Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: *WITHDRAWN LIBRARY COPY* in exceptional condition; Appears to be unused. It does have customary library collection stamps/stickers. SHIPS IMMEDIATELY WITH TRACKING PROVIDED.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War Hardcover – October 1, 2006

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$19.52 $0.01

Frequently Bought Together

Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War + Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams; Louis D. Brandeis; James M. Landis; Alfred E. Kahn
Buy the selected items together


Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Adventure," an engaging, interactive dive into the versatile actor's life (available in hardcover and Kindle book).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195045785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195045789
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Acheson (1893–1971) was a life-long Democrat who served four presidents, Harry Truman's flamboyant and sharp-tongued secretary of state is admired on the right as an architect of American Cold War foreign policy, most famously for the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan. Historian Beisner's exhaustive treatment of Acheson's long, influential career reveals the tangled roots of contemporary policy and political discourse—especially the purported links between the unilateral projection of American might and our national security—during and after WWII. A crucial and complex figure, Acheson was not the earliest "cold warrior," though later among the staunchest, and not easily reduced to left or right in the conflict's dissonant strategic and moral calculus. A deep wariness with regard to the atomic bomb, for instance, did not necessarily temper his involvement in developing U.S. nuclear arms policy, including deployment of the more powerful H-bomb. His early urging of engagement in Vietnam later gave way to counseling Johnson to end it. Chronicling rather than criticizing the assumptions undergirding the postwar period's rapidly evolving bipolar order, this thorough biography offers insight into perhaps one of the least understood fields of government action at the outset of a momentous era that's still, in many respects, very much underway. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Beisner's diplomatic history of Dean Acheson, President Harry Truman's secretary of state, is comprehensive yet not solely of scholarly interest. It sifts Acheson's record at the State Department and yields a positive assessment with a few caveats. Beisner questions Acheson's decisions during the Korean War, particularly in encouraging Truman to approve the military advance to the China-Korea border that ended in disaster. Explaining that Acheson was an Atlanticist who knew little about Asia, Beisner writes more approvingly about his role in establishing institutions such as NATO. His diplomatic strategies in reviving a prostrate Western Europe against an obstreperous Soviet Union form the bulk of the narrative. Aristocratic in appearance and accent, Acheson did not suffer fools gladly, whether Communists or congressmen. In addition to detailing his pungency, Beisner also discusses Acheson's attitude toward power and his loyalty to Truman. Significant cold-war historiography that merits the consideration of larger libraries. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Robert L. Beisner is a former president of the Society for American Historians and emeritus professor of American history at American University in Washington, DC. A native of Nebraska, he took his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history at the University of Chicago. His dissertation on the American anti-imperialist movement of 1898-1900 won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians. As a book--Twelve Against Empire: The American Anti-Imperialists, 1898-1900--it won the John Dunning Prize from the American Historical Association. His book, From the Old Diplomacy to the New, 1865-1900, has been widely used in undergraduate and graduate courses in American diplomatic history since the first edition was published in 1975. His 2006 biography, Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War, won the Robert H. Ferrell Award from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Douglas Dillon Award from the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the Arthur Ross Silver Medal Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations. It was also the First Runner-Up for the Harry S. Truman Book Award from the Truman Presidential Library.

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very solid and balanced recounting of the career in power of one of the most important diplomatic figures of the past one hundred years. In his book, Professor Beisner wisely concentrates almost entirely on the twelve years Dean Acheson was in power in Washington, D.C.

The great issues grappled with in the immediate years after World War II still live with us today: Russia, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, North Korea, Israel, Iran, France, and China/Taiwan. If you are curious to know why some things are the way they are in today's world, read this book. The number of key foreign policy challenges that flew at this talented Secretary of State is astonishing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Beiser is the author of several books on diplomacy ("American Foreign Relations Since 1600" -- 2003). This definitive and long (800 pages) biography of Dean Acheson, a Democratic player (through the Roosevelt and Truman administrations) and foreign affairs genius. As Truman's Secretary of State, he was present at the start of the post-war era and created the framework for the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, the occupation of the Axis countries and NATO. As a result, Mr. Acheson titled his memoirs, "Present at the Creation." The writing is engaging and interesting as is Mr. Acheson himself (he managed to alienate President Roosevelt). Though this book obviously can not be read at one setting, it is a good history tale.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. R. Nelson on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I bought this book, I wasn't sure I would be able to read through 600+ pages of matters that took place 60+ years ago. To my surprise, this is an exceptionally well written book and offers many lessons to us today in terms of meshing diplomacy with military approaches to international relations. Beisner does a good job noting where Acheson was right, as well as those times when he wasn't. Dean Acheson was one of those "larger than life" personalities who shouldn't be allowed to be forgotten.

Well worth the effort to read (and surprisingly, not that much "effort").
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Louis Politis on January 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It contains lots of history and would recommend to all ages especially the young. The Marshall Plan was the greatest thing that ever happened.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again