Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War

Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War

by Robert L. Beisner
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Oxford University Press


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Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War

Dean Acheson was one of the most influential Secretaries of State in U.S. history, presiding over American foreign policy during a pivotal era—the decade after World War II when the American Century slipped into high gear. During his vastly influential career, Acheson spearheaded the greatest foreign policy achievements in modern times, ranging from the Marshall Plan to the establishment of NATO.

In this acclaimed biography, Robert L. Beisner paints an indelible portrait of one of the key figures of the last half-century. In a book filled with insight based on research in government archives, memoirs, letters, and diaries, Beisner illuminates Acheson's major triumphs, including the highly underrated achievement of converting West Germany and Japan from mortal enemies to prized allies, and does not shy away from examining his missteps. But underlying all his actions, Beisner shows, was a tough-minded determination to outmatch the strength of the Soviet bloc—indeed, to defeat the Soviet Union at every turn. The book also sheds light on Acheson's friendship with Truman—one, a bourbon-drinking mid-Westerner with a homespun disposition, the other, a mustachioed Connecticut dandy who preferred perfect martinis.

Over six foot tall, with steel blue, "merry, searching eyes" and a "wolfish" grin, Dean Acheson was an unforgettable character—intellectually brilliant, always debonair, and tough as tempered steel. This lustrous portrait of an immensely accomplished and colorful life is the epitome of the biographer's art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195045789
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/16/2006
Pages: 832
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Robert L. Beisner is Professor of History Emeritus at American University. A former president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, he lives in Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

Definitions of Acronyms and Abbreviations
1. Introduction: "The Shiniest Fish that Ever Came Out of the Sea"
Part I
2. Rare Meat: Adding Reach to Power
3. Patterns of Peril: Joining the Cold Warriors
4. Rome and Carthage: The Truman Doctrine
5. The Marshall Plan and the Return to Private Life
Part II
6. The Inner and Outer Acheson
7. Acheson, the President, and the State Department
8. Keeping the Americans In, the Russians Out, and the Germans Down, 1949
9. Strategy in Europe: Backing the West, Probing the East
10. Looking for Chance in China, 1949
11. Neither Wood nor Ivory: Checkmated in China, 1949-1950
12. Other Early Encounters with Asia and the Middle East
Part III
13. Weapons: The H-Bomb
14. Words: NSC-68, Public Opinion, and Total Diplomacy
15. Real Diplomacy, in Europe, 1949-1950
16. Plunge into the Unkown: The United States, Indochina, and China on the Eve of the Korean War
17. Friends in Place: Acheson and Alger Hiss
18. Evil Days
Part IV
19. Testing Ground-Korea
20. In the Cockpit
21. Prodding Evolution with Action: German Rearmament
22. Acceleration from a Running Start
Part V
23. In Thrall: Ironic Failures in Korea
24. Job's Comforter and the Mad Satrap
25. Captives of War
26. At Different Ends of the Triangle: Domestic Debates, European Armies, British Allies
Part VI
27. Command in Japan
28. Failure in Indochina and China
29. Razor Edge Sensibilities: ANZUS and India
30. Falling between Two Stools: The Middle East, North Africa, and Africa
31. Picking Up Sticks in Egypt and Iran
32. Jousting with Mosadeq, Waiting for Nasser
33. Latin America: Critical, but not Serious
Part VII
34. Lisbon to Letdown: The Fate of the EDC
35. Apples of Discord: Germany and the Soviet Union, 1952
36. Scope for the Exercise of Every Vital Power

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Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well documented book on Dean Acheson. The meat of the book is on of World War II and the cold war. It filled in so many gaps on this intriguing secretary of state. I loved it.