Taking on the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Guardians of the American Century

Robert W. Merry, Author
Robert W. Merry, Author Viking Books $34.95 (672p) ISBN 978-0-670-83868-4
Reviewed on: 01/29/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
Paperback - 672 pages - 978-0-14-014984-5
Paperback - 644 pages - 978-1-4679-0184-0
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Educated at Groton, Harvard and Yale, the Connecticut-Yankee Alsops formed a postwar journalistic partnership with a New York Herald Tribune column read by millions. ``At every crisis and critical juncture,'' writes Merry, ``they were there to give expression to the principles and impulses that guided the nation's foreign-policy leaders and shaped its role in the world.'' Their illuminating commentary on the great issues of the day, from the end of WWII to the fall of Saigon in 1975, was a chronicle of the old order's disintegration as well, according to Merry. McCarthyism was seen as an assault on the WASP elite; the 1956 Suez crisis, principally a humiliation for the British, as a weakening of the authority of establishment Anglo-Saxons; while the war in Vietnam completed the process. In this richly detailed double bio, Merry brings the brothers themselves into three-dimensional view--Stewart (1914-1974), the plainspoken, dispassionate realist; Joseph (1912-1989), the hyperbolic gadfly--and describes how they helped define the end of the American century. As much social and cultural history as biography, the book should have wide appeal. Merry is a former Wall Street Journal Washington correspondent. Photos. (Jan.)
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