AS I SAW IT by Dean with Richard Rusk Rusk


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When Dean Rusk became JFK's Secretary of State, he pledged never to write a memoir Strictly speaking, the elder statesman (now 81) has kept his promise. At any rate, the autobiographical recollections at hand were dictated to an adult son who put them into publishable form and added personal commentary that helps put the nominal author into human-scale focus. The man who emerges from the lengthy text nonetheless remains something of a mystery. A Georgia farm boy who compiled a long and largely distinguished record in public service, Rusk worked his way through Davidson and earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. During WW II, he was an aide to General Joseph Stillwell in the CBI, moving later to the State Department, where he stayed after the war as an assistant secretary under George Marshall and Dean Acheson. Subsequently named president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Rusk returned in 1961 to Washington and stayed on through the LBJ Administration. The Vietnam War was the central issue of these divisive years, and Rusk eloquently argues the case for US military intervention. As with other turning-point events, however, he offers precious little idea of his own views. In consequence, Rusk seems more the good soldier, loyal to a fault, than the man of peace his post-government teaching career would suggest. In brief, then, a tantalizing testament from an American internationalist whose stubborn integrity and allegiances have gained him censure as well as honor.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1990
Publisher: Norton