William P. Bundy

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William Putnam Bundy

Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: October 6, 2000 (83)
Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States (heart trouble)
Immediate Family:

Son of Harvey Hollister Bundy, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State and Katherine Lawrence Bundy
Husband of <private> (Acheson) and Mary Bundy
Father of <private> Bundy; <private> (Bundy) and <private> Bundy
Brother of Harvey Hollister Bundy, Jr.; McGeorge Bundy; Harriet Lowell Belin and Katherine Lawrence Bundy

Occupation: Historian
Managed by: Gene Daniell
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About William P. Bundy

William Putnam "Bill" Bundy was a member of the CIA and foreign affairs advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He had a key role in planning the Vietnam War. After leaving government service he became a historian.


William Putnam "Bill" Bundy was an American attorney and intelligence expert, an analyst with the CIA. Bundy served as a foreign affairs advisor to both presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He had key roles in planning the Vietnam War, serving as deputy to Paul Nitze under Kennedy and as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under Johnson.

After leaving government service in 1969, Bundy served as a historian of foreign affairs, teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at Princeton University, from 1972 to his death. His book A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency (1998) is considered his most important work.

Born in 1917 and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, he came from a family long involved in Republican politics. His father, Harvey Hollister Bundy, served as an assistant secretary of state to Colonel Henry L. Stimson beginning in 1931, and later as his special assistant on atomic matters when Stimson was Secretary of War under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Bundy as a diplomat also helped implement the Marshall Plan. Bill was raised in a highly accomplished, highly intellectual family, with a brother McGeorge Bundy who was two years younger.

After attending Groton School and Yale University (where he was one of the first presidents of the Yale Political Union and a member of Skull and Bones), Bundy entered Harvard Law School. During World War II, he left to join the Army Signal Corps. During this time he worked at Bletchley Park in Britain as part of the top secret ULTRA intelligence operation to break Nazi codes.

After finishing law school in 1947, Bundy joined the Washington-based law firm of Covington and Burling. While there, he contributed to Alger Hiss's defense fund in the Hiss-Chambers Case. In 1953, Senator Joseph McCarthy cited his $400 contribution. Bundy explained that Donald Hiss, Alger's brother, worked with him at Covington & Burling. Allen Dulles and Vice President Richard M. Nixon defended him, and the matter dropped.[3] (Note: Bundy's father, Harvey Hollister Bundy, Sr., became chairman of the board at Carnegie 1953-1958, not long after Hiss served as president there 1946-1949.)

In the early 1950s, Bundy was recruited for the Central Intelligence Agency, serving as an analyst and as chief of staff for the Office of National Estimates. In 1960, Bundy took a leave of absence from the CIA to serve as staff director for Eisenhower's Commission on National Goals. During the Kennedy years, he was deputy to Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs Paul Nitze and worked also for the Secretary of the Navy. During much of the LBJ era, he was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

He continued to serve as an advisor on Vietnam following the election of President Richard M. Nixon, but resigned from government in 1969. Bundy moved to academia, teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1972 he moved to Princeton University, where he served as a professor for the rest of his life. He edited the influential journal, Foreign Affairs, of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1972 to 1984, also serving as a member of the Council. He declined an offer by the Council's chairman, David Rockefeller, to be the Council's president.

Bill Bundy was somewhat to the left of his brother politically, and was a spirited opponent of Joseph McCarthy. He was also considered one of the administration's more dovish members on Vietnam, and was an advisor to three presidents. In 1989 he acknowledged the complexity of the presidents' decisionmaking, saying, "In a nutshell, my present feeling is that it was a tragedy waiting to happen, but one made much worse by countless errors along the way, in many of which I had a part."[3]

Bundy was Honorary American Secretary General of the Bilderberg Meetings from 1975 to 1980.

Bundy's most noted work is A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency (1998). His papers are held by the Seeley G. Mudd Library at Princeton University.

Bill Bundy married Mary Acheson, the daughter of Truman's Secretary of State Dean Acheson. Bill and Mary had three children, Michael, Christopher, and Carol.

On October 6, 2000, William Putnam Bundy died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey at the age of 83 from heart trouble.


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William P. Bundy's Timeline

1917
September 24, 1917
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
2000
October 6, 2000
Age 83
Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States