The author provides a personal study of history during the last two thirds of the twentieth century, from 1934 and the New Deal to the present day
John Kenneth Galbraith, the noted economist, joined Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal in 1934 and served that administration during World War II in the crucial role of deputy head of the Office of Price Administration in charge of price control. His service to FDR and his relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt began a long involvement with the leaders who would define much of the course of the twentieth century: Truman, Stevenson, John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, Nehru, Lyndon Johnson, and others at home and abroad. Drawing on a lifetime of access to many of the greatest public figures, Galbraith creates a rich and uniquely personal history of the century -- a history he helped to shape. We are invited to hear FDR on the Great Depression and World War II; Albert Speer, the Third Reich's architect and armaments minister, on the boorishness and incompetence of the Nazi leadership; John F. Kennedy, from youth to the presidency; Jacqueline Kennedy's shrewd judgments of the White House inner circle. In this clear-eyed, unsparing, and amusing look back at the world and the people he has known, Galbraith tells what these leaders did -- how they looked to him then and how they look to him now -- with unforgettable reminiscences and a rich infusion of engaging anecdotes. Name-Dropping charts the political landscape of the past sixty-five years with the dazzling insight, humor, and literary skill that mark Galbraith as one of the most distinguished writers of our time. Just some of the portraits . . . Eisenhower's brother remembered a meeting in the Oval Office at which some difficult and potentially very unpopular decision was reached. Reflecting on the expected adverse reaction, Ike had said, "It's all right. When I've explained it to the press, no one will have any clear idea what we intend to do." Kennedy's preference for plain talk did not spare his friends. Before I left for New Delhi in April 1961, we had a farewell breakfast at the White House. That morning the New York Times had a piece on the new ambassador to India; Kennedy asked how I liked it. It had been generally favorable, and I said it was all right, but I didn't see why they had to call me arrogant. "I don't know why not," said Kennedy. "Everybody else does." Nehru said that one day at Gandhi's ashram in Ahmedabad a friend and supporter sought to ease a conflict with the British Viceroy by saying, "Mahatma, you must know that Lord Irwin never makes a decision without praying over it first." Gandhi reflected on this for some minutes. Then he said, "And why do you suppose God so consistently gives him the wrong advice?" Johnson once said to me, "Did it ever occur to you, Ken, that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissin' down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else." Not since have I given a speech on economics without having that metaphor in mind.