A haunting portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the mid-twentieth century, this biography takes a penetrating look at James Forrestal's life and work. Brilliant, ambitious, glamorous, yet a perpetual outsider, Forrestal forged a career that took him from his working-class origins to the social and financial stratosphere of Wall Street, and from there to policy making in Washington. As secretary of the navy during World War II, he was the principal architect in transforming an obsolescent navy into the largest, most formidable naval force in history. After the war, as the nation's first secretary of defense, he played a major role in shaping the anti-Communist consensus that sustained the U.S. policy of containment during the Cold War. Despite his many achievements, Forrestal's life ended in tragedy with his suicide in 1949.
This absorbing study not only takes an understanding look at the many-sided man but presents an authoritative history of the great but troubled years of America's rise to world primacy. Winner of the 1992 Roosevelt Naval History Prize, the book enjoyed wide acclaim when first published and is now considered a definitive work.