A great editorial commentator of the twentieth century, Walter Lippmann, was a major contributor to the central periodicals and journals of the age, including the Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, Harper's, the New Republic, Saturday Review, and Yale Review. Men of Destiny, a set of biographical essays on leading figures of Lippmann's day, is arguably the best single source for understanding the persons and the policies of the post-World War I period.
In a series of vignettes, the reader is introduced into the lively world of Al Smith, Calvin Coolidge, William Jennings Bryan, H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Warren Harding, Andrew Mellon, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. The collection offers a rare glimpse of the first truly modern generation of American politics and society, and also a type of serious, detached writing that presumes a literate audience, but also one not given over to bias and hostility.
The magic of this volume, however, is not in its litany of figures great and small, but Lippmann's comprehensive understanding of the place of America in world affairs. His essay on American imperialism remains a classic: "All the world thinks of the United States today as an empire, except the people of the United States." His advice to Americans is not to continue being evasive and grandiose with the rhetoric of equality, but to recognize the changing conditions and get on with the task of rule in as honorable a state as is possible by a holder of power.
In his perceptive essays on the League of Nations, the efforts to outlaw war through international law, debt and reparations policies, Lippmann appeals to "time and a sense of reality" in examining all matters political. This volume, graced with a new introduction by Paul Roazen, will enable readers now well into the first decade of a new millennium to do just that.
Walter Lippmann authored at least two dozen books on political thought and was America's most distinguished syndicated columnist. This is the tenth work in a continuing effort by Transaction to publish Lippmann's major works.
Paul Roazen is professor emeritus of social and political science at York University in Toronto. He is the author of The Historiography of Psychoanalysis; Freud: Political and Social Thought; Helen Deutsch: A Psychoanalyst's Life, all published by Transaction.