HOPE AND HISTORY by William J. vanden Heuvel

HOPE AND HISTORY

A Memoir of Tumultuous Times
Age Range: 1964 - 1968
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A well-respected American diplomat looks back on his life and career.

Born in 1930 to a working-class family in Rochester, New York, vanden Heuvel (On His Own: Robert F. Kennedy, 1964-1968, 1970, etc.) grew up in Franklin Roosevelt’s America, and he is one of the greatest champions of FDR’s tidal wave of justice, which he sees as continued during the tenure of Lyndon Johnson. The author attended Deep Springs College, a Western ranch serving as a school to enrich self-governance and develop leadership and public conscience. He continued his education at Cornell University, where he earned a law degree and served as editor-in-chief of the college’s law review. He writes glowingly of his mentors, Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and the International League for Human Rights; and William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the Office of Strategic Services, who gave vanden Heuvel his first position in his law firm. More importantly, Donovan took him as a personal aide when he was appointed ambassador to Thailand, and they were in Saigon to witness the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The author’s insight into the politics of those fraught times is clear and straightforward, and he provides an interesting look at the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and the “revolution of rising expectations.” Working as a special assistant to Attorney Genereal Robert F. Kennedy, he was tasked with leading school desegregation efforts in Virginia. His days as chair of the New York City Board of Corrections brought the prison crisis of Attica to public view, and as ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva and New York, he delivered a memorable letter decrying the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Though the organization of the book is somewhat scattered, with reproduced speeches dotting the narrative, the author’s career was unquestionably impressive, and his memoir makes for hopeful reading.

Of interest to 20th-century American history buffs and aspiring diplomats.

Pub Date: May 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5017-3817-3
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Cornell Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2019




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