on 22 January 2008
This is a very enjoyable history of the origins of the cold war and national security policy making into the 70s. It's much better at covering the period between 1944 to the mid 50s than it is for the later stuff, partly because the protagonists had a more central role earlier and then found themselves on the periphery. Discussing Vietnam policy making through the experiences of the six leaves a lot undiscussed, but it isn't bad.
The early chapters are not particularly interesting, except from the fact that they provide a vivid and surprising insight into the world of the east-coast aristocracy (1st half 20C), which is probably necessary for a full appreciation of what follows.
Apart from the less informative later chapters, the only other grievance that I can cite is the fact one does get the impression that the authors have been a little less critical of their subjects (and JFK) than is reasonable. It is also perhaps too harsh on LBJ.
on 30 July 1999
This book is fantastically interesting. The detail and the descriptions of personalities involved make the subject matter more than palatable, even to the less scholarly among us. The book is, however, very, very long and would have perhaps been better broken up into several volumes. I would characterize it as very well written, exhaustively researched, slightly fawning and uncritical at times, and, in general, well worth lugging around.