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About Evan Thomas
Evan Thomas is one of the most respected historians and journalists writing today. He is the bestselling author of ten works of nonfiction: First: Sandra Day O’Connor, Being Nixon, Ike's Bluff, The War Lovers, Sea of Thunder, John Paul Jones, Robert Kennedy, The Very Best Men, The Man to See, and The Wise Men (with Walter Isaacson). Thomas was an editor and writer at Newsweek for 24 years, where he wrote more than a hundred cover stories.
Thomas has won numerous journalism awards, including a National Magazine Award in 1998. In 2005, his 50,000-word narrative of the 2004 election was honored when Newsweek won a National Magazine Award for the best single-topic issue.
Thomas is a fellow of the Society of American Historians and has taught writing at Princeton and Harvard. He is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Virginia Law School. He lives with his wife and two children in Washington, DC.
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A captivating blend of personal biography and public drama, The Wise Men introduces six close friends who shaped the role their country would play in the dangerous years following World War II.
They were the original best and brightest, whose towering intellects, outsize personalities, and dramatic actions would bring order to the postwar chaos and leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day.
The Wise Men shares the stories of Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt’s special envoy to Churchill and Stalin; Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was more responsible for the Truman Doctrine than Truman and for the Marshall Plan than General Marshall; George Kennan, self-cast outsider and intellectual darling of the Washington elite; Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war, undersecretary of state, and secretary of defense throughout the formative years of the Cold War; John McCloy, one of the nation’s most influential private citizens; and Charles Bohlen, adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union.
“She’s a hero for our time, and this is the biography for our time.”—Walter Isaacson
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR and The Washington Post
She was born in 1930 in El Paso and grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona. At a time when women were expected to be homemakers, she set her sights on Stanford University. When she graduated near the top of her law school class in 1952, no firm would even interview her. But Sandra Day O’Connor’s story is that of a woman who repeatedly shattered glass ceilings—doing so with a blend of grace, wisdom, humor, understatement, and cowgirl toughness.
She became the first ever female majority leader of a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, she stood up to corrupt lawyers and humanized the law. When she arrived at the United States Supreme Court, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, she began a quarter-century tenure on the Court, hearing cases that ultimately shaped American law. Diagnosed with cancer at fifty-eight, and caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s, O’Connor endured every difficulty with grit and poise.
Women and men who want to be leaders and be first in their own lives—who want to learn when to walk away and when to stand their ground—will be inspired by O’Connor’s example. This is a remarkably vivid and personal portrait of a woman who loved her family, who believed in serving her country, and who, when she became the most powerful woman in America, built a bridge forward for all women.
Praise for First
“Cinematic . . . poignant . . . illuminating and eminently readable . . . First gives us a real sense of Sandra Day O’Connor the human being. . . . Thomas gives O’Connor the credit she deserves.”—The Washington Post
“[A] fascinating and revelatory biography . . . a richly detailed picture of [O’Connor’s] personal and professional life . . . Evan Thomas’s book is not just a biography of a remarkable woman, but an elegy for a worldview that, in law as well as politics, has disappeared from the nation’s main stages.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A biography of eloquence and breadth . . . No single volume about Nixon’s long and interesting life could be so comprehensive.”—Chicago Tribune
One of Time’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year
In this revelatory biography, Evan Thomas delivers a radical, unique portrait of America’s thirty-seventh president, Richard Nixon, a contradictory figure who was both determinedly optimistic and tragically flawed. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Party and its “silent majority” of disaffected whites and conservative ex-Dixiecrats, Nixon was also deemed a liberal in some quarters for his efforts to desegregate Southern schools, create the Environmental Protection Agency, and end the draft.
The son of devout Quakers, Richard Nixon (not unlike his rival John F. Kennedy) grew up in the shadow of an older, favored brother and thrived on conflict and opposition. Through high school and college, in the navy and in politics, Nixon was constantly leading crusades and fighting off enemies real and imagined. He possessed the plainspoken eloquence to reduce American television audiences to tears with his career-saving “Checkers” speech; meanwhile, Nixon’s darker half hatched schemes designed to take down his political foes, earning him the notorious nickname “Tricky Dick.” Drawing on a wide range of historical accounts, Thomas’s biography reveals the contradictions of a leader whose vision and foresight led him to achieve détente with the Soviet Union and reestablish relations with communist China, but whose underhanded political tactics tainted his reputation long before the Watergate scandal.
A deeply insightful character study as well as a brilliant political biography, Being Nixon offers a surprising look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness—a balanced portrait of a president too often reduced to caricature.
Praise for Being Nixon
“Terrifically engaging . . . a fair, insightful and highly entertaining portrait.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Thomas has a fine eye for the telling quote and the funny vignette, and his style is eminently readable.”—The New York Times Book Review
Within the inner circles of Washington, they were regarded as the best and the brightest. They planned and acted to keep the country out of war—by stealth and “political action” and to do by cunning and sleight of hand what great armies could not, must not be allowed to do. In the end, they were too idealistic and too honorable, and were unsuited for the dark, duplicitous life of spying. Their hubris and naïveté led them astray, producing both sensational coups and spectacular blunders like the Bay of Pigs and the failed assassination attempts on foreign leaders in the early 1960s. Thomas draws on the CIA's own secret histories, to which he has had exclusive access, as well as extensive interviews, to bring to life a crucial piece of American history.
Upon assuming the presidency in 1953, Dwight Eisenhower set about to make good on his campaign promise to end the Korean War. Yet while Eisenhower was quickly viewed by many as a doddering lightweight, behind the bland smile and simple speech was a master tactician. To end the hostilities, Eisenhower would take a colossal risk by bluffing that he might use nuclear weapons against the Communist Chinese, while at the same time restraining his generals and advisors who favored the strikes. Ike's gamble was of such magnitude that there could be but two outcomes: thousands of lives saved, or millions of lives lost.
A tense, vivid and revisionist account of a president who was then, and still is today, underestimated, Ike's Bluff is history at its most provocative and thrilling.
Told from both the American and Japanese sides, through the eyes of commanders and sailors of both navies, Thomas's history adds an important new dimension to our understanding of World War II.
Drawing on oral histories, diaries, correspondence, postwar testimony from both American and Japanese participants, and interviews with survivors, Thomas provides an account not only of the great sea battle and Pacific naval war, but of the contrasting cultures pitted against each other.
John Paul Jones, at sea and in the heat of the battle, was the great American hero of the Age of Sail. He was to history what Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey and C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower are to fiction. Ruthless, indomitable, clever; he vowed to sail, as he put it, “in harm’s way.” Evan Thomas’s minute-by-minute re-creation of the bloodbath between Jones’s Bonhomme Richard and the British man-of-war Serapis off the coast of England on an autumn night in 1779 is as gripping a sea battle as can be found in any novel.
Drawing on Jones’s correspondence with some of the most significant figures of the American Revolution—John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson—Thomas’s biography teaches us that it took fighters as well as thinkers, men driven by dreams of personal glory as well as high-minded principle, to break free of the past and start a new world. Jones’s spirit was classically American.
On February 15, 1898, the American ship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. Some in the United States greeted the event with more enthusiasm than alarm. Dismayed by the “closing” of the Western frontier, politicians Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge wanted to see their country exert its muscle overseas. The sinking of the Maine would provide the excuse they’d been waiting for, especially when newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst falsely announced in the New York Journal that Spain’s “secret infernal machine” had destroyed the battleship.
Meanwhile, the philosopher William James, Roosevelt’s former teacher, and Thomas Reed, the powerful Speaker of the House, stood against what would become the Spanish-American War. At stake was not only sending troops to fight Spain in Cuba and the Philippines, but the friendships between these men.
Now, bestselling historian Evan Thomas examines this monumental turning point in American history. Epic in scope and revelatory in detail, The War Lovers takes us from Boston mansions to the halls of Congress to the beaches of Cuba and the jungles of the Philippines. It is landmark work with an unforgettable cast of characters—and provocative relevance today.
Legendary attorney Edward Bennet Williams was arguably the best trial lawyer ever to practice. Now, for the first time, bestselling author Evan Thomas takes us into the courtrooms of Williams's greatest performances as he defends "Godfather" Frank Costello, Jimmy Hoffa, Frank Sinatra, The Washington Post, and others, as well as behind the scenes where the witnesses are coached, the traps set, and the deals cut.
In addition to being a lawyer of unprecedented influence, Williams was also an important Washington insider, privy to the secrets of America's most powerful men. Thomas tells the truth behind the stories that made Williams one of the most talked about public figures of his time, including Williams's role in the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the possibility that Williams may have been Watergate's Deep Throat. Based on Thomas's exclusive access to Williams's papers, The Man to See is an unprecedented look at the strategies and influence of this exceptional man.
In this book, a compelling narrative by Evan Thomas, Newsweek shares the inside stories from one of the most exciting elections in recent history, illuminating the personalities and events that influenced the outcome, and taking stock of the key players and key issues for the new administration. This will be an absorbing read for anyone interested in American politics.