Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Chairman

Bird, Kai. The Chairman: John J. McCloy, The Making of the American Establishment. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. 800 pages.

John McCloy (1895-1989) is the archetype of twentieth-century power and influence; his wide-ranging activities offer ample evidence for anyone who has ever felt that U.S. policies are designed by and for a tiny Yankee aristocracy. A sampling of his career: assistant secretary of war (1941- 1945), high commissioner of Germany (1949-1952), president of the World Bank (1947-1949), chairman of Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank (1953- 1960), chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (1953-1970), chairman of the Ford Foundation (1953-1965), disarmament advisor (1961-1974), Warren Commission appointee, Wall Street attorney for the seven sister big oil companies, and director of numerous corporations. It's almost redundant to add that McCloy was also well-connected to U.S. intelligence agencies.
This first major biography of McCloy was written over a ten-year period. Special emphasis is given to several controversies in his career: the internment of the Japanese in WW2, the decision not to bomb Auschwitz, his clemency for Nazi war criminals, the use of Nazis by U.S. intelligence, and the Warren Commission (nothing new on the WC). The book is based on over a hundred interviews (including nine with McCloy), several hundred Freedom of Information Act requests, McCloy's private papers, and material in numerous archives and libraries.

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