Six close friends shaped the role their country would play in the dangerous years following World War II. They were the original best and brightest, whose towering intellects, outsize personalities, and dramatic actions would bring order to the postwar chaos, and whose strong response to Soviet expansionism would leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day.
In April 1945, they converged to advise an untutored new president, Harry Truman. They were Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt’s special envoy to Churchill and Stalin; Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was more responsible for the Truman Doctrine than Truman and for the Marshall Plan than General Marshall; George Kennan, selfcast outsider and intellectual darling of the Washington elite; Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war, undersecretary of state, and secretary of defense throughout the formative years of the Cold War; John McCloy, one of the nation’s most influential private citizens; and Charles Bohlen, adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union.
Together they formulated a doctrine of Communist containment that was to be the foundation of American policy, and years later, when much of what they stood for appeared to be sinking in the mire of Vietnam, they were summoned for their steady counsel. It was then that they were dubbed “the Wise Men.” Working in an atmosphere of trust that in today’s Washington would seem quaint, they shaped a new world order that committed a once-reticent nation to defending freedom wherever it sought to flourish.
Walter Isaacson is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of Time Magazine. In 2011 he wrote a biography titled “Steve Jobs”, which was based off on over forty interviews with Jobs over a two-year period up until shortly before his death. It became an international best-seller, breaking all records for sales of a biography.
Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at “The Sunday Times” of London and then the New Orleans “Times-Picayune”. He joined “Times” in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of digital media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003.
Along with “Steve Jobs”, Isaacson has published several other books, including: “Einstein: His Life and Universe” (2007), “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” (2003) and Kissinger: A Biography” (1992), as well as coauthor of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made” (1986). His most recent book, “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” (2014) is a biographical tale of the people who invented the computer, Internet and the other great innovations of the digital age. It became a New York Times bestseller.
Isaacson has been awarded many accolades of the years, including in 2012, when he was selected as one of the Time 100, the magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world.