Bill Bullitt (1891-1967) was one of the most colorful and egocentrically brilliant figures ever to appear on the American diplomatic stage. In 1919, on a secret mission for President Wilson, he met Lenin and was enraptured. In the 1930s he was Franklin Roosevelt's ambassador to the Soviet Union and then to France. During World War II, coming full circle in his attitude toward the Soviet Union, he was a premature cold warrior. The authors do an entertaining job of depicting Bullitt's rambunctious character and high social style. Their grasp of the international context, however, is only adequate.