The Foreign Service Journal, December 2023

94 DECEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Shultz was a vigorous supporter of the Foreign Service. He relied on its top-notch talent while at Foggy Bottom. Seeking to amend the historical record, Taubman convincingly argues that Shultz was one of the most influential Americans of the late 20th century. He cites Henry Kissinger, who said, “If I could choose one American to whom I would entrust the nation’s fate in a crisis, it would be George Shultz.” Taubman himself adds: “Across the decades, he served as a model of sensible, nonpartisan leadership, free of rancor and rage.” When Shultz agreed to take the position at State in 1982, U.S. foreign policy was in disarray. Alexander Haig, the previous Secretary, was erratic and did not get along with Reagan’s inner circle. Taubman skillfully details how Secretary Shultz took charge, streamlined the policymaking process, and eventually gained Reagan’s confidence. He ran into a buzz saw of interagency infighting, however, and struggled through the Iran-Contra scandal. Taubman devotes a considerable portion of his narrative to Shultz’s leadership in establishing a constructive relationship with the Soviet Union. Unable to gain traction at first, he swiftly gauged that Mikhail Gorbachev, the new Soviet leader, was “capable of moving relations to a new plane.” His views mirrored those of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who memorably proclaimed: “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.” In his dealings with the Kremlin, Shultz found an exemplary interlocutor in Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Gorbachev’s close ally. Unlike Andrei Gromyko, his dour and obdurate predecessor, Shevardnadze was affable and willing to engage. Following Shultz’s inaugural round of talks with his new counterpart in 1985, an American official enthused: “We’re in a whole new ball game!” Despite occasional crises, Shultz was successful in keeping the U.S. agenda on track. Gorbachev’s bounding out of his limousine in downtown Washington to greet a crowd in 1987 and Reagan’s visit to Moscow’s Red Square in 1988 are unforgettable snapshots from this era. Shultz’s memoir, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (1993), is a valuable resource on the positive trajectory of superpower ties in the 1980s, especially in regard to the intricacies of the arms control negotiations. Many years have passed since those halcyon days. Cold War–like tensions have returned with a vengeance due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fullscale invasion of Ukraine. Shultz was never starry-eyed about Russia, and he recognized Putin’s expansionist agenda early on. Taubman is no doubt correct that Shultz, had he lived, would have “supported American and NATO efforts to provide Ukraine with conventional arms to defend itself against Russian aggression.” BOOKS A Public Servant Extraordinaire In the Nation’s Service: The Life and Times of George P. Shultz Philip Taubman, Stanford University Press, 2023, $20.00/paperback, e-book available, 504 pages. Reviewed by Joseph L. Novak Few Americans made a mark in so many fields as George P. Shultz. A U.S. Marine who saw combat in World War II, he reached the highest rungs of academia and multinational business, later serving with distinction as labor secretary, budget director, and treasury secretary. His tenure as the 60th Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989 was particularly noteworthy, and he became a much-valued elder statesman. Philip Taubman’s In the Nation’s Service masterfully explores all the facets of his subject’s illustrious career and explains their context. Taubman, a former reporter and editor at The New York Times, got to know the then Secretary of State in the 1980s. Shultz asked Taubman, while both were based at Stanford University in 2010, if he would write his biography. In the Nation’s Service makes the case that Shultz has not accrued enough credit for his numerous accomplishments. With respect to U.S. engagement in the unwinding of the Cold War, for instance, the author contends that most observers have focused on the contributions of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and the latter’s Secretary of State, James A. Baker III. Shultz received less attention—his critical role obscured, at least in part, by his unassuming manner, which “shunned the limelight.”