Foreword Magazines's 2006 Book of the Year Award,
2006 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection
“Without question this is an important new addition to World War II and Cold War historiography. . . . Highly recommended.” —Douglas Brinkley, author of Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years and The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey beyond the White House
“A remarkably objective, yet sympathetic, study of Louis Johnson’s life and career. Now only half-remembered, . . . Johnson was a major national figure. Colorful, aggressive, independent-minded, egotistical, his strong views and conflicts with Dean Acheson proved to be his undoing. All in all, a fascinating tale.” —James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense
“McFarland and Roll have performed a real service in rescuing from obscurity this Democratic mover and shaker. Their account of the rise and fall of Louis Johnson provides us with the fullest depiction yet of an important Washington figure employed for better or worse as a blunt instrument of policy change by both Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.” —Alonzo L. Hamby, author of Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman and For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s
“[Johnson’s] career is a cautionary tale of how even the most ruthlessly effective men can become pawns in the Washington power game. McFarland and Roll bring Johnson to life in this thorough and well-told history.” —Evan Thomas, Newsweek, author of Robert Kennedy: His Life and The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA
Louis Johnson was FDR’s Assistant Secretary of War and the architect of the industrial mobilization plans that put the nation on a war footing prior to its entry into World War II. Later, as Truman’s Secretary of Defense, Johnson was given the difficult job of unifying the armed forces and carrying out Truman’s orders to dramatically reduce defense expenditures. In both administrations, he was asked to confront and carry out extremely unpopular initiatives—massive undertakings that each president believed were vital to the nation’s security and economic welfare. Johnson’s conflicts with Henry Morganthau, Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring, Winston Churchill, Harry Hopkins, Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, and Paul Nitze find contemporary parallels in the recent disagreements between the national defense establishment and the State Department.