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The First Biography of Henry Cabot Lodge

Draws on White House Tapes of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon

The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War

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"Equal parts statesman and public servant, Lodge sacrificed personal ambition for the good of his country. The Last Brahmin is a worthy endeavor to honor a distinguished figure."

-Henry A. Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State

“‘A nineteenth-century figure dropped into the high-level politics of the more visceral twentieth century.’ Luke Nichter, in his meticulously researched biography, not only gets Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. right. He also brilliantly captures the mismatch between Lodge’s patrician persona and the low morass—namely America’s Vietnam War—into which he sank. A scholarly yet highly readable tour de force.”

-Niall Ferguson, author of Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist

“Combining vast research with a stylish narrative, Luke Nichter reminds us why Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., his life synonymous with the American Century, remains the best in the best and the brightest.”

-Richard Norton Smith, author of On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller

“Luke Nichter, one of America’s leading young historians, restores Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. to his central place in mid-20th-century U.S. history, in shaping both America’s constructive internationalism and its tragic intervention in Vietnam. The Last Brahmin is an impressive achievement.”

-Thomas A. Schwartz, author of Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography

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Few have ever enjoyed the degree of foreign-policy influence and versatility that Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. did—in the postwar era, perhaps only George Marshall, Henry Kissinger, and James Baker. Lodge, however, had the distinction of wielding that influence under presidents of both parties. For three decades, he was at the center of American foreign policy, serving as advisor to five presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to Gerald Ford, and as ambassador to the United Nations, Vietnam, West Germany, and the Vatican.

In The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War (Yale University Press; publication date September 22, 2020; $37.50), Luke A. Nichter brings to light previously unexamined material in telling, for the first time, the full story of Lodge’s life and significance. For Lodge’s political influence was immense:

  • He was the first person, in 1943, to see Eisenhower as a potential president; he entered Eisenhower in the 1952 New Hampshire primary without the candidate’s knowledge, crafted his political positions, and managed his campaign.
  • In the 1950s, as UN ambassador, Lodge was effectively a second secretary of state.
  • In the 1960s, he was called twice, by John F. Kennedy and by Lyndon Johnson, to serve in the toughest position in the State Department’s portfolio, as ambassador to Vietnam. For more than half a century, the consensus has been that President Kennedy had no advance knowledge of the coup that destabilized the Republic of Vietnam and led to deployment of the first U.S. combat troops. Here Nichter reveals Kennedy’s authorization to Lodge—a remarkable discovery that changes our understanding of this chapter in American history.
  • Later, in the 1970s, Lodge paved the way for permanent American ties with the Holy See.

Over his long career, beginning with his arrival in the U.S. Senate at age thirty-four in 1937, when there were just seventeen Republican senators, Lodge did more than anyone else to transform the Republican Party from a regional, isolationist party into the nation’s dominant force in foreign policy.

In this book, historian Luke A. Nichter gives us a compelling narrative of Lodge’s extraordinary and consequential life. Lodge was among the last of the well-heeled Eastern Establishment Republicans who put duty over partisanship and saw themselves as the hereditary captains of the American state.

Unlike many who reach his position, Lodge took his secrets to the grave—including some that, revealed here for the first time, will force historians to rethink their understanding of American domestic politics during Lodge’s era as well as America’s involvement in the world. 


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