Books: Acheson

James Chace

Harry Truman's last Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, drove conservative Republicans to spluttering fury. Joe McCarthy jeered at "this pompous diplomat in striped pants." Richard Nixon spoke of Acheson's "Cowardly College of Communist Containment." In retrospect, the abuse seems odd; Acheson proved a tough, decisive realist who welded together the alliance that successfully contained the Soviet bloc until it self-destructed in 1989. Acheson handsomely reproduces the postwar era, the rich supporting cast and a sometimes surprising protagonist who, for all his bespoke elegance and fop's mustache, knew how, occasionally, to throw a punch and how to function otherwise in a dangerous...

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