Fun article on “How the Cold War made Georgetown hot” in the New Yorker.

When conditions are cozy enough, the line between punditry and policymaking begins to blur, and the press and the politicians imagine that, together, they are calling the tunes to which the world waltzes. Something like this happened in the early years of the Cold War. It was a symptom of a striking feature of that period: the relative homogeneity of the people who ran Americaโ€™s foreign policy, headed its foundations and cultural institutions, and published its leading newspapers, and the relative unity of their beliefs.

Indeed. There is a great senior thesis to be written about this in the context of Williams alumni. Combine the careers of a half dozen or so Ephs at the center of this world. Who would you include? CIA Director Richard Helms ’35? Secretary of State Madeline Albright (Eph Mom and ex-wife)? Suggestions welcome!

Loved this story.

Alsop seems to have been mostly undeterred by the threat of blackmail, but it shadowed him for the rest of his life. In 1970, people around Washington began getting letters containing photographs of Joe and Boris in the nudeโ€”evidently a Soviet response to attacks Alsop had made, in his column, on the Soviet Ambassador. With the help of the C.I.A. director, Richard Helms, a back-channel deal was brokered: the photographs stopped appearing, and Alsop ceased attacking.

With Russian archives now (?) open, providing a thorough history of this one incident would make for a great history thesis. Who will write it?

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