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Drawn from diaries, correspondence, speeches, papers, and continuous collaboration, this biography of ""active service in peace and war"" is the record of one of our first citizens, the 80-year old Henry Stimson. He served in some capacity of national trust under every president but Harding, from 1911, when he was Secretary of War under Taft, to 1945 when he retired from five arduous years as Secretary of War under Roosevelt and Truman. His contribution cannot be measured in more words. His apprenticeship was continuous,- in service to his city and state, where he fought the cause of responsible government, and international awareness; in diplomatic and administrative office, as negotiator in Nicaragua under Coolidge, as Governor-General of the Philippines, where he backed policies of economic development and political cooperation. During the period when he was Secretary of State under Hoover, he dealt with problems of disarmament, strengthened relations with Britain, urged drastic action in the Far Eastern crisis- and failed when other nations refused to come along. This period he sees now-and did soon thereafter- as a period of retreat from responsibility, as Hoover (for whom he maintained respect and affection, despite their differences) declared a consulting pact for peace a ""political impossibility"". During the subsequent period, up to 1940, he played a Cassandra role, foreseeing the inevitability of conflict. The major part of the book deals with the years of World War II, when Stimson was an integral part of virtually every move. Though he differed sharply on some of the New Deal policies, and maintained throughout that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a bad administrator, and made things difficult for his fellow-workers, his regard for him on almost every count grew steadily. This is an honest analysis of many of the issues of those years,-questions of the second front, the supreme commander, the difficulties between allies, the failures to realize the commitments of total war, the relations of Army and Navy (he was one of the ardent advocates of unification). He discusses frankly the problem of China- and pays high tribute to Stilwell. He gives some of the behind-the-scenes facts about the Vichy deal, the De Gaulle problem. He weighs the evidence for- and against- Soviet Russia. He tells of the steps leading to the decision to use the atomic bomb. And he discusses the moot questions of peace, concluding that ""our stake in the peace and freedom of the world is not a limited liability""...An absorbing and revealing survey of a great segment of contemporary history, not so news-worthy as some recent books, but sound, objective, reasoned -- the record of a great and simple man.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1948
Publisher: Harper