Harvard Book Store welcomes veteran reporter PETER SHINKLE for a discussion of his new book, Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler. He will be introduced by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and writer THOMAS POWERS.
President Eisenhower’s National Security Advisor Robert “Bobby” Cutler shaped US Cold War strategy in far more consequential ways than previously understood. A lifelong Republican, Cutler also served three Democratic presidents. The life of any party, he was a tight-lipped loyalist who worked behind the scenes to get things done. While Cutler’s contributions to the public sphere may not have received, until now, the consideration they deserve, the story of his private life has never before been told.
Cutler struggled throughout his years in the White House to discover and embrace his own sexual identity and orientation, and he was in love with a man half his age, NSC staffer Skip Koons. Cutler poured his emotions into a six-volume diary and dozens of letters that have been hidden from history. Steve Benedict—who was White House security officer, Cutlers’ friend, and Koons’ friend and former lover—preserved Cutler’s papers. All three men served Eisenhower at a time when anyone suspected of “sexual perversion”, i.e. homosexuality, was banned from federal employment and vulnerable to security sweeps by the FBI.
“An extraordinary story . . . a man who held the nation’s most sensitive secrets, who also happened to be gay—at a time when such a thing was supposed to be impossible . . . a gripping, moving tale.” —Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World
“This is a book that deserves, and is sure to get, a wide audience.” —Michael Isikoff, co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
“A historical treasure unearthed . . . A must-read for all Cold War scholars, it is a great read for everyone else.” —Martin J. Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.