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Publisher's Summary

Six close friends 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 whose strong response to Soviet expansionism would leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day.

In April 1945, they converged to advise an untutored new president, Harry Truman. They were 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.

Together they formulated a doctrine of Communist containment that was to be the foundation of American policy, and years later, when much of what they stood for appeared to be sinking in the mire of Vietnam, they were summoned for their steady counsel. It was then that they were dubbed “the Wise Men.” Working in an atmosphere of trust that in today’s Washington would seem quaint, they shaped a new world order that committed a once-reticent nation to defending freedom wherever it sought to flourish.

©2012 Walter Isaacson and E. Thomas (P)2013 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Cadence

Would you try another book from Evan Thomas and Walter Isaacson and/or Jonathan Reese?

The reader's cadence, or lack thereof, renders this book unendurable.

What could Evan Thomas and Walter Isaacson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Retained a different reader.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jonathan Reese’s performances?

Definitely not!

What character would you cut from The Wise Men?

The reader.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • KD6161
  • Washington, D.C.
  • 03-31-17

Dull with poor narration

Would you be willing to try another one of Jonathan Reese’s performances?

no

Any additional comments?

The content is historically important but dull. The reader has an annoying, artificial-sounding pace, and frequently mispronounces words. For example, anyone who's ever hear the name Joseph Stalin would cringe to hear it stated repeatedly as "Sta-leen"; another example is pronunciation of thesis in a manner that sounds like "feces." These comments may seem petty but the frequency of mispronounced words becomes a huge distraction.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Reader not a problem serious enough to stop rding

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would, if the friend is interested in recent American history. Intertwining these important figures' stories together keeps the reader interested, and the thoroughness of the book is an important asset.

What other book might you compare The Wise Men to and why?

Not as good as masterpieces such as "Truman" or "Team of Rivals" but that type of approach-history told through biography. Similar to "Lords of Finance."

Would you listen to another book narrated by Jonathan Reese?

Probably not, but maybe.

Any additional comments?

The narrator pronounces the word "a" as long and with too much emphasis ( like in "say") This is the only problem I noticed. This continues throughout the book and is a bit annoying, but it didn't ruin the experience. Also, the narrator does read the story enthusiastically, not in a monotone, and that helps a lot.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Tour de Force!

This was a fabulous book, made even better by the narrator. Every university political science student should be assigned this book as required reading

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it, a must read!

This must be a required read for anyone in public service (politics), specially for those in the state department or foreign ministries.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointed: Couldn't Get Passed the Narrator

This book sounds incredibly interesting and I love Walter Isaacson's works, but I could not get passed the first chapter because of the narrator. His performance was slow, boring, and hesitant with a bunch of mispronunciations.

It was tough getting through the over pronunciation of every word and every "a" pronounced "ā", but I had to stop when he pronounced Joseph Stalin as Joseph Stalēn. Come on!

Very disappointing it since I really rely on audiobooks during my commute to and from work.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rob
  • Rockville, MD
  • 05-01-17

loved it, very well written

couldn't stop. great read. actor/reader was a little flat, but not too the determent of the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Revelatory information, distractingly poor performance

Thus is a worthy listen if you are genuinely interested in connecting some essential historical dots across 20th century history. The Wise Men’s influence reaches out even to foreign and military policy in the 21st century. Sadly, the somewhat embarrassing performance of the narrator, who’s wooden style and penchant for mispronunciation (example “Stah-LEEN” rather than “Stalin” throughout) is one of many renderings that make this otherwise interesting book a chore to endure. I recommend the content, but not the narration performance.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fallout fans: Watch how we get into nukes.

A very interesting inner look into the pathway America took between WWII and the nuclear age...and the personalities who guided us there.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story, Terrible Narrator

It is a testament to the book that the terrible narration doesn't cause you to quit listening. I almost gave at the beginning but the compelling subject and the writing kept this worthwhile despite the narration. The narration is more than distracting, it's a discredit to the authors and their subjects.