Where Have All The Great Men Gone?

The early years of our republic produced dozens of great leaders. A historian explains how men like Adams and Jefferson were selected for public office, and tells why the machinery that raised them became obsolete.

THERE IS NO clear consensus on what constitutes greatness, nor are there any objective criteria for measuring it—but when we look at holders of high public offices and at the current field of candidates, we know it is missing. Some of our leaders are competent, articulate, engaging, and some are honest and honorable. But greatness is missing. Read more »

Radio Grows Up

How the novelty item of 1920 became the world-straddling colossus of 1940

IN 1921 Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who was charged with what meager regulation of the airwaves there was, called radio “an instrument of beauty and learning.” Waldemar Kaempffert, who, as editor of Scientific American , had followed the beginnings of the technology, in 1922 imagined “a radio mother … crooning songs and telling bedtime stories” while “some future Einstein” could elaborate his theories “to a whole world with an ear cocked to catch … his voice as it wells out of the Read more »

“Explaining What You Are After Is The Secret Of Diplomacy”

This century’s most powerful Secretary of State talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the Foreign Service, the role of the CIA, the rights of journalists, the contrast between meddlers and statesmen—and about the continuing struggle for a coherent foreign policy

THE CONDUCT of American foreign policy has changed radically since the days when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was essentially his own Secretary of State. AMERICAN HERITAGE believes it is a matter of importance to examine those changes through the eyes of an expert. Few people, we think, better qualify as such than Henry A. Kissinger, who not only had a hand in those changes but who probably exercised greater power than any Secretary of State in this century. Dr.Read more »

Henry Francis Du Pont And The Invention Of Winterthur

How a shy millionaire’s peculiar genius transformed his “country place” into an unparalleled showcase of American furnishings
A HERITAGE PRESERVED

SOME SIX MILES north of Wilmington lies a stretch of countryside chiefly inhabited by du Ponts, du Pont servants, and some two dozen major du Pont estates. Of these the largest, the loveliest, and by far the most eccentric is Winterthur, for seventy years the home of a shy, fidgety collector of antiques named Henry Francis du Pont. In Winterthur’s heyday as a private residence, between 1930 and 1950, it was far more than a rich man’s estate.Read more »

The Great North Sea Mine Barrage

An extraordinary World War I naval operation is recounted by the commander of a decaying coastal steamer crammed with a terrifying new explosive

When my father, Rear Adm. D. Pratt Mannix 3rd, died in 1957, he had served as a midshipman on a square-rigger and lived to see the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. Born in 1878, he had fought in eight wars, been awarded six medals, and had seen action against Moro pirates and the Imperial German Navy. He had watched the United States grow to be the most powerful country in the world. As the U.S. Navy was responsible for much of this growth, he had had an opportunity to see, firsthand, history being made.Read more »

FDR A Practical Magician

Fifty years ago this March, Roosevelt took the oath of office and inaugurated this century’s most profound national changes. One who was there recalls the President’s unique blend of ebullience and toughness.

THAT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT was, and preeminently so, the dominant political figure of this century—that he stood astride its first half like the Colossus itself—will not be in doubt. Nor are the reasons subject to serious dispute. It was his fate and fortune to face the two great tragedies of the time and to guide its greatest social achievement. The tragedies were, of course, the Second World War and the Great Depression, and few will quarrel as to the bearing of these two events on the Roosevelt transcendence.Read more »

Winston Churchill And “the Natural Captain Of The West”

Fifty years after FDR first took office, a British statesman and historian evaluates the President’s role in the twentieth century’s most important partnership

Franklin Roosevelt was, and remains, a hero to the British. During his rise to power we were detached from and ignorant of American internal politics to an extent that is not easily imaginable today. The Atlantic in the twenties and thirties was still very wide. The majority, including those politically involved and informed, never crossed it. Very few did so frequently.Read more »

America Was Promises

An Interview With Archibald MacLeish

Librarian of Congress, presidential confidant, Assistant Secretary of State, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes and the Medal of Freedom, distinguished Harvard professor—and incidentally, lawyer and football player—MacLeish was a twentieth-century Renaissance Man, as revealed in this last interview with him Read more »

II. Bats Away!

It is early 1945. An American bomber crew is anxiously nearing the now familiar islands of the Japanese Empire. Flak begins to burst around the plane as the target comes into view. The bombardier releases the payload, and the crew watches as thousands of incendiary bats plummet toward the paper cities of Japan. Read more »

The FDR Tapes

Secret recordings made in the Oval Office of the President in the autumn of 1940

INTRODUCTION BY ARTHUR SCHLESINGER, JR. Read more »