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In The Nation's Service:

Stanford University Press, January 2023

The Life and Times of George P. Shultz

Without George Shultz, Ronald Reagan could not have achieved the most important foreign policy accomplishment of his presidency: the unwinding of the Cold War. Shultz’s gift for forging relationships and his passion for finding practical solutions to complex challenges allowed him to alter the arc of history during the Reagan administration, often in the face of withering resistance. His prescient warnings in recent years about climate change, technological advances and Russian expansionism set him apart from an increasingly illiberal Republican Party. With the help of exclusive access to Shultz’s papers — including a secret diary maintained by one of his executive assistants while Shultz was secretary of state  — longtime New York Times reporter and editor Philip Taubman chronicles Shultz’s life and provides an insider account of his struggle to gain command of American foreign policy. 


In The Nation’s Service shows the shaping of Shultz’s life and career through the full sweep of the 20th century. After serving in World War II, studying at Princeton and MIT, teaching at MIT and the University of Chicago and working as a dean at the University of Chicago, Shultz entered public service as secretary of labor for President Richard Nixon. He crafted the groundbreaking plan that helped integrate the building trades and led an effort to desegregate Southern urban schools systems. He then served as the first director of the Office of Management and Budget, and then as Secretary of the Treasury, where he designed a new system of international exchange rates no longer anchored to the value of the dollar or the price of America’s gold reserves. Although he resisted Nixon’s primary request to use the IRS to investigate his enemies, Shultz did succumb to the demand that the IRS pursue Lawrence O’Brien (a top Democratic Party leader), a case fully explored for the first time in this book. Shultz’s willingness to defer to people in positions of power and his exaggerated sense of loyalty would haunt him at times throughout his career.


Reagan brought Shultz into his Cabinet in 1982.  He came to town with a vision of easing cold war tensions, but immediately ran into opposition from anti-Soviet ideologues in Reagan’s inner circle, and the neglect of an inattentive president. For several years, Shultz was outmaneuvered by rivals and bewildered by the disarray in the Reagan national security team. But with determination, multiple resignation threats, a critical assist from Nancy Reagan, and an abiding faith that trust could overcome these barriers, he slowly forged a remarkable partnership with President Reagan.

Advance Praise

"This is a masterpiece. Philip Taubman, one of the great reporters and editors from The New York Times, has dug forever and found the real, authentic George Shultz, one of the true peacemakers of the 20th century. Essentially positive but not avoiding some well-documented criticisms, this biography reminds me of David McCullough's classic biographies of Presidents John Adams and Harry Truman — defining and sure-footed in every paragraph."

-- Bob Woodward

"The nuanced diplomacy of George Shultz at the end of the Cold War was a major reason that 45-year conflict ended with a whimper rather than the nuclear bang we had all feared. In his biography about Shultz, Philip Taubman masterfully explains the many keys to Shultz’s success, including his giant intellect and understated ability to build personal relationships with his interlocutors in the Soviet Union. In the Nation’s Service is a must read for those interested in the life and times of one of our nation’s foremost secretaries of state."

-- James A. Baker, III
    61st U.S. Secretary of State

"Philip Taubman has written an outstanding book about the extraordinary life and public service of Secretary Shultz. As Taubman describes in these pages, Shultz possessed the rare ability to build consensus among people with diverse and sometimes deeply opposing views, exhibiting an agile diplomacy that allowed him to aid in the peaceful end of the Cold War. Taubman’s account deftly captures the character of this American icon, the halls of power in which he served the nation, and the consequential one hundred years in which he lived."

-- Condoleezza Rice
    66th US Secretary of State

In th Nation's Service

The Partnership:

HarperCollins, January 2012

Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb

A terrorist attack with nuclear weapons is the most dangerous security issue America faces today—and we are far more vulnerable than we realize. Driven by this knowledge, five men—all members of the Cold War brain trust behind the U.S. nuclear arsenal—have come together to combat this threat, leading a movement that is shaking the nuclear establishment and challenging the United States and other nations to reconsider their strategic policies.

Illuminating and thought-provoking, The Partnership tells the little-known story of their campaign to reduce the threat of a nuclear attack and, ultimately, eliminate nuclear weapons altogether. It is an intimate look at these men—Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and the renowned Stanford physicist Sidney Drell—the origins of their unlikely joint effort, and their dealings with President Obama and other world leaders.Award-winning journalist Philip Taubman explores the motivations, past conflicts, and current debates that drive, and sometimes strain, their bipartisan partnership.Through their stories, he examines the political and technological currents that shaped nuclear strategy during the Cold War—including the 1986 Reykjavik summit, at which Reagan and Gorbachev narrowly missed a landmark agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons—and illuminates how the end of that conflict gave rise to the dangerous realities of today. He reveals the heated discussions taking place in Washington and in nuclear-weapons laboratories, and spotlights current threats and the frantic efforts of America and its allies to prevent the spread offissile materials.


Meticulously researched and compellingly told, The Partnership demands that we turn our attention to an issue that has the potential to alter our world order. Philip Taubman has provided an important and timely story of science, history, and friendship—of five men who have decided the time has come to dismantle the nuclear kingdom they worked to build.


“A fascinating, haunting book. . . . Even for skeptics, Taubman’s book provides an important public service by concentrating on nuclear perils that continue to slip our day-to-day notice. . . . Thought-provoking.”

-- The New York Times Book Review

“Taubman ably revisits many of the classic set pieces of the Cold War-the Cuban missile crisis, the Jasons scientific-advisory team, the nuclear alert during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit at Reykjavik.”

-- The San Francisco Chronicle

“A fascinating portrait of an unlikely coalition of disarmament crusaders . . . . Mr. Taubman describes in chilling detail the threat of these terrible weapons falling into the worst possible hands.”

-- The Wall Street Journal

“This brilliant, penetrating study of nuclear threats is in the tradition of David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan. Taubman has, perhaps as importantly, unlocked the history of the war we never had. Readers will tremble at the dangers the world has faced and still faces today.”

-- Bob Woodward

“Taubman provides a cogent and chilling summary of the threat of nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century.”

-- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The Partnership artfully weaves the threads of five notable lives into a fascinating account of nuclear strategizing over the last five decades. This unfailingly compelling narrative is indispensable reading for all who would understand the desperate urgency of containing the menace of nuclear proliferation.”

-- David Kennedy, Professor of History Emeritus, Stanford

“An even-handed look at a convoluted history that is still unfolding. . . . Taubman does a clean job of reducing the elements to layman’s terms. . . . Taubman had unparalleled access to the five men profiled here. . . . It makes for intriguing reading.”

-- The Los Angeles Times

“A richly detailed account of one of the most important issues of our time, The Partnership should be on the bedside of every presidential candidate, national affairs journalist and engaged citizen.”

-- Tom Brokaw


Secret Empire:

Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America's Space Espionage

Simon & Schuster, March 2004

In a brief period of explosive, top-secret innovation during the 1950s, a small group of scientists, engineers, businessmen, and government officials rewrote the book on airplane design and led the nation into outer space. Led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, they invented the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes and the first reconnaissance satellites that revolutionized spying, proved that the missile gap was a myth, and protected the United States from Soviet surprise nuclear attack. They also made possible the space-based mapping, communications, and targeting systems used in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Veteran New York Times reporter and editor Philip Taubman interviewed dozens of participants and mined thousands of previously classified documents to tell this hidden, far-reaching story. He reconstructs the crucial meetings, conversations, and decisions that inspired and guided the development of the spy plane and satellite projects during one of the most perilous periods in our history, a time when, as President Eisenhower said, the world seemed to be "racing toward catastrophe."

This is the story of these secret heroes, told in full for the first time.


“It's hard to believe that the story of the biggest and most radically conceived espionage operation of the twentieth century hasn't been told before now....In this absorbing book, Philip Taubman shows us the entire Secret Empire for the first time.”

-- Tom Wolfe, Author of The Right Stuff

“Philip Taubman has written a book of pure pleasure -- a true adventure tale of good men doing good deeds for the good of the country at a time, in the 1950s, when America was united against the Evil Empire. It is also a story of a group of men who sped up the slow processes of science in the name of national security, and forever changed the way the world worked.”

-- Seymour Hersh

“Taubman takes the subject further with newly declassified archival documents and interviews with pioneers who had previously been reluctant to talk. The result is a fascinating story of America's secret space race."

-- The Los Angeles Times

“Fans of Tom Clancy novels will doubtless be chagrined to discover that those who actually won the Cold War were not Harrison Ford look-alikes but studious engineers and physicists....Many of those who are the heroes of this tale...finally get their due in Taubman's book."

-- The Boston Globe

Secret Empire
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