Elites / Personalities

Bellett, Gerald. Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes. Ogdensburg NY: Voyageur North America, 1995. 320 pages.

Gerald Bellett is a reporter for the Vancouver Sun in British Columbia. When John Meier, a former aide to Howard Hughes, moved there from the U.S. in the early 1970s, Bellett began writing about Meier's struggle with the White House, the CIA, and the Howard Hughes organization. This is an authorized biography, and while it helps fill in some historical gaps about Watergate and the Hughes-CIA connection, it is still history as told by yet another insider-victim, with possible axes to grind. It's a bit suspicious. Even though he was wheeling and dealing with the spookiest and most duplicitous people on the planet, it seems that for Meier, these were the good old days. There is not a single mea culpa in this entire book.

But another grinding fact is that Meier was a victim of CIA and Canadian collusion to put him behind bars. This included charges of tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and ultimately a charge of murder. He spent five years in prison before prosecutors emptied out their bag of tricks. Meier argues that Watergate was a classic set-up, and it appears that the CIA thought he had a stash of Hughes documents that might prove his point. According to Meier, when he refused to cut a deal with the CIA to produce the documents and keep his mouth shut, his legal problems began.


Burleigh, Nina. A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer. New York: Bantam Books, 1999. 356 pages.

Mary Pinchot Meyer (1920-1964) was from a well-connected family. After Vassar she married Cord Meyer, Jr., who became a top CIA official. Mary's sister married Ben Bradlee in 1955; another classmate from Vassar was Cicely d'Autremont, who married James Angleton. An attractive, free-spirited artist, Mary Meyer was sampling mushrooms with Timothy Leary at Harvard by 1962, and told him that the CIA was interested the potential of LSD for mind control. That year Mary smoked pot with JFK. Then in 1964, she was murdered while walking along the Georgetown towpath. The evidence against the accused was strong but circumstantial, and attorney Dovey Roundtree managed to get Ray Crump acquitted. After the murder Bradlee and Angleton found Mary's diary in her house, whereupon Angleton slithered off into the night with it.

The White House mind-control connection, the unsolved murder, and the diary caper have earned Mary Meyer a solid place in conspiracy folklore. Some aspects of the murder suggest that Crump may have been a fall guy, although this in turn suggests a plot that would have been both elaborate and risky. Crump was involved in a few violent incidents in the years after his acquittal, but knowing this isn't particularly helpful either. In 1997 he wrote the author that he remembered nothing of that day on the towpath, and didn't want to talk about it.


Bird, Kai. The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. 496 pages.

The Bundy brothers were born to rule, and they knew it. From the Boston elite, through Groton, Yale's Skull and Bones, and Harvard, their superiority was widely acknowledged. William Bundy joined the CIA in 1951, worked in senior positions in the Pentagon and State Department during the Vietnam War, and was editor of "Foreign Affairs" at the Council on Foreign Relations from 1972-1984. McGeorge Bundy was a Harvard dean from 1953-1961, a national security advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961-1966, and head of the Ford Foundation from 1966-1979. He died in 1996.

Both brothers were cold war liberals, which meant that their foreign policy tended toward imperialism. They knew that it was never a question of dominoes falling, yet the lure of hegemony led them to share much of the responsibility for the Vietnam War. McGeorge also shares responsibility for nearly starting World War III during the Cuban missile crisis. Later, at the Ford Foundation, a limo would pick McGeorge up in the morning, and he'd spend his days giving millions to minority activism centers, women's studies programs, and writing essays in defense of affirmative action, presumably to balkanize and destroy the New Left. When Henry Ford II naively objected and left the board in 1976, Mac Bundy defended himself by telling reporters that the Foundation was "making the world safe for capitalism." He wasn't kidding.


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.


Cooney, John. The American Pope: The Life and Times of Francis Cardinal Spellman. New York: Times Books, 1984. 364 pages.

Author John Cooney interviewed dozens of priests who worked with Cardinal Spellman, many of whom would only speak on background. He also filed the usual FOIA requests with the FBI and State Department. The records of the Archdiocese of New York, where Spellman reigned for 28 years, are closed to researchers, but one priest slipped Cooney a copy of Spellman's diary. This is the first major biography of Spellman (1889-1967), who was a major figure in American politics during the first half of the Cold War.

A consummate politician, Spellman laid low at first and cultivated key people in Rome. After his friend Cardinal Pacelli became Pope Pius XII in 1939, Spellman was appointed an archbishop. During the war, he travelled to war zones and acted as FDR's secret agent. After the war he allied himself with Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn, and became a kingmaker in New York City politics. He continued to support U.S. military adventures by visiting the troops, attending Pentagon briefings, discussing strategy with generals, and gathering intelligence for the CIA and State Department. Were it not for Spellman's early (beginning in 1950) efforts to support Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam's puppet government might not have emerged. Ultimately the Vatican became wary of Spellman's power. So did antiwar activists, who demonstrated against "Spellman's War" outside his residence and cathedral.


Cummings, Richard. The Pied Piper: Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream. New York: Grove Press, 1985. 569 pages.

Until his tragic death in 1980, Allard Lowenstein was an ex-congressman from New York who was best known as a pro-civil rights and anti-war "dump Johnson" activist. He gave charismatic speeches to legions of well-scrubbed idealistic white students during the mid-1960s; his basic message was to work within the system rather than subscribe to the politics of alienation and confrontation. This was fine as far as it went. But the evidence shows that until the 1967 National Student Association scandal, which revealed a long history of CIA funding and put Lowenstein on the defensive, he was working for what he might have called the "good-wing" of the CIA. This "good-wing" funded culturally-diverse (and divisive) democratic left movements in the Third World in order to present an alternative to Communist organizing and a politics based on class analysis. Lowenstein spent time in Africa, Spain, and Portugal meeting with various left-wing reformers. Ironically, by 1974 he had become interested in the RFK assassination.

Cummings' biography will be regarded as the seminal work on Lowenstein for years to come. He had access to Lowenstein's papers, spent hundreds of hours in interviews, and demonstrates a broad familiarity with the literature on the CIA. Further revelations that might outdate this monumental effort could come from the CIA's files, but that isn't likely anytime soon.


Drosnin, Michael. Citizen Hughes. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985. 532 pages.

On June 5, 1974, Howard Hughes' Hollywood headquarters was burglarized. Over $60,000 and some souvenirs were missing, but the press didn't mention that boxes of secret papers were also taken. It looked like an inside job. A large team of FBI men, CIA agents, and LAPD detectives made no headway in solving the case, and soon it began to look like they preferred to leave it unsolved. Two years later Michael Drosnin, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter, found the person who stole the papers and gained his confidence. Drosnin was given access to 10,000 documents, including more than 3,000 in Hughes' own handwriting. Then he spent seven years authenticating these documents and interviewing hundreds of people.

The result is this highly-credible description of the Hughes empire and its role in American politics. With Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey both accepting money from Hughes, and DNC chairman Larry O'Brien on the Hughes payroll at the time of the Watergate break-in, and the CIA using Hughes for top-secret projects such as the Glomar Explorer, this role was significant. But if it was decisive, it was probably due to serendipity. Hughes was a manipulative megalomaniac, and also a drug addict with a phobia of germs and radiation. It appears, however, that his goals were modest: Howard Hughes desperately wanted the AEC to stop underground nuclear testing in Nevada.


Epstein, Edward Jay. Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer. New York: Random House, 1996. 418 pages.

The dust cover shows Edward Jay Epstein sitting at a table with reels of tape in front of him. Like Nixon, Armand Hammer felt the need to secretly chronicle his wheeling and dealing, much of it illegal. But he was rich, and and spent plenty on public relations and self-aggrandizing philanthropy. The obituaries in 1990 spoke of him as a crusader for peace and someone who financed cancer research, even though enough information about Hammer's thuggery was already on the record by then. No question about it, Hammer was ruthless and deceptive. Those who knew lacked the guts to say so until after Hammer's death (except for biographer Steve Weinberg).

Epstein's access to Hammer's tapes, some Soviet intelligence files, and interviews with family and friends, make this biography fairly impressive. The only criticism is that Epstein is still fighting the Cold War, and concentrates too much on Hammer's role as an agent of influence for the Soviets. There were other capitalists, such as Ford and the Rockefellers, who were just as willing to cut deals with bad guys. Rather than concluding that Hammer hoodwinked the West by helping the East, it makes more sense to conclude that the stinking rich are always able transcend international conflicts when it suits their interests. This ought to put a whole new slant on Epstein's politics, but it doesn't.


Finder, Joseph. Red Carpet. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston (A New Republic Book), 1983. 372 pages.

This book began in 1981, when author Joseph Finder, a graduate student at Harvard's Russian Research Center, interviewed Armand Hammer, who was then 83 years old. After failing to bribe Finder's faculty advisor at Harvard to stop the project, Hammer tried to buy up as many copies as he could find. After this book was published, two biographies appeared on Hammer that are even more devastating (by Steve Weinberg and Edward Jay Epstein). Since both of these were already indexed in NameBase, this book was mainly of interest for the other aristocrats profiled by the author: W. Averell Harriman, Cyrus Eaton, Donald Kendall, and David Rockefeller.

Finder's point is that when big money was involved, both the U.S. and Russia overlooked their ideological differences, even at the height of the Cold War, and cooperated in the interests of higher profits. The Kremlin has always given distinguished U.S. millionaires access to the inner sanctum. From the other end, no one in Washington tells a Rockefeller or a Harriman what they can and cannot do. (Apparently the Cold War wasn't really a war at all. Sure, the little guy was expected to kill and be killed in Vietnam, and World War III nearly started more than once. And yes, the taxes we paid for all this excitement made the folks behind the U.S. defense industry richer, as the middle class went into decline. But it kept us busy and distracted.)


Harris, David. Dreams Die Hard. New York: St.Martin's/Marek, 1982. 341 pages.

David Harris's affecting memoir of the 60s and their aftermath tracks the lives of three men: Allard Lowenstein, promo man for inside-the-system social change; his protege Dennis Sweeney, who became a civil rights hero, a draft resister, and finally a casualty of the times; and Harris himself, another Lowenstein protege turned charismatic, high-profile resister, jail- bird, and finally disabused mainstream journalist. The human drama centers on Sweeney, who got "freedom burned" in Mississippi, declined from isolation into paranoid schizophrenia -- and in 1980 assassinated his former mentor Lowenstein. By that date, Harris was divorced from Joan Baez ("the first family of the Resistance," they had once styled themselves) and writing for the New York Times Magazine.

Harris's political revelations concern Lowenstein, remembered today (if at all) for starting 1968's "Dump Johnson" movement. But before that, Lowenstein channeled innumerable young men into the civil rights movement and into the liberal National Student Association -- later revealed to be CIA-funded. Harris makes a persuasive case that the complex, brilliant Lowenstein, despite his repeated denials, knew the score. A later book on Lowenstein (The Pied Piper by Richard Cummings) confirms the Harris thesis with solid research. -- Steve Badrich


Hatfield, J.H. Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. New York: Soft Skull Press, 2000. 375 pages.

When this book was published by St.Martin's Press in October 1999, mistakes were made by both St.Martin's and the author. The afterword of this book includes circumstantial evidence, confirmed to the author by three unnamed sources, about Bush's arrest for cocaine possession in 1972, and how daddy got the record expunged after Junior performed community service. St.Martin's chose to sensationalize this tiny portion of an otherwise solid book, and found itself under tremendous pressure as one interview after another was cancelled. Then the author falsely denied to a Dallas reporter that he was the same as one James H. Hatfield, a convicted felon. With Hatfield's continued refusal to name his sources for the Bush cocaine story, this false denial was just the excuse that St.Martin's needed. They promptly took their cue from the other rats in our major media, and abandoned ship. All copies were recalled and burned.

The book itself, however, is responsible, thoroughly-researched, and well-documented, and nothing about the author can change this simple fact. The pressure that St.Martin's felt was entirely political, not legal; their own lawyer, plus an outside firm, had already scrutinized everything. So a "punk" alternative publisher, Soft Skull Press, reprinted it in full with additional material. Sometimes it helps to be too small to crush.


Hersh, Seymour M. The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. New York: Summit Books, 1983. 698 pages.

Until this book came out, the only people who had critical words for Henry Kissinger were the right, what was left of the left, and an occasional author such as William Shawcross in 1979 (Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia). Hersh's work is the standard for mainstream Kissinger criticism, against which all other efforts are measured. It includes an entire hamper of laundry: his stranglehold on foreign policy, the wiretaps on reporters, and his policies on Southeast Asia, China, and SALT. Two of the best chapters are on the coup in Chile, which NameBase indexed from their appearance in The Atlantic Monthly in December, 1982.

Hersh has over a dozen journalism prizes and numerous scoops to his credit: the My Lai massacre (1969), the secret bombing of Cambodia (1973), CIA domestic spying (1974), Edwin Wilson and Libya (1981), and Manuel Noriega (1986). In 1972 he began working for the New York Times from Washington. On rare occasions his byline still appears on their front page or in their Sunday magazine, but these days he mostly free-lances.


Hitchens, Christopher. The Trial of Henry Kissinger. London: Verso, 2001. 159 pages.

Fifteen years ago, before the end of the Cold War and the erosion of national sovereignty, the title of this book would have seemed strange. Then a funny thing happened on the way to globalization -- an emerging international consensus began holding individuals accountable for gross violations of human rights. A judge in Spain goes after Augusto Pinochet in Britain, as Yugoslavians stand trial at a U.N. tribunal in The Hague. Though Kissinger is in little danger, perhaps he thinks twice now about traveling. Soon after this book was published, a French judge sent officials to the Ritz hotel in Paris, where Kissinger was staying, and invited him to appear and answer questions about U.S. involvement in the coup in Chile. Kissinger declined and went on his merry way. But the next time something like this happens, the judge may be even bolder.

Hitchens is an excellent writer and researcher. Various chapters discuss aspects of Kissinger's career in light of commonly-accepted criteria for judging culpability. The book begins in Indochina, and continues with Bangladesh in 1971, Chile in the 1970s, Cyprus in 1974, East Timor in 1975, and the Greek junta that targeted a U.S. activist for assassination. The next time Ted Koppel brown-noses for the good Doctor, remind yourself that the jury is still out on Kissinger's place in history.


Judis, John B. William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988. 528 pages.

When William F. Buckley, Jr., founded The National Review in 1955, U.S. conservatives were our "stupid party" (as J.S. Mill called England's Tories). Real intellectuals, it seemed then, derived from the New Deal -- or the left. Conservative thinking, such as it was, had mixed and mostly dubious antecedents: e.g., American nativism; pre-"Vatican II" Catholicism; the mystical anticommunism of Whittaker Chambers; or the cultish (as it seemed then) laissez-faire of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek.

Buckley and his magazine changed all that. John Judis's massive biography details how Buckley helped create conservative readers and institutions (e.g., Young Americans for Freedom) that made politicians like Goldwater and Reagan possible. As a Yalie and a CIA agent, and as the dutiful son of a rich oil wildcatter who was also a devout Catholic, Buckley's own life bridged many of the varieties of conservatism that later would fuse in the Reagan 80s -- and which now may once again be coming apart. Judis's account also suggests (to me, at least) that politics remains for Buckley the intellectual game he first practiced as a brilliant, devout, eager-to-please child on his father's estate.

-- Steve Badrich


Kessler, Ronald. The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Adnan Khashoggi. New York: Warner Books, 1986. 274 pages.

One example of wretched excess in the twentieth century is wheeler- dealer Adnan Khashoggi. He liked to throw extravagant parties for beautiful people and classy prostitutes at one of his twelve fully-staffed residences, on his $70 million yacht, or on one of his three commercial-size airplanes. His wealth, estimated at $4 billion in 1986, came from hefty commissions for arranging deals between U.S. defense contractors and the Saudi royal family. For years our mass media favored him with fawning reports on his lifestyle. Author Ronald Kessler does some of this, but fortunately this book is redeemed with a significant amount of investigative material.

Kessler wrote this at the peak of Khashoggi's career. Soon Khashoggi found himself in the middle of the Iran-contra scandal because of his work with Manucher Ghorbanifar in setting up several of the arms-for-hostages deals. Some of these deals were connected with BCCI, where Khashoggi was a major client. In 1988 he and Imelda Marcos were indicted in Manhattan for helping her late husband hide assets that belonged to the Philippine people. Khashoggi was arrested in Switzerland and extradited, but he and Imelda were acquitted in 1990. At last report (March 1992), Khashoggi sold his yacht and creditors impounded his jet. He lives mostly in Spain, is still fighting his legal battles, and was down to his last $54 million.


Kessler, Ronald. The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded. New York: Warner Books, 1997. 463 pages.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy (1888-1969) made big money by running booze during Prohibition with Frank Costello and other Mafia heavies, and by manipulating Wall Street with insider trading that would be illegal today. Next came $5 million from the movie business, using equally dubious methods, and a new girlfriend, Gloria Swanson. When the 1929 crash arrived, Joe made more money -- he had already sold off most of his holdings, and was selling short on the Street.

His political career began in 1934, when Roosevelt appointed him to head the SEC on the theory that it takes a thief to catch one. In 1938 Joe became U.S. ambassador to Britain, but resigned in 1940 due to his Cliveden Set sympathies for a policy of appeasement toward Hitler. After the war, Joseph Kennedy arranged favorable publicity and purchased votes for his son John. After JFK won in 1960, Joe instructed him to appoint Bobby as attorney general. Judging from this excellent biography, throughout his life Joseph Kennedy was a philanderer, an unprincipled manipulator, and a power-hungry wheeler-dealer, who supervised and financed the careers of his compliant sons. In 1961 he suffered a stroke. For the next eight years, he watched speechlessly from a wheelchair, with questionable comprehension, as one tragedy after another destroyed the dynasty he had created.


Schwarz, Ted. Joseph P. Kennedy: The Mogul, the Mob, the Statesman, and the Making of an American Myth. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. 472 pages.

Ted Schwarz is the author or coauthor of more than 100 books, including "The Peter Lawford Story," "The Kennedys: The Third Generation," and "Rose Kennedy and Her Family." This biography, in other words, probably includes most of the juicy details that can possibly be found about the exploits of Joseph P. Kennedy. For example, the extent to which he and Rose aggressively ran JFK's political campaigns causes one to entertain second thoughts about the Camelot years. Was JFK as independent and high-minded as we assume?

Joe Kennedy was a bank president, he helped run a shipyard, he was appointed to the Maritime Commission, he was the first commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and he was ambassador to England from 1938-1940. He also did business with the mob, had an affair with actress Gloria Swanson, made big money as a Hollywood insider and stock manipulator, occasionally laundered money and evaded taxes, and helped Rose raise nine children in an atmosphere of privilege and luxury, as well as strict discipline, high-pressure expectations, and competitiveness. Joe's wealth was acquired with a self-serving eye toward power and influence, and he had no interest in philanthropy. He suffered a stroke in 1961 and died in 1969.


Maheu, Robert (with Richard Hack). Next to Hughes. New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1993. 358 pages.

There are two reactions when people think of Howard Hughes. The average person thinks of Hollywood, the Spruce Goose, Las Vegas, and an old man who wasted away in a well-guarded suite somewhere, paranoid of germs, who for decades did not show himself to even his closest aides. Others react by thinking of the CIA, Mafia, and Watergate connections, and those spooky Intertel agents. These people tend to be suspicious of all the news stories. Robert Maheu wrote this book for the average person; either he doesn't know all that much or he's still not willing to tell. Maheu, who never saw Hughes, was his Number One wheeler-dealer from the late 1950s until 1970. By that time Hughes' paranoia played into the hands of other aides, who used his isolation to manage the information he received and the documents he signed. They took him out of the country and effectively captured his empire.

Maheu tells about his work for the CIA (he was the CIA-Mafia liaison for the assassination attempts on Castro), and mentions the Hughes cash contributions to Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. His narrative also paints a fascinating picture of how the powerful get things done by dropping a word to various well-placed elites. But in the end Maheu sees himself as just another nice guy who got taken for a ride, and many of his readers will feel that there's still plenty he'd prefer not to share with commoners like us.


Tarpley, Webster Griffin and Chaitkin, Anton. George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography. Washington DC: Executive Intelligence Review, 1992. 659 pages.

The Lyndon LaRouche organization has a thing about George Bush. One reason is that Bush personifies the sort of Anglo-American, Ivy League elitism -- from "old boy" family connections to "old boy" spook connections -- that has occupied LaRouche for the past two decades. Another is that LaRouche was a federal political prisoner during Bush's tenure, after having been targeted by the feds and railroaded on flimsy evidence. This book, published just before the 1992 election, gets weird at the end (LaRouche claims that Bush's hyperactive thyroid led us into Panama and the Gulf). But the previous 600 pages are a massive compendium of elitist connections not found elsewhere. Though a bit wobbly, perhaps, the book manages to stand on its own, if mainly by default.

It's also fair to ask what makes LaRouche tick. One theory is that he may be secretly sponsored by the Vatican. How else does one explain the tantrums against Freemasonry and secret societies (such as Bush's Skull and Bones), against Anglican apostasy (dope-pushing British imperialism), and against anything that smacks of planned parenthood or population control (the Malthusian activism of the Rockefellers)? When these tirades are occasionally juxtaposed with respectful quotations from His Holiness, it makes us wonder.


Thomas, Evan. The Man to See: Edward Bennett Williams -- Ultimate Insider; Legendary Trial Lawyer. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991. 587 pages.

Edward Bennett Williams (1920-1988) was often described as "the consummate Washington insider who played to win." After battling cancer for eleven years, the obituaries began on page one and his funeral was attended by 2000 mourners. Williams declined invitations from two presidents (Ford and Reagan) to become CIA director, and Lyndon Johnson once asked him to be the mayor of Washington. He was the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, controlled the Washington Redskins for years, sat on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and was national president of the Knights of Malta since 1984. Williams was best known for his skill as a trial lawyer. His clients included Senator Joseph McCarthy, Jimmy Hoffa, Adam Clayton Powell, mobster Frank Costello, Sugar Ray Robinson, LBJ aide Bobby Baker, John Connally, the Democratic National Committee, and the Washington Post. Frequently Williams picked up the phone solved his client's problems before they went to trial, and sometimes an exasperated judge would discover that his far-flung law firm represented interests on both sides of a civil case.

Biographer Evan Thomas is the assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief at Newsweek magazine. Thomas had access to Williams's papers and the cooperation of his widow.


Wallace, Max. The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich. New York: St.Martin's Press, 2003. 465 pages.

Holocaust researcher Max Wallace takes on American anti-Semitism and the 1930s isolationist movement in this dual biography of Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and concludes that these two "actively chose to impair the Allied war effort, jeopardizing the survival of democratic Europe." The most valuable contribution of this book is its treatment of the role Ford Motor Company played in Germany in the 1930s. In this sense, it follows a line of inquiry that began with "IBM and the Holocaust" (2001) by Edwin Black. The history of Ford Motor Company and IBM in Nazi Germany remains instructive for today's debate over globalization issues.

It is less useful to look at Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh as individuals. Ford was anti-Semitic, mostly during the 1920s and early 1930s, while Lindbergh was isolationist and mildly pro-Nazi until the U.S. declared war on Germany. Isolationism was not extremist -- a Gallup poll conducted on April 26, 1941 found that only 19 percent of Americans supported U.S. entry into the war against Germany and Italy. Until Pearl Harbor, even Roosevelt had never advocated direct intervention in Europe. Lindbergh may have been naive in retrospect, but all he ever did was some public speaking. It seems a bit unfair to lump him in with Henry Ford, whose factories in Germany were churning out troop carriers for the Nazis as late as 1941.


Weinberg, Steve. Armand Hammer: The Untold Story. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1989. 501 pages.

This biography of Armand Hammer is one of five, but the first that is unauthorized. Reviewer Anthony Sampson thought even this one was overly kind, but that was before the ever-litigious Hammer filed a nuisance suit in England alleging 173 instances of defamation. Until Hammer died in December 1990, Steve Weinberg -- a journalism professor at the University of Missouri and director of Investigative Reporters and Editors -- was looking at what could have been the most expensive defamation trial in British history.

Hammer's self-celebrated career began at a meeting with Lenin, and blossomed into a long series of insider business deals in the USSR. Soviet documents reveal that he ferried $34,000 from the Soviets to the American Communist Party in 1921. But Hammer wasn't one to let ideology get in the way of business -- in 1976 he pleaded guilty to charges of trying to conceal a $54,000 contribution to Nixon's reelection campaign, and received a tiny fine (and eventually a pardon from George Bush). Hammer's control over his $20 billion Occidental Petroleum was so firm that stockholders complained about picking up the tab for his art collections. Although he was frequently under SEC investigation, his lawyers and connections always came through. Before the "Teflon tycoon" died at age 92, many were beginning to worry that the hyperactive Hammer was not only untouchable, but might even be immortal.


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