In This Review

A Not So Silent Envoy: A Biography of Ambassador Samuel David Berger
A Not So Silent Envoy: A Biography of Ambassador Samuel David Berger
By Graenum Berger
John Washburn Bleeker Hampton, 1992, 221 pp.

A frank and down-to-earth account of a remarkable career, drawing heavily on contemporary letters as well as extensive autobiographical material from the loyalty investigations to which Berger was subjected in the 1950s after running afoul of Richard Nixon while serving in Tokyo. Brought from the labor movement and economics into the federal government by Averell Harriman, Berger did yeoman work in the Lend-Lease mission in Britain during World War II, and then played a key part, with labor leader Irving Brown of the American Federation of Labor and others, in combating communists on the critical and underreported labor front in the postwar political struggle throughout Europe.

Eventually restored to full standing after the Nixon incident, Berger then served in Greece; as ambassador to Korea in the pivotal and fruitful early years of Park Chung Hee's presidency (with Philip Habib as a colleague and protégé); as deputy assistant secretary for East Asia in the mid-1960s (among other things, scheduling the assignments of China hands so that the United States would be ready when the inevitable reconciliation came); and from 1968-72 as deputy ambassador to Ellsworth Bunker in the Vietnam cauldron, where he worked skillfully with the American military command--this, ironically, in the Nixon presidency. At his funeral in 1981, Harriman and Bunker walked together behind the caisson.

No book better illuminates the great postwar days of the new-model foreign service and the wisdom and dedication of its members, who often worked under enormous pressure. No foreign service officer was stouter, more liberal and tough-minded, than Sam Berger. This book tells his life as it was.