Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War

Paperback | April 15, 2009

byRobert L. Beisner

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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 thegreatest foreign policy achievements in modern times, ranging from the Marshall Plan to the establishment of NATO. Now, in this monumental 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 policy-making, describing how heled the state department and managed his relationship with Truman, all to illuminate the vital policies he initiated in his years at State. The book examines Acheson's major triumphs, including the highly underrated achievement of converting West Germany and Japan from mortal enemies to prizedallies, 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 emotional center of the book focuses on Acheson's friendship with Truman. No pair seemed so poorly matched - one, a bourbon-drinking mid-Westerner with a homespun disposition, the other, a mustachioed Connecticut dandy who preferred perfect martinis - yet no such team ever worked bettertogether. Acheson's unstinting dedication to an often unpopular president was reciprocated with deep gratitude and loyalty. Together, they redrew the map of the post-war world. 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 thebiographer's art.

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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 thegreatest foreign policy achievements in modern tim...

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.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:832 pages, 9.2 × 6.1 × 1.9 inPublished:April 15, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019538248X

ISBN - 13:9780195382488

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsDefinitions of Acronyms and Abbreviations1. Introduction: "The Shiniest Fish that Ever Came Out of the Sea"Part I2. Rare Meat: Adding Reach to Power3. Patterns of Peril: Joining the Cold Warriors4. Rome and Carthage: The Truman Doctrine5. The Marshall Plan and the Return to Private LifePart II6. The Inner and Outer Acheson7. Acheson, the President, and the State Department8. Keeping the Americans In, the Russians Out, and the Germans Down, 19499. Strategy in Europe: Backing the West, Probing the East10. Looking for Chance in China, 194911. Neither Wood nor Ivory: Checkmated in China, 1949-195012. Other Early Encounters with Asia and the Middle EastPart III13. Weapons: The H-Bomb14. Words: NSC-68, Public Opinion, and Total Diplomacy15. Real Diplomacy, in Europe, 1949-195016. Plunge into the Unkown: The United States, Indochina, and China on the Eve of the Korean War17. Friends in Place: Acheson and Alger Hiss18. Evil DaysPart IV19. Testing Ground-Korea20. In the Cockpit21. Prodding Evolution with Action: German Rearmament22. Acceleration from a Running StartPart V23. In Thrall: Ironic Failures in Korea24. Job's Comforter and the Mad Satrap25. Captives of War26. At Different Ends of the Triangle: Domestic Debates, European Armies, British AlliesPart VI27. Command in Japan28. Failure in Indochina and China29. Razor Edge Sensibilities: ANZUS and India30. Falling between Two Stools: The Middle East, North Africa, and Africa31. Picking Up Sticks in Egypt and Iran32. Jousting with Mosadeq, Waiting for Nasser33. Latin America: Critical, but not SeriousPart VII34. Lisbon to Letdown: The Fate of the EDC35. Apples of Discord: Germany and the Soviet Union, 195236. Scope for the Exercise of Every Vital Power37. Conclusion: Power for a PurposeA Note to the ReaderNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In this exhaustively researched and finely written book, Robert L. Beisner has given us what must surely be the definitive study of one of America's most important diplomats. A remarkable achievement." --Randall B Woods, Reviews in American History