A key figure in the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, Benjamin V. Cohen (1894-1983) was a major architect of public policy from the first days of FDR's presidency through the early days of the Cold War. Although he kept a low public profile, Cohen's influence extended across a wide range of domestic and foreign policy initiatives. In this biography, William Lasser offers the first account of Ben Cohen's life and career, and an assessment of his contribution to the origin and development of modern American liberalism.
Cohen's life provides an extraordinary lens through which to view the development of the evolving political philosophy of the Roosevelt and Truman presidencies. A brilliant lawyer noted for his good judgment and experience, Cohen was a leading member of FDR's "Brain Trust," developing ideas, drafting legislation, lobbying within the administration and in Congress, and defending the New Deal in court. The book traces his contributions to domestic financial policy, his activities during the war years in London and Washington, his service as counselor to the State Department and member of the American delegation to the United Nations after the war, and his role in the American Zionist movement. From Cohen's life and work, Lasser draws important insights into the development of the New Deal and the evolution of postwar liberalism.