Potomac Fever

A Memoir of Politics and Public Service

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A dozen years out of Harvard, investment banker Bill Middendorf’s salary hit $250,000 a year; another dozen years, with his own firm and a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, his income was well into seven figures. But he was restive. “I had learned how to make money,” he writes. “I wanted to learn how to make a difference.” Thus, he became actively involved in politics, first at the local level and then with the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater (1964) and as treasurer of the Republican National Committee (1964-1968). There followed a series of challenging public service appointments: ambassador to The Netherlands, under secretary and secretary of the Navy, ambassador to the Organization of American States and ambassador to the European Community.

Middendorf is a story-teller, and has many tales to share --- from his World War II Navy service, to his first job wearing a string of pearls in a bank vault, on to a failed effort to bring a U.S.-style constitution to post-Soviet Russia. Tales of villains and heroes, tales of narrow legislative victories on vital programs, tales of behind-the-scenes efforts to forestall war in the Falklands and to counter growing Communist control of the island of Grenada.

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