Scientists At War

THE BIRTH OF THE RAND CORPORATION During World War II, America discovered that scientists were needed to win it—and to win any future war. That’s why RAND came into being, the first think tank and the model for all the rest.

ALONG THE jagged coastline of Southern California, past the hills and forests of Malibu, five miles down from the Santa Monica Mountains, just short of Muscle Beach and the town of Venice, there sits some of the most quaintly decrepit oceanside property in America. The Santa Monica beach hardly looks different from the way it did a few years after World War II: the same huge arch along the entryway, the same calliope with the lighthouse-shaped apartment on top, the same small seafood diner. Read more »

John F. Kennedy, Twenty Years Later

Was the murdered President one of our best, a man of “vigor, rationality, and noble vision” or was he “an optical illusion,” “an expensively programmed waxwork”? A noted historian examines the mottled evolution of his reputation.

The murder of John F. Kennedy twenty years ago last month occasioned an overwhelming sense of grief that may be without parallel in our history. When the news first was announced, people wept openly in the streets, and during the painful weekend that followed, as the mesmerizing images of the youthful President and his family were flashed again and again on the television screens, the feeling of deprivation deepened.Read more »

Truman At Potsdam

His newly discovered diary reveals how the President saw the conference that ushered in the Cold War

For the past year and a half, Robert H. Ferrell, a diplomatic historian at Indiana University, has been at work among President Harry S. Truman’s newly opened private papers at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Early last year, working with Erwin J. Mueller, an extraordinarily able library archivist, he uncovered a hitherto unknown personal journal kept sporadically by the President during the 1945 Big Three Conference at Potsdam, Germany. Scribbled on miscellaneous scraps of paper—White House stationery, lined sheets from a tablet, note paper picked up aboard the U.S.S.Read more »

When Bunkers Last In The Backyard Bloom—d

The fallout-shelter craze of 1961

It all began on the evening of July 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy went before television cameras to explain to his countrymen the grave meaning and still graver consequences of the deepening crisis over Berlin. The Russians were threatening American access rights to that isolated city, the President told an audience of 50,000,000 tense and expectant Americans. Those rights might be terminated on December 31 when Premier Khrushchev signed, as he threatened to do, a separate peace treaty with East Germany.Read more »

The Time Of The Angel

The U-2, Cuba, and the CIA

In the still of the October night, the slender, birdlike plane lifted into the sky from its base in California, climbed sharply on a column of flame, and headed east through the darkness. Pilot Richard Heyser, in the cramped, tiny cockpit, had good reason to be apprehensive, but he had little time to worry.Read more »

Who Started The Cold War?

The Cold War—we have spent a generation hearing about it, thinking about it, worrying about it. We all know it somehow grew out of World War II, that it involved conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, and that it led to a series of frightening confrontations: the Berlin airlift; the escalating stages of the nuclear arms race; the Cuban missile crisis; the wars in Korea and Vietnam. But what really caused the Cold War?Read more »

The Birth Of The CIA

When and how it got the green light to conduct “subversive operations abroad”

The history of successful ideas is sometimes marked by a trade-off. In his old age General William J. Donovan, founder of the United States intelligence service, may have reflected on the phenomenon. The trade-off goes something like this:

 
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A Cycle Of Cathay

President Nixon’s visit to Peking starts one more surprising turn in an American-Chinese “affair” nearly two centuries old

Richard Nixon’s twenty-thousand-mile pilgrimage to the center of Chinese civilization—“the week that changed the world,” as he put it—may not actually have changed the world, though it quite probably did turn a new page in world history by making it unlikely that the international politics of East Asia, at least, will ever be the same again. Read more »

Which Way America? Dulles Always Knew

The job ran in the family; both his uncle and grandfather were Secretaries of State. Home life in a parsonage taught him piety, and the law precision. The rigid views of a world divided between good and evil he worked out, apparently, himself. Private letters and new taped recollections help explain the shaping of the man who set our Cold War foreign policy

About a dozen years ago Carol Burnett’s nightclub repertoire included a number, “I Made a Fool of Myself over John Foster Dulles.” In 1971, in an era of massive discontent with American foreign policy, Miss Burnett would be unwise to restore it to her program. For even though the song is pure camp, some youthful member of her audience would certainly jump to his feet with a denunciation of Dulles as the archetypal villain of the foreign-policy establishment he repudiates.Read more »

Disarmament Conferences: Ballets At The Brink

“Almost every time a serious disarmament effort got under way, it barely managed to move forward an inch or two before a great world cataclysm intervened”

As spring moved northward over Europe in 1970, a familiar scene was enacted in Vienna, a city where diplomacy is as much a part of the civic tradition as steelmaking in Pittsburgh. In April, Soviet and American officials exchanged greetings, drank champagne, smiled at news cameras, and then settled down to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, known to headline writers as SALT . So, with the opening of the 1970’s mankind’s long dream of disarmament once more cast its spell. It is a compelling vision.Read more »