The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

by Walter Isaacson, Evan Thomas


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With a new introduction by the authors, this is the classic account of the American statesmen who rebuilt the world after the catastrophe of World War II.

A captivating blend of personal biography and public drama, The Wise Men introduces six close friends who shaped the role their country would play in the dangerous years following World War II. They were the original best and brightest, whose towering intellects, outsize personalities, and dramatic actions would bring order to the postwar chaos and leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day: Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt’s special envoy to Churchill and Stalin; Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was more responsible for the Truman Doctrine than Truman and for the Marshall Plan than General Marshall; George Kennan, self-cast outsider and intellectual darling of the Washington elite; Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war, undersecretary of state, and secretary of defense throughout the formative years of the Cold War; John McCloy, one of the nation’s most influential private citizens; and Charles Bohlen, adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476728827
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 864
Sales rank: 24,496
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Walter Isaacson, a professor of history at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Visit him at

Evan Thomas is the author of The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the C.I.A.; Robert Kennedy: His Life; The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1989; Sea of Thunder: The Last Great Naval Command, 1941-1945; and John Paul Jones. His most recent book is Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World.

Date of Birth:

May 20, 1952

Place of Birth:

New Orleans, LA


Harvard, B.A. in History and Literature, 1974; Oxford (Rhodes Scholar), M.A. in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics

Table of Contents

Introduction 13

Architects of the American Century 17

1 Gathering 37

1 World of Their Own/To the manner born 39

2 Tap Days/"To run with the swift" 65

3 Joint Ventures/Harriman and Lovett on Wall Street 98

4 World Courts/McCloy and Acheson before the bar 119

5 A Pretty Good Club/Kennan and Bohlen in the Foreign Service 140

6 On Active Service/Enlisting in a noble cause 179

7 Heavenly Twins/McCloy and Lovett at the War Department 191

8 Missions to Moscow/Harriman, Acheson, Bohlen and Kennan wrestle with a biting bear 210

2 Creation 251

9 Words of One Syllable/The education of Harry Truman 253

10 Line down the Middle/Splitting Germany and the atom 288

11 The Blinding Dawn/Diplomacy in an atomic age 314

12 Containment/Sensitive to the logic of force 347

13 Order from Chaos/"Like apples in a barrel" 386

14 "Simple Honest Men"/The selling of the Marshall Plan 419

15 Crisis/"Will Russia move first?" 439

16 "A Different World"/Of Super bombs and primitives 480

17 War/"No weakness of purpose here" 505

18 Nadir/Disaster at the Yalu 535

19 Exile/The wilderness years 559

3 Wise Men 587

20 Passing the Torch/"No, sir, my bearings are burnt out" 589

21 Twilight Struggles/Reunion at the brink 605

22 LBJ's Establishment/"I told the President he was wholly right" 642

23 Judgment Days/Last Supper of the Wise Men 676

24 Legacy/"Never in such good company" 714

Acknowledgments 742

Notes 745

Sources 809

Index 833

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