Holding the Bridge

A portrait of a dedicated senator and steadfast cold warrior.

Issue: Winter 2000-2001

Robert G. Kaufman, Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000).

It was Reagan National Security Adviser Richard Allen who characterized Scoop Jackson by evoking the legend of Horatius, the Roman soldier who single-handedly held off an advancing army at the bridge to Rome. In his new biography of Jackson, Robert G. Kaufman goes a long way toward explaining why Allen would evoke such a figure. There are two related stories here: Jackson the successful politician, and Jackson the forceful proponent of containing the Soviet Union at a time when many, and especially his fellow Democrats, had given up the fight.

Kaufman has produced a fascinating and informative recounting, one that lauds Jackson as an outstanding hero of the Cold War. It is sympathetic yet even-handed in its portrayal of the political context within which Jackson lived.

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