So Close to Greatness: A Biography of William C. Bullitt

Will Brownell, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $0 (368p) ISBN 978-0-02-517410-8
Bullitt was referred to by Walter Lippmann as ""the sharpest of the American correspondents'' covering World War I. Later, he coauthored with Sigmund Freud a psychological study of Woodrow Wilson. There were, however, relatively minor accomplishments in the sparkling career of William Bullitt, remembered today as the diplomatic prodigy who was President Wilson's emissary to Lenin at age 28; FDR's first ambassador to Moscow at 42; and ambassador to France during the crucial years 19361940. Both intelligent and charming, Bullitt's remarkable ability to ``see into the future'' led to his warnings about the inherent dangers of the Versailles Treaty, problems with the Soviet Union, the world-threatening potential of atomic weaponry and the commitment of U.S. ground forces to Indochina. Billings, coauthor of The Plot to Kill the President, and historian Brownell contend that Bullitt's gratuitous criticism of undersecretary of state Sumner Welles (who allegedly propositioned a railroad porter) ruined Bullitt's career, and that he otherwise might have become ``a superlative secretary of state who could have stopped Stalin in Central Europe and avoided the Cold War.'' Photos. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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