Books: The Hexagon the Wise Men

by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas Simon & Schuster; 853 pages; $22.95

They were the Establishment personified: six men who went to the same East Coast schools, chatted at the same Georgetown dinner parties and cozily made American foreign policy for decades. Devoted to serving their country, pragmatists rather than ideologues, internationalists with an instinct for the center, they raised nonpartisanship in diplomacy to an art form. Their names: Averell Harriman, Dean Acheson, Charles ("Chip") Bohlen, George Kennan, Robert Lovett and John McCloy.

When the six began their period of greatest influence, after World War II, the Soviets were our staunch allies, and the thought of becoming international policemen was anathema to a...

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