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Ike's Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler

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The Cold War, The Lavender Scare and the Untold Story of Eisenhower's First National Security Advisor. "An extraordinary story. . . a gripping, moving tale." -- Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World "A historical treasure unearthed . . . A must-read for all Cold War scholars, it is a great read for everyone else." -- Marti The Cold War, The Lavender Scare and the Untold Story of Eisenhower's First National Security Advisor. "An extraordinary story. . . a gripping, moving tale." -- Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World "A historical treasure unearthed . . . A must-read for all Cold War scholars, it is a great read for everyone else." -- Martin J. Sherwin, Pulitzer-Prize-winning co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer "This is a book that deserves, and is sure to get, a wide audience." -- Michael Isikoff, co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump President Eisenhower's National Security Advisor Robert "Bobby" Cutler shaped US Cold War strategy in far more consequential ways than previously understood. A lifelong Republican, Cutler also served three Denocratic presidents. The life of any party, he was a tight-lipped loyalist who worked behind the scenes to get things done. While Cutler's contributions to the public sphere may not have received, until now, the consideration they deserve, the story of his private life has never before been told. Cutler struggled throughout his years in the White House to discover and embrace his own sexual identity and orientation, and he was in love with a man half his age, NSC staffer Skip Koons. Cutler poured his emotions into a six-volume diary and dozens of letters that have been hidden from history. Steve Benedict, who was White House security officer, Cutlers' friend and Koons' friend and former lover, preserved Cutler's papers. All three men served Eisenhower at a time when anyone suspected of "sexual perversion", i.e. homosexuality, was banned from federal employment and vulnerable to security sweeps by the FBI.


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The Cold War, The Lavender Scare and the Untold Story of Eisenhower's First National Security Advisor. "An extraordinary story. . . a gripping, moving tale." -- Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World "A historical treasure unearthed . . . A must-read for all Cold War scholars, it is a great read for everyone else." -- Marti The Cold War, The Lavender Scare and the Untold Story of Eisenhower's First National Security Advisor. "An extraordinary story. . . a gripping, moving tale." -- Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World "A historical treasure unearthed . . . A must-read for all Cold War scholars, it is a great read for everyone else." -- Martin J. Sherwin, Pulitzer-Prize-winning co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer "This is a book that deserves, and is sure to get, a wide audience." -- Michael Isikoff, co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump President Eisenhower's National Security Advisor Robert "Bobby" Cutler shaped US Cold War strategy in far more consequential ways than previously understood. A lifelong Republican, Cutler also served three Denocratic presidents. The life of any party, he was a tight-lipped loyalist who worked behind the scenes to get things done. While Cutler's contributions to the public sphere may not have received, until now, the consideration they deserve, the story of his private life has never before been told. Cutler struggled throughout his years in the White House to discover and embrace his own sexual identity and orientation, and he was in love with a man half his age, NSC staffer Skip Koons. Cutler poured his emotions into a six-volume diary and dozens of letters that have been hidden from history. Steve Benedict, who was White House security officer, Cutlers' friend and Koons' friend and former lover, preserved Cutler's papers. All three men served Eisenhower at a time when anyone suspected of "sexual perversion", i.e. homosexuality, was banned from federal employment and vulnerable to security sweeps by the FBI.

30 review for Ike's Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lianne Burwell

    Ike's Mystery Man by Peter Shinkle is a very interesting combination of biography and history. On the whole, it is a biography of Robert Cutler, who was the first National Security Advisor. He was also a gay man working in the government during the McCarthy era, when not only communists, but 'sexual perverts' were being hunted as security risks. It doesn't appear that he went to great lengths to hide his sexuality, but he was never exposed. In fact, some powerful people seem to have deliberately Ike's Mystery Man by Peter Shinkle is a very interesting combination of biography and history. On the whole, it is a biography of Robert Cutler, who was the first National Security Advisor. He was also a gay man working in the government during the McCarthy era, when not only communists, but 'sexual perverts' were being hunted as security risks. It doesn't appear that he went to great lengths to hide his sexuality, but he was never exposed. In fact, some powerful people seem to have deliberately shielded him. So, while we learn a lot about the man's life, through school and war and finally government work, as well as his infatuations with younger men, we also get a view of the changing view of government. For example, the book looks at the primary era of the CIA trying to change governments around the world in the US's favour, even though the hindsight of now says that those regime changes rarely worked out well in the long run. We also get a first-hand view of how dangerous it was to be a gay man in government, although I get the feeling that he rarely was a lover of his paramours as much as a mentor. But while he never faced exposure, a number of the younger men in his circle of influence ended having to resign instead of being exposed. The author is a relative of Robert Cutler, and had access to, among other things, a series of diaries that he gave to the young man who was the great love of his life, although the man in question had several regular lovers. Later in life, Cutler seemed to vacillate between great joy whenever they were together to intense depression when he didn't get the reassurances he wanted that he was the focus of the life a man less than half his age. All in all, it was a fabulous read about a part of recent history I knew little about. After all, few people think twice about gays in government anymore, but even in Canada, there was a long period of time when public servants could find themselves under investigation because someone made an accusation. In Canada, they were hooked up to a device called, I kid you not, the Fruit Machine in an attempt to determine homosexuality. Thankfully, the world, for the most part, has moved past that stage.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris Carson

    A terrific read. If you’re interested in IKE’s presidency, the Cold War, or what it was like to live as a gay man in the 50’s closet, this is a terrific story. Well worth the read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    willowdog

    The life of Robert Cutler, a confidant of President Eisenhower, who compartmentalized his gay life for 40 years, is wonderfully told. If one is looking for a gay life during the 1930's through 1960's, one will be disappointed. After an experience in his youth, he seems to have buried these feelings, only to have them awaken in his later life. However, in this very complete biography, one gets the life of a man who is intimately involved in some of the most fascinating issues of these days. The r The life of Robert Cutler, a confidant of President Eisenhower, who compartmentalized his gay life for 40 years, is wonderfully told. If one is looking for a gay life during the 1930's through 1960's, one will be disappointed. After an experience in his youth, he seems to have buried these feelings, only to have them awaken in his later life. However, in this very complete biography, one gets the life of a man who is intimately involved in some of the most fascinating issues of these days. The revelations of the work of the Ike administration, the background issues involved, the individuals in the administration and Cutler's many friends surprised me. Here was a gay man, who many felt was gay, yet was able to walk the tightrope in this very repressive era. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing this Kindle edition.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ron Willoughby

    I read political biographies to gain insight into an era or obscure, yet significant, events. I don’t read them to find out who slept with whom (straight, gay or bi). General Cutler’s nephew seems so intrigued w his uncle’s love life and what young man he has fallen for that he skips right past significant events. General Cutler was forming policy and philosophy for national security for 8 significant years during the Cold War. He crossed swords with the Dulles brothers. He wrote papers that cha I read political biographies to gain insight into an era or obscure, yet significant, events. I don’t read them to find out who slept with whom (straight, gay or bi). General Cutler’s nephew seems so intrigued w his uncle’s love life and what young man he has fallen for that he skips right past significant events. General Cutler was forming policy and philosophy for national security for 8 significant years during the Cold War. He crossed swords with the Dulles brothers. He wrote papers that challenged thinking on nuclear deterrents, tactical nuclear weapons, Turkey, NATO, etc. Some of these things barely get a mention while the author guesses who his uncle may, or may not have, slept with, or who was or was not gay. Yes, we do gain significant insight into the persecution of homosexuals during the McCarthy era. That is one of the redeeming qualities. But guessing at who General Cutler lusted after and how he felt on such and such week about ‘Skip’ does a disservice to this man’s life, imho. 2 parts political biography to 1 part publishing of the General’s most private of thoughts made me feel like a voyeur, in the worst possible way. Forgive me if this makes me prudish. I’m just disappointed. This book had such great potential.

  5. 5 out of 5

    William Miles

    Wonderfully written biography of a man with a tragic story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eric Luce

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Grace

  9. 4 out of 5

    Devin

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karl Hafer, Jr.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah Russler

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol Tummarello

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Williams

  14. 5 out of 5

    JAMES CHILSON

  15. 5 out of 5

    William Benner

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Book

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ros

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anup Gokhale

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gayle

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allen Leverett

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joel Martin

  23. 4 out of 5

    willowdog

    The life of Robert Cutler, a confidant of President Eisenhower, who compartmentalized his gay life for 40 years, is wonderfully told. If one is looking for a gay life during the 1930's through 1960's, one will be disappointed. After an experience in his youth, he seems to have buried these feelings, only to have them awaken in his later life. However, in this very complete biography, one gets the life of a man who is intimately involved in some of the most fascinating issues of these days. The r The life of Robert Cutler, a confidant of President Eisenhower, who compartmentalized his gay life for 40 years, is wonderfully told. If one is looking for a gay life during the 1930's through 1960's, one will be disappointed. After an experience in his youth, he seems to have buried these feelings, only to have them awaken in his later life. However, in this very complete biography, one gets the life of a man who is intimately involved in some of the most fascinating issues of these days. The revelations of the work of the Ike administration, the background issues involved, the individuals in the administration and Cutler's many friends surprised me. Here was a gay man, who many felt was gay, yet was able to walk the tightrope in this very repressive era. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing this Kindle edition.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tim Flack

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marie Loerzel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brett Fulesday

  27. 4 out of 5

    Randall Roller

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pawansingh

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven Barnes

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hugh Ferguson

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