In his fascinating debut, policy strategist John Gans sheds light on one of the most enigmatic and profoundly influential institutions of the American government: the National Security Council (NSC). Written for policy wonks and political novices alike, White House Warriors is laid out as a chronology, tracing the NSC from its post-World War II inception, under President Truman's National Security Act of 1947, to its present-day incarnation and mode of operation under President Trump. Gans, in remarkable detail, explains how the advisory body has historically acted as a close, but unofficial, arm of the executive branch. He details, through key historical figures, how some of the most consequential decisions about war were made from boardrooms and briefing rooms. Perhaps most saliently, Gans demonstrates that the NSC is one of the principal ways through which readers can understand executive power and how different presidents choose to exercise it.
The NSC is the venue where looming figures in American politics like Henry Kissinger rose to power. It is an institution that has birthed both scandal and heroic effort. Gans gives his readers a three-dimensional view of the NSC by examining it closely at key historical points: the Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra affair and the invasion of Iraq. For a policy expert who obviously understands every nuance and contour of the NSC, Gans delivers an account that is illuminating, exceptionally readable and in the interest of any who wish to understand the American way of war. --Emma Levy, bookseller at Third Place Books Seward Park, Seattle, Wash.