Courtesy Reuters

Few men are privileged to say that they were "present at the creation," to borrow Dean Acheson's felicitous phrase. John J. McCloy could make that claim with great pride, for he was assistant secretary of war during World War II, and he was one of a small circle of FDR's trusted advisers who were aware of the Manhattan Project. Thus, at a critical moment, John McCloy was in a position to change world history.

It was June 18, 1945, at the White House. President Truman was canvassing the views of his senior advisers on the prospect of invading Japan; various views were offered and just before the meeting broke up Harry Truman said, "We haven't heard from you, McCloy, and no one leaves this meeting without standing up and being counted." John McCloy proceeded to stand up and be counted: we ought to have our heads examined if we do not seek

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