In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents They Served from JFK to George W. Bush

Author: 
Author data: 
Ivo H. Daalder
Publication Date: 
February 2009
Description: 

Simon & Schuster

Project: 
National Security Council Project
Document Type: 
Books and Monographs

An excerpt from this book appeared in the January/February 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs.

The most solemn obligation of any president is to safeguard the nation's security. But the president cannot do this alone. He needs help. In the past half century, presidents have relied on their national security advisers to provide that help.

Who are these people, the powerful officials who operate in the shadow of the Oval Office, often out of public view and accountable only to the presidents who put them there? Some remain obscure even to this day. But quite a number have names that resonate far beyond the foreign policy elite: McGeorge Bundy, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice.

Ivo Daalder and Mac Destler provide the first inside look at how presidents from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush have used their national security advisers to manage America's engagements with the outside world. They paint vivid portraits of the fourteen men and one woman who have occupied the coveted office in the West Wing, detailing their very different personalities, their relations with their presidents, and their policy successes and failures.