Schoenbaum's meticulously researched but unevenly written book portrays Rusk as much more than Lyndon Johnson's hawkish Secretary of State. What emerges is the image of an intelligent, intensely loyal and at times witty individual whose capacity for work was virtually unlimited. The author shows that Rusk's role as the government's protagonist in the Vietnam war has overshadowed his contributions to world peace. The secretary's deft use of the United Nation as a diplomatic tool, his involvement in major crises of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and his close relationship with the three presidents he served establish that he was, if not the most stylish, probably the most influential Secretary of State in history, according to Schoenbaum. Although the book is peppered with unstartling asides about world leaders (Kennedy was a womanizer, DeGaulle detested the United States, Truman didn't get along with MacArthur) and awkward passages about American lifestyles of the '50s and '60s, it will be of value to those seeking to enhance their understanding of world affairs during this turbulent period. Schoenbaum teaches law at the University of Georgia. (June)
An important biography of one of the most dominant but least understood 20th-century American public figures. For almost a generation Rusk exerted significant influence over decisions of war and peace. Heretofore, historians have drawn a one-dimensional portrait of Rusk and his prosecution of the Vietnam conflict. This study emphasizes Rusk's influence on many other questions of national and international importance. While this work does not replace Warren I. Cohen's Dean Rusk ( LJ 1/1/81), it places Rusk's career in the context of the latest scholarship. An unbiased account of the secrets to Rusk's advancements as well as his foibles. Highly recommended to scholars and laypersons. Charles E. Kratz, Hofstra Univ. Lib., Hempstead, N.Y.