The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War

Yale Univ. Sept. 2020. 544p. ISBN 9780300217803. $37.50. BIOG
Nichter (hstory, Texas A&M Univ.-Central Texas) is a distinguished scholar specializing in the Nixon Presidency. His biography of Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. (1902-85) is an essential work when the current Republican Party scarcely resembles Lodge’s party of the 1950s. As a moderate Massachusetts Republican, Lodge stood for calibrated governance, bipartisanship, and public service. Those values did not make him saintly, but it did insure a long career without major scandal. Lodge resigned from Senate to enlist in World War II; he became President Eisenhower’s campaign manager, and served as Ambassador to Vietnam, Ambassador to Germany, and Envoy to the Vatican. In Nichter’s telling, the Vietnam experience hobbled Lodge’s 1964 Presidential campaign; the author explains the personalities shaping America’s Vietnam policy through early 1967 and concludes that Lodge was not directly involved in the 1963 South Vietnamese coup. However, as Nichter notes, the event marked a “failure” for Lodge; later, he opposed advisors such as George Ball who advocated Washington “cut its losses” and withdraw. Included are other significant details, such as Lodge’s role in bringing together Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger together.
VERDICT This first dedicated biography of an understudied politician sheds insight into the evolving politics of the 20th century.
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