America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Mar 4, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
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Walt Rostow's meteoric rise to power—from Flatbush, Brooklyn, to the West Wing of the White House—seemed to capture the promise of the American dream. Hailing from humble origins, Rostow became an intellectual powerhouse: a professor of economic history at MIT and an influential foreign policy adviser to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Too influential, according to some. While Rostow inspired respect and affection, he also made some powerful enemies. Averell Harriman, one of America's most celebrated diplomats, described Rostow as "America's Rasputin" for the unsavory influence he exerted on presidential decision-making. Rostow was the first to advise Kennedy to send U.S. combat troops to South Vietnam and the first to recommend the bombing of North Vietnam. He framed a policy of military escalation, championed recklessly optimistic reporting, and then advised LBJ against pursuing a compromise peace with North Vietnam.

David Milne examines one man's impact on the United States' worst-ever military defeat. It is a portrait of good intentions and fatal misjudgments. A true ideologue, Rostow believed that it is beholden upon the United States to democratize other nations and do "good," no matter what the cost. America's Rasputin explores the consequences of this idealistic but unyielding dogma.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
The EDUCATION of WALT WHITMAN ROSTOW 19161949
15
The MAHING of an ANTICOMMUNIST ZEALOT 19501960
41
RATTLING SABERS 1961
73
A DISTANT VOICE 19621963
103
The ROSTOW THESIS 19641965
131
The PROPHET RETURNS 1966
158
POSTPONING the INEVITABLE 1967
181
A WORLD CRASHES DOWN 1968
206
EPILOGUE 19692003
241
Notes
259
Bibliography
293
Index
307
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

David Milne is a lecturer in American politics at the University of East Anglia. America's Rasputin is his first book.

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