From Library Journal
Most of us first became aware of George Ball in David Halberstam's The Best and Brightest (LJ 11/1/72) as the lone adviser who early and often strongly opposed U.S. escalation of the Vietnam War. Ball served in a variety of capacities over his 40-year career but most importantly as devil's advocate in Kennedy's and Johnson's State Department. Bill (Politics in the Middle East, Addison-Wesley, 1993) presents an admirable life of Ball using extensive primary and secondary sources (including interviews with Ball, his wife, and others who knew him well) to reconstruct Ball's life. Ball operated within a system that Bill classifies as phronesis?policy guided by moral principles. For Ball the means were as important as the ends. This is a significant book on the life of a man who quietly shaped American foreign policy during the coldest years of the Cold War. Recommended for all collections.?Edward Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"For sixty years," Bill declares in his introduction, "Ball exerted influence in national and international affairs." Bill, director of the Reves Center of International Studies of the College of William and Mary, based this study of the man and his approach to international affairs on thorough archival research and hours of interviews with Ball (who died in 1994) and his friends and associates. Finally, Bill has examined one diplomat's career in order "to uncover the essence of the American foreign policymaking system and to develop a model of statecraft for the twenty-first century." A string of challenges drew Ball's attention, from his work on European unity with French economist Jean Monnet, to the Congo and Vietnam, to the Cuban missile crisis, civil war in Cyprus, and unending tension and bloodshed in the Middle East. Ball's career stands as an exemplar of what Bill labels phronesis
(a form of prudence that balances "passion, proportion, and responsibility") and as an essential alternative to the realpolitik
of which Henry Kissinger is perhaps the most obvious proponent. Mary Carroll