cover image The Colonel: The Life and Wars of Henry Stimson, L867-L950

The Colonel: The Life and Wars of Henry Stimson, L867-L950

Godfrey Hodgson. Knopf Publishing Group, $24.95 (402pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57441-7

Henry L. Stimson was secretary of war under Taft, governor-general of the Philippines under Coolidge, secretary of state under Hoover and secretary of war again under FDR. The atom bombs were built and dropped under Stimson's supervision and authority. Born two years after Lincoln's assassination, he was brought up in the code of the Victorian gentleman, unashamedly elitist and dead certain that American world leadership was essential. He was also the living link between the foreign policies of 19th-century U.S. imperialism and the Cold War era. In his last act in public life, in 1947, he proposed the internationalization of nuclear technology in the hope that the Soviet Union could be persuaded not to start an arms race. The public figure as well as the private man are richly delineated in this elegant, learned biography, which offers deep insight into the process by which the U.S. emerged from the periphery of world events to the center of global power. Hodgson is the author of All Things to All Men. Photos . (Oct.)