From Publishers Weekly
As president of Yale in the 1960s, Kingman Brewster was able to avoid much of the violence that afflicted other campuses rocked by student protests. It was probably no coincidence that, three decades earlier, he was a prominent student protestor against the U.S. entering WWII. By the '60s, he was part of a loose-knit group of liberal patricians that included presidential advisers McGeorge Bundy and Cyrus Vance, New York City mayor John Lindsay and Episcopalian bishop Paul Moore. In his first book, Kabaservice (who has a B.A. and a Ph.D. from Yale) deftly traces the professional and personal connections linking these men who were born to privilege but had a "genuine wish to be of service to the nation," and reveals how they tried to invest government and academic power structures with the flexibility needed to cope with the social upheavals of Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement. Not only President Bush but John Kerry and Howard Dean attended Brewster's Yale, and Kabaservice's history offers valuable insights into a crucible that help shape their political characternot just through Brewster's actions, but through the powerful backlash from conservative alumni. The presentation is meticulous, and the considerable detail about the overhaul of Yale's undergraduate admissions process is crucial to understanding just how completely those changes reshaped the school's student bodyby admitting not only more diverse but also smarter students. The story is further enlivened by frequent off-campus forays that reveal not only how the '60s affected Yale but how Yale affected the '60s.
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Kingman Brewster, president of Yale University, is the centerpiece of this absorbing look at the liberal establishment, men of privilege who nonetheless espoused principles of equality. Kabaservice chronicles the lives of a core of powerful men from their youth at Yale University, at a time when Yale was the preserve of the children of privilege. Among the circle of friends were ambitious young men driven to reset the nation's social agenda: McGeorge Bundy, advisor to Kennedy and Nixon, forever dogged by his involvement in the Vietnam War; Cyrus Vance, advisor to Nixon and Carter; John Lindsay, mayor of New York; Paul Moore, the archbishop of New York; and Elliot Richardson, Nixon's attorney general. Brewster himself oversaw the conversion of Yale from a bastion of the children of the wealthy to a more open institution valuing merit more than money, and balancing conflicting social forces when the campus erupted during the tumultuous 1960s and '70s. Kabaservice explores the ambitions, ideals, and tragic missteps of these high-born, influential men and their efforts to reshape America. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved