Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War

Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War by Robert L. Beisner, reviewed by .

"In the immediate aftermath of World War II, leaders of the victors had little sense of where they now stood. At first, it was unclear if new quarrels among the allies were transitory or the first round of a new conflict.... With the United States armed with nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union about to develop its own, with European empires crumbling and sharp disputes erupting in Iran, Greece, and Germany, tensions between east and west worsened. By 1950, armies again fired on one another, in Asia, thousands of miles from Washington and Moscow. The cold war was well under way, to last nearly a half century.... Some of the most significant milestones of the cold war occurred while Harry S Truman was president..... Because the president was the responsible party, the subject of any sentence summarizing U.S. foreign policy in Acheson's era must be Truman. But scrutiny of the evidence highlights Acheson's highly visible influence, first as under secretary (1945-47) and then secretary of state (1945-53).... Both as under secretary and secretary of state, Acheson made the strongest record in European and military-strategic affairs."

I would recommend reading the first and last chapter of the book to help the reader focus on Acheson's challenges to lay a strategic plan suited to the United States' best interests. Rebuilding Japan and Germany to become key contributors to the world economy was a gift Acheson left for future generations to enjoy.