While serving in the Secret Intelligence Service during the Second World War, Hugh Trevor-Roper decided, illegally and under the threat of a court martial, to keep a diary. Inspired by Samuel Butler’s Note-Books he polished his entries continuously, arranged them in not quite chronological order, and prepared an index for them. They remained a secret during his lifetime, unknown to everyone, even his wife, Alexandra.
In the fall of 2009, a new book captured the attention of President Obama’s national security staff.
Lessons in Disaster, an account of Lyndon Johnson’s decision-making during the Vietnam War as seen through the experiences of McGeorge Bundy, his national security adviser, became the “must-read book for Obama’s war team,” wrote George Stephanopoulos. Obama’s aides were enmeshed in a debate about how to fulfill their boss’ campaign pledge of winning the “good war” in Afghanistan, and they found Lessons—authored by scholar Gordon Goldstein—particularly instructive.