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April 17 , 2010

Henry L. Stimson

The First Wise Man


The twentieth century witnessed the rise of the United States as the preeminent player on the world stage. While many individuals were responsible for the American ascension, few have left a larger legacy in the arena of foreign policy than Henry L. Stimson. Serving nearly every American president from Theodore Roosevelt to Harry S. Truman, Stimson shaped America's worldview and influenced America's foreign affairs decisions for over 40 years.

A Republican, Stimson served as Secretary of War under William H. Taft (1911-13), Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover (1929-33), and Secretary of War for Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (1940-45); in addition, he fought in World War I, initiated the Good Neighbor Policy in Central America, and served as Governor General of the Philippines (1927-29).

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In this new book, David Schmitz reveals how the life of Stimson provides a unique framework for analyzing America's foreign policy development from the imperialism of the 1890s to the origins of the Cold War and the emergence of the United States as the world's leading power after World War II. The author also explains the continuities in foreign policy over this period and the emergence of the internationalist perspective over isolation-ism, showing how Stimson was able to pass along his perspec-tives to the next generation of American policymakers who after World War II established the internationalist mindset of the Cold War years. Stimson's crucial role in the development and use of the atomic bomb is also examined.

Henry L. Stimson: The First Wise Man is useful for courses in United States foreign policy, World War II, American history from 1900-1945, and survey courses in U.S. history.

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