McGeorge Bundy

McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge Bundy during a 1967 meeting in the Oval Office
6th United States National Security Advisor
In office
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Gordon Gray
Succeeded by Walt Rostow
Personal details
Born March 30, 1919(1919-03-30)
Boston, Massachusetts
Died September 16, 1996(1996-09-16) (aged 77)
Boston, Massachusetts
Resting place Mount Auburn Cemetery
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Alma mater Yale University
Profession Foreign and defense policy advisor

McGeorge "Mac" Bundy (March 30, 1919 – September 16, 1996) was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 through 1966, and president of the Ford Foundation from 1966 through 1979. He is known primarily for his role in escalating the involvement of the United States in Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.


Early life

Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Bundy came from a wealthy family long involved in Republican[1] politics. His mother, Katherine Lawrence Putnam, was the daughter of two Boston Brahmin families listed in the Social Register. His father, Harvey Hollister Bundy, was from Grand Rapids, Michigan and was a diplomat who helped implement the Marshall Plan.

Bundy attended the elite Dexter School in Brookline, Massachusetts and then the Groton School, where he placed first in his class and ran the student newspaper and debating society. He was then admitted to Yale University, one year behind his brother William. At Yale, where he majored in mathematics, he served as secretary of the Yale Political Union and then chairman of its Liberal Party. He also wrote a column for the Yale Daily News. Like his father, he was inducted into the Skull and Bones secret society, where he was nicknamed "Odin". He remained in contact with his fellow Bonesmen for decades afterward.[2]


For a year and a half 1945-47,[3] Bundy co-wrote Henry L. Stimson's third-person autobiography with the just-retired United States Secretary of War.

In 1949, Bundy took a position at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York to study Marshall Plan aid to Europe. The study group included such luminaries as Dwight Eisenhower, Allen Dulles, Richard M. Bissell, Jr. and George Kennan. The group's deliberations were sensitive and highly secret, dealing as they did with the highly classified fact that there was a covert side to the Marshall Plan, where the CIA used certain funds to aid anti-communist groups in France and Italy.[4]

Bundy was one of Kennedy's "wise men," and noted professor of government at Harvard University, despite having only a bachelor's degree. In 1953, Bundy was appointed Dean of the Faculty at Harvard at the age of thirty-four, the youngest in the school's history. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1954.[5] He moved into public life in 1961, becoming national security adviser in the Kennedy administration. He played a crucial role in all of the major foreign policy and defense decisions of the Kennedy and part of the Johnson administration. These included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, most controversially, the Vietnam War. From 1964 he was Chairman of the 303 Committee, responsible for coordinating government covert operations.[6]

Bundy was a strong proponent of the Vietnam War during his tenure. He supported escalating the American involvement and the bombing of North Vietnam.

He left government in 1966 to take over as president of the Ford Foundation, a position he held until 1979. He was named to the "master list" of President Richard Nixon's infamous "Enemies List."

In January 1969, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson.

From 1979 to 1989, he was Professor of History at New York University. He was scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Corporation from 1990–1996.


Bundy's death was the result of a massive heart attack. [7]


Gordon Goldstein's 2008 book Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam was reported to be, in late September, 2009, the "must-read-book" amongst President Barack Obama's war advisers, as they contemplated the alternative courses ahead in Afghanistan. Richard C. Holbrooke, who had reviewed the book in late November, 2008, was now a member of the team of Presidential advisers.[1][8]

Bundy in film

In the 2000 film Thirteen Days, McGeorge Bundy is portrayed by Frank Wood. In the 2002 HBO film Path to War, Bundy is portrayed by Cliff DeYoung. He was also played by James Olson in the 1974, made for TV film, The Missiles of October.

See also



  1. ^ a b 'The Doves Were Right' Review by Richard C. Holbrooke of Goldstein, Gordon M., Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam, The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 28, 2008 (Nov. 30, 2008 on p. BR12 of NY ed.). Retrieved 7/7/09.
  2. ^ Goldstein, Gordon M. (2008). Lessons in disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the path to war in Vietnam. Henry Holt. 
  3. ^ Search of NYTimes for "mcgeorge bundy stimson" "When Bundy Says, 'The President Wants--'"; December 2, 1962 article in paid archive. Partial quote: "After V-J Day, Bundy spent a year and a half working on the Stimson book, ...." Retrieved 7/7/09.
  4. ^ Covert CIA side to the Marshall Plan - see Kai Bird, The Color of Truth: McGeorge and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998, (p.106)
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Miller, James E. (2001). Foreign Relations, 1964–1968 Volume XII. United States Government Printing Office. 
  7. ^ Goldstein, Gordon (2008). Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam. New York: Times Books. pp. 3. ISBN 13:978-0-8050-7971-5. 
  8. ^ Rich, Frank (September 26, 2009), "Op-ed: Obama at the Precipice", The New York Times,, retrieved September 27, 2009 

Further reading

  • Bird, Kai. The Color of Truth: McGeorge and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998. ISBN 0684809702.
  • Bundy, McGeorge. Danger and Survival: Choices about the Bomb in the First Fifty Years. New York: Vintage Books, 1988. ISBN 0394522788.
  • Bundy, McGeorge. "The Issue Before the Court: Who Gets Ahead in America?", The Atlantic Monthly 240, no. 5 (November 1977), pp. 41–54.
  • Halberstam, David. "The Very Expensive Education of McGeorge Bundy". Harper's Magazine 239, no. 1430 (July 1969), pp. 21–41.
  • Gardner, Lloyd. "Harry Hopkins with Hand Grenades? McGeorge Bundy in the Kennedy and Johnson Years", in Behind the Throne: Servants of Power to Imperial Presidents, 1898–1968, ed. by Thomas J. McCormick and Walter LaFeber. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. pp. 204–229. ISBN 0299137406.
  • Goldstein, Gordon M., Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam (NY: Times Books/Henry Holt & Co., 2008) 300 pp. ISBN 0805090878 ISBN 978-0805090871
  • Nünlist, Christian. Kennedys rechte Hand: McGeorge Bundys Einfluss als Nationaler Sicherheitsberater auf die amerikanische Aussenpolitik, 1961–63. Zurich: Center for Security Studies, 1999. ISBN 3905641615.
  • Preston, Andrew. The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0674021983.
  • Stimson, Henry and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1947).

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Gordon Gray
United States National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Walt Rostow

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Bundy, McGeorge — born March 30, 1919, Boston, Mass., U.S. died Sept. 16, 1996, Boston U.S. public official and educator. He served in World War II as an intelligence officer. He joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1949 and became dean of arts and sciences …   Universalium

  • Bundy, William P. — ▪ 2001       U.S. presidential adviser (b. Sept. 24, 1917, Washington, D.C. d. Oct. 6, 2000, Princeton, N.J.), was one of the foremost architects of the U.S. policy in Vietnam. He and his younger brother, McGeorge, who was national security… …   Universalium

  • Bundy, McGeorge — (30 mar. 1919, Boston, Mass., EE.UU.–16 sep. 1996, Boston). Funcionario público y educador estadounidense. Participó en la segunda guerra mundial como oficial de inteligencia. En 1949 ingresó como docente a la Universidad de Harvard y en 1953 fue …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Harvey Hollister Bundy — Sr., (March 30, 1888 October 7, 1963), was an American lawyer, Special Assistant to the Secretary of War during the second World War, and father of McGeorge Bundy. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to McGeorge Bundy, a lawyer, he was grandson to… …   Wikipedia

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