Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GWorks Interviews: Nicholas de Belleville Katzenbach


History is in part imagery. And there are few images in the struggle for civil rights in the United States that rival the photograph of Governor George C. Wallace standing in the doorway of the Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on 11 June 1963 in an attempt to stop the enrollment of Vivian Malone and James Hood.

The man facing Governor Wallace is Nicholas de Belleville Katzenbach, at the time Deputy Attorney General of the United States.  Mr. Katzenbach served in the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.  In the Kennedy Administration, Mr. Katzenbach worked in the Department of Justice under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.  From 1961 t0 1962, Mr. Katzenbach was head of the Office of Legal Counsel.  From 1962 to 1965, he was Deputy Attorney General, succeeding Byron White, who had been appointed by President Kennedy to the Supreme Court.

On 11 February 1965, President Johnson appointed Mr. Katzenbach Attorney General of the United States.  Mr. Katzenbach volunteered to leave the position of Attorney General to become Undersecretary of State, a post he held from 1966 to 1969.  After serving in government, Mr. Katzenbach was General Counsel at IBM until 1980 and then Partner at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti.  He lives in Princeton.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Mr. Katzenbach graduated cum laude from Princeton University and Yale Law School, where he was Editor of the Law Review.  He served in the United States Army Air Force during World War II and was a Prisoner of War in Italian and German camps for more than two years.

Last year, W.W. Norton published Some of It Was Fun: Working With RFK and LBJ, Mr. Katzenbach’s memoir of his public service.  Mr. Katzenbach agreed to discuss his book and his views on a range of topics.