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Keepers of the Keys: A History of the National Security Council from Truman to Bush

Prados, John

6 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0688073972 / ISBN 13: 9780688073978
Published by Morrow, New York, 1991
Condition: very good, very good
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25 cm, 632, acid-free paper, illus., ink notation on front endpaper. Bookseller Inventory # 23935

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Keepers of the Keys: A History of the ...

Publisher: Morrow, New York

Publication Date: 1991

Book Condition: very good, very good

Edition: First Edition. First Printing.

About this title


Discusses Eisenhower's Gordon Gray and Robert Cutler, Kennedy's crisis managers, Johnson's management of Vietnam, and Henry Kissinger's role in the Nixon administration

From Kirkus Reviews:

A weighty and absorbing history of the metastatic growth of the National Security Council from a small advisory board into a vastly powerful bureaucratic colossus. Prados (Presidents' Secret Wars, 1986, etc.) chronicles persuasively how the Council, originally conceived by Truman as a ``channel for collective advice and information'' for the Executive Branch, and for coordination of intelligence activities, rapidly became the prime mover of American foreign, intelligence, and military policy, and ultimately ``acquired an institutional existence and importance few observers have yet accorded it.'' He contends that the Council, and the position of national security advisor, peaked in influence and effectiveness during the Eisenhower years, effectively coordinating policy among competing bureaucratic forces within the Executive Branch. Under Kennedy and his successors, however, the Council shifted subtly from a purely advisory role to a largely operational one. Reviewing the achievements of each of the 20 national security advisors, Prados shows that, especially in the Johnson and Nixon years, the national security advisor assisted in implementing rather than reviewing policy, ultimately resulting in the extralegal excesses of John Poindexter, Robert McFarlane, and Oliver North. The irony is that the position of national security advisor has no official existence (the Council was created by the National Security Act of 1947, and was supposed to be headed by an executive secretary), and that the Council's mission remains as nebulous in law as it is unclear in practice. Prados raises a number of interesting questions about the continued relevance and viability of the Council, and recommends reforming it by legislatively clarifying its role. A reflective, well-written, and much-needed history of a powerful and obscure institution, and a lesson on the self- perpetuating nature of bureaucracies. (Thirty-nine b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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