“Exhaustively researched and remarkably evenhanded.” —The New York Times
“Absorbing…the definitive life story.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fascinating study.” —Los Angeles Times
In The Chairman, the authoritative biography of John J. McCloy, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kai Bird chronicles the life of the man labeled “the most influential private citizen in America.”
Against the backgrounds of World War II, the Cold War, the construction of Pax Americana, the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination, and Vietnam, Bird shows us McCloy’s astonishing rise from self-described “chore boy” to “chairman of the Establishment.”
His powerful circle shaped the postwar globe. But McCloy stood out among them as a towering figure of achievement: as a Wall Street lawyer who earned the confidence of captains of industry and presidents; as Henry Stimson’s right-hand man at the War Department; as president of the World Bank and chairman of the Chase financial empire; and as presidential adviser.
Bird captures every facet of this self-made man. We see McCloy’s commercial acumen as the most in-demand lawyer of Wall Street; his dictatorial will as high commissioner of occupied Germany; and his stoic loyalty as adviser to Presidents FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Ford, and Reagan.
Bird brilliantly explores how McCloy came to epitomize the American Establishment and the values of a generation that led the United States through bitter war and unparalleled prosperity.