Books: Privileged Heirlooms

PRESENT AT THE CREATION by Dean Acheson. 798 pages. W. W. Norton. $12.50 to Dec. 31, then $15.

Twenty years ago, only a Metternich might have appreciated Dean Acheson, that rarest of all Americans, the model diplomat. Excessively sharp of mind and tongue—and not at all afraid to show the biting edge of either—Acheson was not destined for public popularity as Harry Truman's Secretary of State, particularly in an era when careers could be smashed overnight by little more than whispered innuendoes of "Communist" or "leftwing" sympathies. Present confusions and elapsed time, however,...

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