The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (Unabridged)
by Evan Thomas, Walter Isaacson
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Six close friends 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 whose strong response to Soviet expansionism would leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day. In April 1945, they converged to advise an untutored new president, Harry Truman. They were 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. Together they formulated a doctrine of Communist containment that was to be the foundation of American policy, and years later, when much of what they stood for appeared to be sinking in the mire of Vietnam, they were summoned for their steady counsel. It was then that they were dubbed “the Wise Men.” Working in an atmosphere of trust that in today’s Washington would seem quaint, they shaped a new world order that committed a once-reticent nation to defending freedom wherever it sought to flourish.
Is the title meant to be ironic?
I bought this book back in the 90’s, but never read it. The work was long and the paperback was awkward, and I never made the time. So I was glad when the audiobook showed up here. Finally, I’ll get some real wisdom to distract me from the current Commie stooge in the White House. Much to my shock, there was hardly an ounce of “wisdom” between the six subjects. They supported FDR across the board; the man who had so many Communists on staff, it should have been called the Red House. When Stalin entered WWII on the Nazi side, they overlooked it. When the Soviets massacred hundreds of Polish officers, they hushed it up. When Stalin stole the A-bomb plans, they justified it. When the six said the Russians won’t advance, Stalin took Eastern Europe. When they said he’ll stop there, the Soviets and their minions marched into Iran, China, and S. Korea. They even tried to take Japan. Again and again and again for 50 years, these guys were wrong time and again and caused every problem we have now. And the author lauded them for it. He praises the support for Alger Hiss and Klaus Fuchs and conveniently overlooks Harry Dexter White and the dozens of other Communists who played FDR like a toy whistle and stole everything they could to give the Soviets the advantage in a world we made. And those are Wise Men? J-F-C!!! Let me sum this is up in one line. The author and these six praised everything overwrought and complicated, to justify their work; and berated everything simple and straightforward that actually works.
Right up to the very end, the Six and the author attack President Reagan for his War rhetoric, but they never mention a, that it worked to topple Communism or b, they never mention the Russian influence in Iraq, Cambodia’s killing fields, the invasion of Afghanistan, or the attacks on Solidarity in Poland. Doesn’t wisdom involve balance? Let alone, blatant offenses against humanity? If No, you’ll like this book.
The problem with releasing a book like this 30 years after most of the players have passed is, that’s enough time to see how wrong they were. The benefit of releasing a book like this 30 years on, is most people will only read the title and accept the premise without review. That's how we got the current Commie stooge.
The read is fine. The engineering is good. the topic is sweeping. The title misses the point by 180°. That about covers it. I couldn’t be more disappointed.