never in such good company" 714

Acknowledgments 742

Notes 745

Sources 809

Index 833

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